Graphing Calculators for 8th Graders

Graphing Calculators for 8th Graders

Amarillo, TX- Texas 8th graders will have an extra tool when taking the STAAR assessment next spring.

Starting next fall the Texas Education Agency Commissioner-- Michael Williams has instructed all Texas Public Schools to have graphing calculators available for STAAR testing.

Pencils and paper son won't be enough for some middle schoolers according to the State Board of Education.

More algebra curriculum is expected to be added to the STAAR assessment test next spring-- requiring all 8th graders to have a graphing calculator.

"The algebra curriculum has come down to the 8th grade and it's a realization from the commissioner that we want to make sure the kids conceptionaly understand the curriculum and not get dinged on a high states testing for a calculation error." says Dr. Paul Uttley, Superintendent of Vega ISD.

The cost of each graphing calculator is over one hundred dollars and although the state is requiring school districts to provide them for their students, the state will not give out extra funding for the devices. But that doesn't discourage Superintendent of Vega's ISD.

"Do the kids grasp it, that's what they are looking for and I think that giving the kids calculators is a good sign." says Dr. Uttley.

To provide more flexibility to the school districts-- the alternative is using iPads and purchasing the graphing calculator app.

"One of the things we want to consider as well is that students have whatever it is they are going to use on the test we want them to be completely comfortable with that would be what they use in their classroom on a daily basis as well. So iPads using that graphing calculator app is an option as well as the calculator." says Gay Lynn Bonjour, Amarillo ISD Math Curriculum Specialist.

This upcoming school year will be a test and the commissioner plans to analyze the results and will be looking into security aspects involved.

Most area school districts told me they will manage their budget to have the graphing calculators available and if not some districts like Bushland plan to borrow from the high school.