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Topic: the use of calculators
Replies: 1   Last Post: Feb 6, 1997 1:08 AM

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Joe H Ward

Posts: 743
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: the use of calculators
Posted: Feb 6, 1997 1:08 AM
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Chris --

I think my inbox was too "exhausted" to receive messages. Did the "bounced"
message indicate that fact?
I will try to find some more time to comment on your comments. I think your
ideas are interesting conjectures (hypotheses?); however, trial approaches
toward solving the CALCULATOR-COMPUTER PROBLEMS might be reasonable just as
trial test items are administered for feedback and modification. I am a
strong believer in EVolutionary OPerations. As long as the system is not
destroyed, incremental exploration toward more optimum conditions seems
like a good strategy.

Thanks for the thoughtful ideas. Those ideas are what can lead to
improved solutions to interesting problems.

We'll see you in Minneapolis.


-- Joe
* Joe Ward 167 East Arrowhead Dr. *
* Health Careers High School San Antonio, TX 78228-2402 *
* Phone: 210-433-6575 *
* *

On Wed, 5 Feb 1997, Chris Olsen wrote:

> Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 15:16:06 -0600 (CST)
> From: Chris Olsen <>
> To: Joe H Ward <>
> Subject: Re: the use of calculators (fwd)
> Joe --
> Yes it got through, and I replied, but that reply was bounced.
> I'll try to send it as an attachment.
> -- Chris


From olsen@chaos.k12.ames.ia.usWed Feb 5
15:15:07 1997 Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1997 14:32:50 -0600 (CST)
From: Chris Olsen <>
Subject: Re: the use of calculators

Joe and All --

> 1. Could the AP-Statistics exam be given such that the "appropriate"
> calculating devices would be temporarily furnished at the site? For
> example, the application might say to the student, "you will be provided
> any one of following calculators (A,B,C,...) at the site". The students
> must specify, in advance, which calculator they wish to use. Then the
> various manufacturers should be willing to loan their "approved"
> calculators for the day of the test.

a) No manufacuturer would want that headache
b) When is a kid going to learn how use the calculator they choose?
If they have one, why "borrow" one?

The contents of each calculator
> could be "secured" before distribution to the students.

At what and whose cost? Ultimately, the kids'.

And the
> manufacturers should be particularly interested if the College Board and
> ETS provide information about the performance of students who use various
> calculators.

So would all the lawyers -- if there is any difference, would separate
grading scales be done for each calculator? If there is a difference,
that MUST decrease the reliability of the test in the college dept

> The suppliers should be glad to pay the cost of shipping.

What they should do, and what they can economically justify are two
different things. Where will they get these calculators? And what
will they do with the "used" calculators after that? Keep an inventory
for items that have half-lives of 6 months? There are hundreds of
thousands of these tests given each year! Will they re-package these
calculators? Who would buy them? It is a major effort to get the
test readers to the different sites at the same time. Will FedEx,
UPS, U.S. Post Office, etc. also donate their services????

> the main additional cost would be "loading" the various calculators with

And training people to do this, and paying them per diem, and verifying
the loading is correct -- and who will find these people at all the sites
across the country? And who will verify that the software disks have
not picked up any viruses, assuming they would re-use the disks?

> 2. Ditto for for future use of Digital Computers and Software. This may be
> tougher. While it might be unreasonable to ask computer hardware
> suppliers to provide desk-top computers, it might be feasible to install
> various software packages on desk-top computers at local schools or
> colleges where the exam is administered.

And who will unload all the other software, verify the software as loaded,
verify that it is UNloaded, and who will eat the cost of all the disks
needed to load the software? Who would train these folks? What if I
got into the test, did not like what I was seeing, and was knowledge-
able to trash the software? Can I now claim that I deserve a re-test?

And what if the location of the exam does not now have computers? Where
will they come from, who will install and take them away, and what will
be the market for those newly used computers? Who would be willing to
lease thousands of computers for one day?

> 3. As hand-held computer costs decrease, then it might be possible to
> supply computers for the use of students during the exam.
> The problem of "what students bring embedded in their OWN COMPUTING
> DEVICES" might be solved by asking the suppliers to loan their
> calculators, computers and software for the exam day.

If I were a stockholder in any company that did that, I would promptly
start a campaign to get new boards of directors or whatever. I'm not
investing my hard-earned $$$ in a company that throws inventory away
like that.

> And, repeating from above, the manufacturers should be particularly
> interested if the College Board and ETS provide information about the
> performance of students who use various calculators. They have a
> conveient marketing research tool!

But ETS/AP is not in the business of providing marketing research --
in the unlikely event the marketing research would have any value
more than 6 months out, I would still as a parent of a daughter who
will in all likelyhood take AP tests, demand every possible inch of
reliability and validity for the test's purpose: evaluate her
achievement with an eye toward offering advanced placement. I do not
see why I would want any other ox gored, nor do I see why I should pay
a great deal more money to support a testing effort with a newly
vitiated responsibility.

-- Chris

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