P. O. BOX 2120
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.