State Florida: Calculators Used During School Tests Give Wrong Answers : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Feb 26, 2000 - 02:41 PM

State Calculators Used During School Tests Give Wrong Answers

The Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - State-issued calculators used by school children taking crucial achievement tests gave incorrect answers when math problems were entered quickly, teachers said. School officials in Palm Beach County reported problems with Casio HS-10 calculators during the recent Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests. Teachers in other counties got wrong answers when asked by The Palm Beach Post to test some equations.

"Three times three times three. Oh no, I got 81," said Carol Ann Whitehorse, a guidance counselor at Bay High School in Panama City. "This is really funny. This is funny in a bad way."

Casio officials in Trenton, N.J., said they will investigate, but state educators don't believe overall test scores will be affected.

About 17,500 middle and high school students used state-issued calculators during the FCAT. Students are not allowed to figure problems on their own calculators.

"We think most students know how to use a calculator, they know how to press the buttons, and they know how to check their work," said state Department of Education spokeswoman JoAnn Carrin.

Under state law, a school district must consider failing students who fail the FCAT and the test scores are used to determine school funding from the state.

Some Palm Beach County math teachers discovered the problem before the test and warned students to add, subtract, multiply and divide slowly.

Students estimated they used the calculators for about one-half of the FCAT questions, including a question like this one: A sphere has a radius of three inches, what is the volume of the sphere?

To find the answer, multiply three times three times three times pi, or 3.14, times 1.33.

The correct answer is 113 cubic inches. But if the Casio malfunctioned, the answer the student likely got was 339.

-- Carl Jenkins (, February 27, 2000


<rave mode on>

In 1977, our high school junior class took an arithmetic basic skills test that had just been instituted. I was stunned at the large number of students who failed this test. (For the record, I was not among them.) In my humble opinion, the replacement of slide rules with calculators was one of the worst calamities ever to hit our schools.

<rant mode off>

-- David L (, February 27, 2000.

Please tell me this is a joke. Students aren't really permitted to use calculators for basic arithmetic like this are they?

-- Malcolm Taylor (, February 27, 2000.


When I was in high school, many students were already using calculators for both assignments and exams. Some teachers strongly advised estimating the answer anyway (as a safeguard against calculator entry error), but I doubt many students went to the trouble. Can we infer from your answer that calculators aren't permitted by NZ schools.

-- David L (, February 27, 2000.

Does anyone else find the idea of a calculator in a test disturbing? And this was during ACHIEVEMENT TESTS?!?!?

"Three times three times three. Oh, no, I got 81," said Carol Ann Whitehorse of Bay High School in Panama City. "This is funny, in a bad way."

Yeah, you couldn't figure 3x3x3=27 in your head, and you're in HIGH SCHOOL! Even worse, the context implies that this woman WORKS there, not ATTENDS. THAT is sad in a sickening way.

Any wonder why other countries are kicking our colective asses in basic skills tests?

O d d O n e

-- OddOne (, February 27, 2000.

Odd One,

Nice to see you.

-- semper paratus (still_here_with@my.pals), February 27, 2000.

David, you asked "Can we infer from your answer that calculators aren't permitted by NZ schools."

Sadly, calculators are permitted in NZ schools, however they are normally discouraged for straight arithmetic, but permitted in solving mathmatical problems. I have on occassion tutored high school students in maths (as a favour to friends, not as a job), and it has been my policy not to allow them to use calculators untill they can show that they already understand exactly what they are doing. I must admit that in one respect that is a difficult task, as long division is no longer taught as a basic arithmatical excercise.

-- Malcolm Taylor (, February 28, 2000.

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