A Calculated Decision?

By Bryan Toporek — April 21, 2010 1 min read
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Ms. Bluebird’s science classes recently began their “Very Big Deal Government Mandated Tests” (her words, not ours). Thanks to a few new science standards that involve math, Ms. Bluebird realized that her students can’t compute without a calculator.

They can punch in numbers and solve math problems until the cows come home, but ask them to do math with a pencil and paper (and their brain) and they go into shut down mode. Heck, they're not even sure how to set up a math problem without a calculator. They would read a question, say, Power = work/time, and they'd write it out and then MULTIPLY IT. Not just a handful of kids, but huge numbers of kids.

Problem is: The VBDGMTs only allow calculators for the math sections of the test—calculators are banned for the science section. Cue educator rage.

My kids are going to be, in a way, penalized because they don't have the ability to do math without a calculator. And at the same time, we stick a calculator in their hands and encourage them to use it. It makes no sense to me that they can use one for the math part of the test, but not the science part which also has math.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.