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johnpowell's avatar

9th grade, quadratic equations, and graphing calculators.. Is this a real thing?

Asked by johnpowell (17848points) September 22nd, 2015

I woke up to a text this morning about my sisters twins needing TI-84s for math class. It appears to be a requirement for the class. This seems absurd. They are not good at math. I help them with their homework. Pencil and graph paper would be faster.

I can kinda get wanting to teach them how to use the tools that will be handy in higher level math classes.

But this is a public school that is basically saying you need to spend 180 dollars on calculators to pass a pretty basic math class. As far as I know everyone is required to get one of these on their dime.

This would have never been a thing when I was in high school. Is buying supplies the schools consider required something parents have to deal with now? Or do the twins just go to a shitty school?

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20 Answers

jerv's avatar

When I was in school, such calculators were banned, at least on tests. The point of the class was to learn to do it yourself to demonstrate understanding of the material.

Oddly, most places that “require” TI calculators prohibit HP or Casio equivalents. Make of that what you will.

msh's avatar

My BFF is a High School Math Teacher. Her students use the calculators like that, but ‘loaners’ are available to sign out. Not all schools make it mandatory, and have class sets. It just depends on district.
Some tests allow calcs, others do not. If you folks have state testing, find out from the state if calcs are allowed. Then look up on SAT if they allow- SAT testing just may become standard for graduating seniors in HS requirements to get a diploma. Keep finger on pulse of that action as kids age. Not kidding.
Get this though: BFF’s son is taking 8th grade math. He had questions about something he needed help with. My friend showed him how to solve the problems. ( she makes it really easy to learn ) He flunked the quiz the next day. The reason: he did not calculate it the ’ new’ way the class was shown. The new way is longer and not sequenced. He used the form that is not only easier to understand, but used in college-level math classes!!!! Got an F!!!! So check kid’s given class examples if helping. Yow!
It’s crazy.
Good luck!
If calcs allowed on testing that effects future- look at higher grade classes usage- is it the same calc? Get them used to type before major grade hoo-ha in later grade levels.Perhaps borrow until later, if ‘loaners’ available. :)

jca's avatar

Not sure about the calculators, but my daughter is in elementary school and every year there’s a list with “two boxes of this and two boxes of that, markers, dry erase markers, 36 pencils, anti bacterial handled scissors plus tissues plus wipes” to the tune of about 60 bucks. High school taxes in our area (about 6 k a year) and the teachers and administrators make huge salaries (kindergarten teacher made about 130k, for example – this is “horse country”) but the school budget doesn’t include tissues or Wet Ones for the classroom. Very different from when I was a kid and my mom sent some pencils, a ruler, scissors and glue to school.

I asked a q on Fluther about a year ago, because I was (and still am) curious about how it works for the parents who can’t afford it. Not many in my area can’t afford it, but there are probably a few. Luckily I can afford it, but I resent it.

janbb's avatar

My kids had to get a previous version of them for high school math some years ago.

DoNotKnow's avatar

My daughter just started 8th grade, and the math teacher announced that this calculator is optional. I’m not sure if this will be mandatory next year.

However, there is no shortage of free TI-84 apps for Android, and I’m assuming they are available for iOS as well.

But as far as parents having to pay for expensive supplies that are mandatory – yes, this happens. This year, everyone was required to have a notebook (Chromebook, PC, or Mac). Of course, my daughter already has a Chromebook. But if she didn’t, we’d have to purchase one at around $180—$220. The alternative the school offers for this is to request a loaner. I’m not sure this would be available for the calculator thing. But with the ubiquity of phones by middle school, I would imagine purchasing an actual TI-84 would be redundant.

ragingloli's avatar

We were required to buy graphing calculators, too, back in my day.
Casio though.
And they were allowed in tests.
In the final exam, too.
We even had a custom made program suite for trigonometry and such.
In return, they packed the final exams so full of stuff that it would have been impossible to do them without the calculators, time-wise.

janbb's avatar

(My son was programming them for all his friends.)

filmfann's avatar

It’s a real thing, and they need the tools.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I had to get one when I started high school, too. And while other brands weren’t outright banned, they were strongly discouraged (to the point that teachers would warn us ominously that they wouldn’t be able to help us if we bought a different kind). I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that other brands are now banned, though, just as @jerv mentioned. My old high school would totally sell out for an endorsement deal.

The thing is, we barely used them. Or at least, we didn’t really need to use them. Our exams weren’t packed like @ragingloli‘s were, and most kids just used them to program games or figure out how to spell insults and racial slurs using graphs. I guess that taught them something. Then again, most people just copied their code from the one guy who knew what he was doing.

cazzie's avatar

Isn’t there an app for that by now? If not there should be.

CWOTUS's avatar

Ah, this takes me back. I’m of an age when simple four-function calculators were just beginning to become available, but were nowhere near “common”. In fact, I graduated high school without even a notion that they even existed (though I had used desktop electronic – not digital – calculators by then). The Fall after my high school graduation I entered a well-known and widely respected technical university with “slide rule” as one of the required pieces of equipment still needed for math and science classes. (And we were expected to know how to use it, too.)

That Fall, the school’s administration made the announcement that calculators would be “permitted” in classes, but that slide rules would still be the norm for tests, since not all students had calculators, and all had been required to have slide rules.

The following year the equipment rule was modified, and we were permitted to have either or both. I don’t think that I’ve seen a slide rule used “in the wild” since then, though I still have a few, and know how to use them.

PS: My incoming freshman class was also the first, I think, not to be require to wear neckties to class… and “beanie” caps for freshmen. Or so I’ve heard.

I’m glad to have understood the principles of arithmetic well enough to be able to solve equations in my head or graphing them, by knowing the principles.

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire As a CNC Machinist, I have to be familiar with a range of different systems, and there is about as much difference between Siemenns and FANUC controls as there is between TI and HP calculators. The difference between CNC machinists and teachers is that CNC Machinists lose their jobs if they lack the diversity of knowledge required to handle multiple types of machines.

@janbb If your son’s friends can’t program their own calculators, they really need to go back to pencil and paper. It’s bad enough that they are eliminating the need to understand the source material by allowing their calculator to do all the thinking, but when you can’t even figure out how to use the tools to avoid having to learn, you’re a special type of uneducated. I may have forgotten how to do calculus, but at least I remember how to get my HP48G to do it.

@msh I faced the same issues in most of my math classes, especially in the Navy schools where they care even more about following procedure than about getting results.

@DoNotKnow The TI emulators I’ve seen for Android are missing ROMs, making them tricky to set up and of questionable legality unless you actually buy a TI calculator to allow you to get a copy of the ROM that way. Droid48 just works right out of the gate, but it’s not a TI.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess I would have just died if I had been required to spend $180 on something for school. No way could I have afforded that.

msh's avatar

msh’s avatar
This situational question and answers made me recall a moment from a fav film: Apollo 13. Astronaut Jim Lovell had to do calculations to make adjustments to the flight path of the damaged LEM/capsule. Lovell figured it on paper, NASA folks used their slide rules. He was faster. (That paper Lovell used was just sold at auction for $$$$$!)
Every time I think of this scenario, usually when my technology fails, I wonder just how screwed we all will be when all chargers for tech can’t be used any more, thus rendering a useless blank screen. Reliance upon a supplied ’base’ added onto a skill lacking if not used- how many will not have those skills it will take to put it down on paper instead of just pushing a key? Kinda scary.
msh (717 points )

Dutchess_III's avatar

I remember that @msh. Calculators and transistor radios hadn’t even been invented at that time. We have more computer power in our cars today than any of the Apollo rockets did.

Why are you providing us with information like “msh’s avatar” and “msh (717 points )?

msh's avatar

I don’t know!
It just appeared!
It startled me too!
Egads!
I’ve angered Poseiden speaking about the realm of Zeus!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It’s very real. Last year, when my niece was in 5th grade, there was a long list of supplies that had to be bought – which wasn’t unusual when I was a kid. However, the difference that really baffled my sister and I was that the kids didn’t get to keep any of the supplies except the scissors and a pencil case. Not the coloring markers, erasers, writing pencils, drawing pencils, Sharpies, ruler, etc., etc., etc.

jca's avatar

Yes, @DrasticDreamer. In my daughter’s school, they seem to pool most things. The kids need a marker, there’s tin cans full of markers at every station. The kids need a pencil, there’s pencils all around. I think they keep their pencil boxes, that’s it. End of the year, they have nothing. The teacher ends up with about 10 leftover boxes of tissues at the end of the year. What happens to them, I don’t know. If we spend 50 bucks retail for the supplies, that means the school could get them for about 25 bucks. Why don’t they just add 25 bucks per child into the budget or increase taxes for everybody around 15 bucks, that would cover the 25 dollar increase per school aged child.

LostInParadise's avatar

I question the use of a calculator, particularly a specific brand, but I do believe that at some point students should learn to program. Computers are just too an important a factor in our lives not to know something about them. There are a number of popular freeware programming languages (I lean toward Python) that could be chosen and which run on all major operating systems. Learning to plot equations could be part of learning to program. Students are likely to already have a laptop and the school could have some available for the few who do not own one. In addition, it may be worthwhile for the school to have its own computers with terminals for connecting to them.

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