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Although in my academic career I took three or four (depending on how you count them) courses built around calculus, I have come to believe that we should downplay calculus in high school math in favor of statistics and other data-related topics, which are of more importance to everyday life.

An opinion piece in Education Week (read it here) expresses the position pretty well. Basically it argues that changes in technology and society in the past few decades have made stats/probability/data far more important.

Ironically, the rapid expansion of big data and statistics use in the broader society and economy comes at the same time American students seem to be struggling with those concepts. From 2007 to 2017, 4th and 8th students’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics fell significantly on problems related to data analysis, statistics, and probability—a decline that helped drive overall dips on the math test in 2017.

In part, experts say, that’s because statistics and data analysis have traditionally taken a back seat to calculus in high school math, and most students already have difficulty completing the classical path.

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