The college course I teach does not permit calculators. It hurts to see these young adults struggling with including basic simple arithmetic operations, fractions, decimals and percents.
These students are unprepared for college and when I go back to the high school, I understand why.
I recently finished a section on percents both in the high school and the college. In both places, I stressed using the words to solve the problem. Both groups struggled. The high school group got off easy. All they had to do was set up the problem, plug a few numbers into their calculators, and presto, their answer appeared. In the college, they began the process the same way but had the tedious process of actually doing the computations. Some were able, many were not. One woman struggled to get 8 when she divided 160 by 20.
Since I have begun teaching this class, I cringe every time I show a high school student how to use the fraction button on their calculator. I know they will be able to pass the regents this way but they haven't mastered the math. They aren't prepared to go on to college.
NYS is talking about doing away with regents exams. This would be great if we could then do what our students need us to do, TEACH. I doubt that would happen. Everyone is so worried about statistics and graduation rates, merit pay and keeping schools open to keep their jobs that education is on the back burner. I wonder if there will ever be a return to real education in this country.