Project leaders are seeking to expand these gains to other areas of the curriculum and to broaden the community of instructors who are fully accepting of the reforms. Common concerns expressed by faculty resistant to the overhaul include suspicion that pass rate gains might reflect grade inflation or weakened standards, and that altering the traditional content of Calculus I might leave students unprepared for Calculus II. External stakeholders also have a vested interest in ensuring students receive a solid preparation in Calculus I. In this paper we develop a response to ensure solid evidence of Calculus II readiness that we hope will be useful to change agents and campus leaders in many other settings.

We address concerns about Calculus II readiness by conducting a natural experiment, tracking two cohorts of students through Calculus I and into Calculus II. The “treatment” cohort consists of students who reach Calculus II after passing the reformed Calculus I. The “control” cohort consists of students who reach Calculus II after passing non-reformed Calculus I at Boise State University. The experiment has no designed randomizing, but enrollment data shows that both cohorts spread out across all sections of Calculus II with apparent randomness. Our research question is: “Does the treatment cohort perform any worse than the control cohort in Calculus II?” Data on pass rates and grades in Calculus II will show that the answer is “No.”

]]>