# Standardised tests for school calculators?

My first posting so, a bit of personal background: I'm a semi-retired consulting systems engineer with a granddaughter rapidly approaching school age. Educated at St. Dunstan's College in the late 1960s, when it had a good claim for having the best school maths department in the country. Later professional education (BCS Exams) at South Bank University (then Borough Polytechnic).

I'm dispirited by what I think are the poor standards of secondary-level maths education in this country and want to give something back to good maths teachers. A current hobby-horse is the dire quality of scientific calculators at school level. Some useful papers by Prof. Harold Thimbleby, (now Univ. Swansea) are attached. Some might find them surprising (even alarming).

I would like to suggest something that might help improve things, namely a set of standardised functional tests for calculators sold for use in secondary schools. The idea is a web-based collaboration of interested individuals to devise such a set of tests. The tests should be made freely available so that any interested teachers can try them on calculators that they propose to use or recommend to pupils. Also the results of tests on individual devices could be published to spur calculator developers to do better.

__ Added 27/10/2016: __To start the ball rolling I'm posting in this thread the results of various tests on calculators that I own. Feel free to contribute your own experiences.

Olwen Morgan

### Files

Subject(s) | Computing, Computer Networks, Creating Media, Design & Development, Mathematics |
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Age | 11-14, 14-16, 16-19, FE/HE |

Comments | 17 |

## Comments

### Stephen LyonThu, 2016-12-01 19:52

The New to teaching A level summer school was originally funded by the Clothworkers foundation. Casio then funded the summer school for the next three years. In this time 150 teachers, new to teaching A level mathematics, were able to access high quality CPD thanks to the generousity of Casio. The funding for the summer school has been taken on by Project Enthuse, enabling many more teachers access to this support. Details of next year's summer school can be found at www.stem.org.uk/my500

Casio now fund, amongst other things, the MEI/Casio Teacher Networks and the excellent MEI conference which I thoroughly enjoyed last year. I feel Casio should be congratulated for the support they are offering to teachers of mathematics.

In the interests of balance, Texas Instuments support the IMA scholars programme. The excellent Peter Ransom delivered a training session at the National STEM Learning Centre in the use of graphic calculators. The training is supported by Texas Instuments and will be repeated in the coming year.

Footnote: my Casio calculator performs the above calculation correctly and even rationalises the denominators.

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## Olwen Morgan

Texet FX1500 gets sums wrong!The Texet FX1500 is an older style of calculator that performs chained arithmetic operations. Thus if you enter 2+3= you get 5. Subsequent presses of the = key repeat the last operation.

For addition you get:

2+3=5

=8

=11, etc.

For subtraction you get:

2-3=-1

=-4

=-7, etc.

For division you get:

2/3=0.666666667

=0.222222222, etc ...

... but for multiplication you get:

2*3=6

=12

=24, etc.

So here repeated pressing of the = key is repeating the last operation but apparently with the wrong operand! Also a device that I think is an unbranded version of the Texet FX500 has the same behaviour.

Should we consider such calculators fit for use in schools?