> Students who take another route in high school can still learn calculus in college, rather than retaking it, as many do, after a high school calculus experience they didn’t appreciate. In fact, in college, two-thirds of all high school calculus students retake calculus or take a more foundational class, suggesting that a rush to calculus isn’t beneficial for most students.

The problem I have with people wanting to get away from calculus as the end class for high school mathematics is that this is typically the argument. This argument, imo, boils down to "calculus is too hard." Switching from calculus to statistics or whatever other alternative sweeps the real problem under the rug, namely that students are ill prepared. Calculus requires you to synthesize a lot of the information from algebra and trigonometry that you've already learned and really think about the steps you're taking.

For instance, I have a function I want to maximize over an interval. Okay, to do that, the theorem tells me I want to find critical points by finding the derivative and seeing where it's zero or undefined. Okay now that I've done that, I have this sub-problem of how to solve f'(x)=0 and find where f'(x) doesn't exist, so I need to do that. Next, I know where f'(x) is zero/undefined, so I need to use that to figure out where it's positive and negative so I can classify my critical points. All of that requires a lot of thought and mastery of the concepts it entails. Statistics at a high school level gets around having to work with the prerequisites calculus demands. Rarely do you have to find the zeros of a function, let alone use that as a step to solving a larger problem.

I think before you offer a "fix" for the ending class, you should look at fixing the underlying issue.