Tell them that students should be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide without calculators BEFORE they’re forced into Algebra or higher level courses. Heck, tell them to order the VA DOE to stop pushing calculators in our elementary school children. Tell your Delegates that you support HB 469. Tell your school board members not to oppose it.
Delegate Dave Albo proposed HB 469 last year. The bill would prohibit students from using calculators on Algebra readiness and end of course exams. Albo was quoted in the Washington Examiner as stating, “It’s making sure teachers are teaching basic math skills without calculators, like we used to do in the ’70s before we had calculators.” He said he was inspired to propose the bill when he was told by a Fairfax County teacher that many of his Algebra I students were unable to multiply and divide fractions, a skill which is necessary for Algebra and higher level courses.
The Va Dept of Ed, through the VA SOLs, has advocated that students be taught to use calculators starting in kindergarten for years . The VA Dept of Ed allows students to use calculators on Math SOL exams starting in 5th grade.
Long time followers of this page know our origins spring from the math wars here in Prince William County, wars which are still raging despite PWCS adopting a new K – 8 math instructional approach. So it won’t surprise you to know that we fully support this bill. Children should not be using calculators until they start high school level math courses, if at all. Giving a 5 or a 10 year old a calculator instead of teaching them to add, subtract, multiply, or divide, in our opinion, is unacceptable.
If you think it’s a waste of time to teach arithmetic to children since we have calculators, here are a couple of opinions from people who have to teach our K – 12 calculator dependent children:
- A study by Drs W. Stephen Wilson and Daniel Q. Naiman of Johns Hopkins University noting the effects of calculator use in K -12 math courses and grades in college level courses. ABSTRACT “We find that students in the big mathematics service courses at JHU who were encouraged to use calculators in K – 12 have somewhat lower grades than those who weren’t.”
- How many Mathematicians agreed with this statement? Statement: In order to succeed at freshmen mathematics at my college/university, it is important to have knowledge of and facility with basic arithmetic algorithms, e.g. multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and algebra, (without having to rely on a calculator). How does 100% of the 93 mathematicians surveyed sound?
So write your Senator and Delegate a tell them to support this bill. E-Mail addresses for the representatives from PWC are below (I think I got them all, but may have missed some – if so, I apologize). If you don’t know who your representatives are, just send your letter to all of them. I’m sure they’d like to hear from you!
Richard Black – firstname.lastname@example.org
Charles Colgan – email@example.com
Toddy Puller – firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Stuart – email@example.com
George Barker – firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Lingamfelter – DelSLingamfelter@house.virginia.gov
Richard Anderson – DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov
Luke Torian – DelLTorian@house.virginia.gov
Bob Marshall – DelBMarshall@house.virginia.gov
Jackson Miller – DelJMiller@house.virginia.gov
Dave Ramadan – DelDRamadan@house.virginia.gov
Tim Hugo – DelTHugo@house.virginia.gov
Mark Dudenhefer – DelMDudenhefer@House.virginia.gov
The text of HB 469 is below.
HOUSE BILL NO. 469 Offered January 11, 2012 Prefiled January 10, 2012 A BILL to require the Board of Education to develop an algebra readiness assessment and require that students take such assessment prior to enrolling in non-remedial algebra.
———- Patrons– Albo, Comstock and O’Bannon———-
Referred to Committee on Education———-
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:
1. § 1. The Board of Education shall, by December 30, 2012, develop or approve a model assessment of algebra readiness for students to take prior to enrolling in a non-remedial algebra course. Such assessment shall require students to demonstrate basic arithmetic skills without a calculator or other aid. Basic arithmetic skills shall include the four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students shall be able to demonstrate facility with the four basic operations with whole numbers, decimals, fractions, integers, and percentages.
§ 2. The Board of Education shall promulgate regulations requiring that, beginning with the 2014-2015 academic year, every student take an algebra readiness assessment prior to enrolling in a non-remedial algebra course. School boards may utilize the model assessment developed by the Board of Education or another assessment meeting substantially similar standards. School boards shall determine annually the passing score required on the test to enroll a student in non-remedial algebra.