If you ever wondered why the US students routinely get the stuffing knocked out of them on international assessments, or why there are now more foreign born engineering candidates at US Colleges and Universities than US candidates, look no further than the calculator.

In response to studies showing an increasing number of Brits are so “bad with numbers they cannot pay household bills or understand price labels”, Education Ministers in London have prohibited schools from allowing students to use calculators in the first 5 years of education. Calculators will also be prohibited on state exams for 11 year old’s.

Of course in the US, and Virginia in particular, calculators are an integral part of math education and are required beginning in Kindergarten. I wonder how long it it will be before we fall below England on international assessments?

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December 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

England has a long history of messing it up just like the US. They just seem to be the first to wake up…

The state exams for 16 and 18 year olds have been dumbed down so as to be worthless. Exactly what would happen here is NCLB hadn’t been challenged; it’s obviously still happening to a certain extent.

December 4, 2011 at 6:55 pm

NCLB is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a convenient target for complaints, but isn’t the primary cause of the dumbing down of education in the US – particularly math education. For that you need only look as far as the NCTM and their 1989 standards, which called for arithmetic to be abandoned in favor of calculators (hence the emphasis on estimation, so that you can more accurately eliminate choices on a multiple choice test without ever solving the problem, desire for deep conceptual understanding of mathematical operations in lieu of computational fluency, and idiotically stupid probability and statistics standards for elementary students because you have to fill all that instructional time with something and having our kids master something they’ll never use much less see again in their lives, like stem and leaf plots, is a great way to waste time while claiming you’re teaching something of value).

December 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

And NCLB hasn’t gone away, it’s just been replaced with National / Federal Academic standards and assessments instead of state standards and assessments.

February 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

None of my kids have ever been encouraged to use a calculator, that I know of. My concern is just the lack of math some years. I worry that if math is not on the SOL for a particular grade level, not much math will be taught that year.

February 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

If your kids are in PWCS, and have been in elementary school at any time in the past 6 years, they’ve used calculators in math class. Familiarity with calculators is required in Virginia per the SOLs.

There are math standards for every grade from K through 8th grade (the VA SOLs which we have to meet). After 8th grade the standards are subject specific, so for High School the standards aren’t 9th or 10th grade standards, but standards for Algebra I or Geometry or Algebra II. High School students are required to take 4 years of math in PWCS and the only way a student can “get out” of their math requirement is if their parents sign a release.

February 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Nicely posted!

Danial from TI 83 Plus