Algebra and calculators

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  • Heather

    Hi there, I have a question about using calculators with upper maths. I’ve never allowed my children to use calculators until my oldest had an Algebra I class this year. I was a little surprised that her teacher allowed such excessive use of it, but I trusted her judgement.  My daughter did very well in that class with a high A average, but her end of the year test showed low math skills, approximately two years lower. I’ve never put much stock in those tests, but since I paid quite a bit of money for the Algebra class this year and was planning to continue using this teacher next year, I was quite alarmed. So, I have her doing an Algebra 1 assessment from Seton without her calculator and she is really struggling.

    I’m sorry this is so long, I guess I am just asking, for those of you with high schoolers, how extensively should the calculator be used?


    Hi Heather! I think extensive use of a calculator is a bad idea.

    I start letting my kids use a calculator in pre algebra but only once in a while and for tedious problems. Most curricula try to deal with smaller numbers or easier to manage numbers at this point so that the student shouldn’t need a calculator very often. My daughter is almost finished with Algebra 1 and she might use a calculator a couple of times a month.

    She used a calculator today for an extremely long division problem that was part of a larger problem. That’s the first she’s used it in I don’t know how long.

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