Calculus BC is Coming to an End


Cyrus Bokaie, Contributor

Calculus BC may look like any advanced math course offered at San Rafael High School, but certain things separate it from a traditional advanced math course. The course is solely dependent on the teacher of the class, Mr. Snaith, who chooses to offer the course. 

It is no longer possible to get into the course through the standard advanced math route. “The program that let kids take Algebra One in seventh grade is now done with,” said David Snaith, who teaches Calculus BC. Since this practice ended, the number of students per year that can take this course have been dwindling, with Snaith reportedly having 12 students in 2020 and only one last year.

Luca Caviness, the only student enrolled last year, was able to voice his journey through the Calculus BC course. After finishing Calculus AB sophomore year of high school, Luca took Calculus BC at the extremely early grade of junior year. Not long after, Luca was struggling for a multitude of reasons, one of which being the lack of “peer to peer help.” To combat this, Luca looked for help outside of school, and after much searching, he found a tutor charging $100 dollars an hour that was willing to teach. When this proved to be too expensive, he had to drop the course. 

While Luca’s experience with Calculus BC may seem as though the course is impossible, many things stand out about his experience with the course. “It’s not something that I would ever do with a single student,” said Snaith. “The more that we have, the better off they are because students can work together.”  He also did not take Snaith’s Calculus AB class, which is vital to learning the basics of Calculus and succeeding in Calculus BC.

Andreas Ritter, a senior at San Rafael High School, is someone who was set up for success, having taken Calculus AB with Snaith, and also having one other peer in the course that he can get help from. He states “the content itself is at a high level and challenging, but generally only high level math students have the opportunity to take it, so relative to the students capabilities I would say it’s very manageable.”

While the downsides of taking Calculus BC may at times seem to outweigh any possible pros, think again. Not many students take Calculus BC, so it “stands out to colleges, and also clears a lot of your math requirements if not all of them depending on what you study in college,” said Ritter. “There is more flexibility and independence, so you can plan your work/study schedule.” 

The overarching reason Calculus BC is a hard course is not necessarily the content that is being taught, but rather the rarity of the course. Students feel that the main thing missing with the course is that there simply aren’t enough people to do it with you.  You are given a pencil, paper, and a textbook, and told to learn all the content. Not many people can do that with such limited resources. 

And not many people will have to for much longer. Snaith states that he has “no students on track to take the class next year.” While this may seem like a sad era coming to an end, Snaith has mixed feelings about the path to take Calculus BC in high school, considering it could put more stress and anxiety on students to take advanced math courses they aren’t prepared to learn.