SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 97
May 7, 1999 |

TO: | Division Superintendents |

FROM: | Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction |

SUBJECT: | Use of Calculators on Standards of Learning Tests |

The purpose of this memo is to provide an updated source of information on the use of calculators on the Standards of Learning tests. Use of Four-Function Calculators on SOL Tests Four-function calculators (defined as a calculator having only addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division functions) and calculators having percent, square root, and +/- functions may be used by students on the following SOL tests: Grade 5 mathematics (calculator section only) Grade 8 Mathematics Grade 8 Science End-of-Course Earth Science End-of-Course Biology End-of-Course Chemistry Calculators having any additional functions (e.g., sine, cosine, fraction to decimal, decimal to fraction), calculators having algebraic operating systems (AOS), and graphing calculators may not be used by students taking any of the tests listed above. Use of Graphing Calculators on the SOL End-of-Course Mathematics Tests As you know, during the spring 1998 administration only, schools were allowed to use either a four-function or graphing calculator on the SOL mathematics end-of-course tests. In all subsequent administrations, students shall be provided a graphing calculator on the SOL end-of-course mathematics tests. Students may no longer use four-function calculators on the SOL mathematics end-of-course tests. Acceptable graphing calculators include, but are not limited to: CASIO 9850G, CASIO 9850G Plus, TI-82, or TI-83. Two of these models (CASIO 9850G Plus and TI-83) have been provided to school divisions for use in meeting the requirements of the Standards of Learning. Since many school divisions have been using the earlier models (CASIO 9850G and TI-82) in instruction prior to receiving the state's shipment, they also may be used on the tests. Please be aware that not all graphing calculators may be used by students on the SOL end-of-course mathematics tests. Some graphing calculators have functions exceeding the specifications of those listed in the paragraph above. Their use would provide students with an unfair advantage over students using an approved calculator. Items on the high school Standards of Learning tests are designed to be calculator-neutral or calculator-inactive. Calculator neutral items are those that can be solved correctly without a graphing calculator, but the use of one may be helpful. Calculator-inactive items are those in which there is no advantage to using a calculator. Scientific Calculators Scientific calculators may not be used on any SOL test. The rationale for this policy is that while scientific calculators are available in many schools, they are not available to all students in all schools. Test questions have been written so there would be no advantage to using a scientific calculator. If you have a question, please call the Division of Assessment and Reporting at (804) 225-2102. PDS/CMH/atb