How should calculators change how we test?

Last week, 1,000 math teachers told me about their classroom calculator policy. Few disallowed them entirely, though many disallowed them on tests. One reason for disallowing them on tests kept bubbling up: calculators make some questions too easy to answer. “So change the test!” responded other commenters. This exchange was too provocative not to beam back onto Twitter, where I posed the question:

“Calculators can perform rote calculations therefore rote calculations have no place on tests.” Yay or nay?

I’ve summarized some of the best responses – both yay and nay – below.

Yay

Nay

I see your metaphor and raise you one.

It depends.

Have your calculator and eat it too.

The responses were overwhelmingly “nay”: the existence of calculators doesn’t mean we should stop assessing calculations. And I suspect the crowd that follows me on Twitter overrepresents people with progressive views on technology and education. Traditionalists will be even more likely to disallow calculators than change the tests. Those results have interesting implications for advocates of technology in the classroom.

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