```Subject: Computers vs. Calculators in Intro Stat
Follow-Up re AP Statistics

To: ApStat-L Statistics Education Discussion List

From: Donald B. Macnaughton <donmac@matstat.com>

Date: Wednesday June 17, 1998
```

```I would like to thank the teachers who commented on my earlier
post (1998).  Their comments have stimulated several corrections
and clarifications to the table comparing computers and calcula-
tors in my paper.  I'll place the latest version of the paper on-
line within the next few weeks.  (I'll announce the availability
of the paper in this list.)

In considering the issue of computers versus calculators in AP
Statistics courses, it is helpful to consider the following quo-
tations from the latest AP Statistics "Course Description"
(College Board 1998):

Although the distinction between graphing calculators and
computers is becoming blurred as technology advances, at
present the fundamental tool of data analysis is the com-
puter.  The computer does more than eliminate the drudg-
ery of hand computation and graphing -- it is an essen-
tial tool for structured inquiry [p. 9].

Because the computer is central to what statisticians do,
it is considered essential for teaching the AP statistics
course [p. 9].

A graphing calculator is a useful computational aid, par-
ticularly in analyzing small data sets, but should not be
considered equivalent to a computer in the teaching of
statistics [p. 10].

... schools should make every effort to provide students
teaching and learning of statistics [p. 10].

Despite the preceding statements, the College Board says:

Each student will be expected to bring a graphing calcu-
lator with statistical capabilities to the [AP Statis-
tics] examination and to be familiar with its use [p.
10].

The subtitle of the "Course Description" booklet quoted above is
"May 1999, May 2000".  Thus the description is laying out re-
quirements for the next two years.  Thus discussion of computers
versus calculators is somewhat irrelevant for AP Statistics since
the last quotation above implies that the College Board *re-
quires* AP Statistics students to use calculators.  I see two
possible reasons why the College Board requires calculators de-
spite its strong endorsement of computers:

One reason for requiring calculators may be that the AP Statis-
tics committee knows that a significant proportion of schools and
students cannot afford computers, but can afford calculators.  In
this case, requiring calculators is mandated by the College
Board's goal of promoting

teaching and learning and sufficient financial resources
so that every student has the opportunity to succeed in
college and work [1998, p. 42].

A second reason for requiring calculators may be a concession to
the fact that many AP Statistics teachers and students are famil-
iar with calculators, due to their work with calculators in other
courses.

I have deep respect for the College Board's commitment to equity,
and I recognize the importance of taking account of the prior ex-
perience that teachers and students have with calculators.  Nev-
ertheless, like the College Board, I look forward to the day when
all students and teachers can have the substantial benefits of

-------------------------------------------------------
Donald B. Macnaughton   MatStat Research Consulting Inc
-------------------------------------------------------

REFERENCES

College Board. 1998. _Advanced Placement Course Description: Sta-
tistics:  May 1999, May 2000._ Available under the title of
"AP Statistics (PDF - 314K)" at
http://www.collegeboard.org/ap/statistics/html/pdf1.html

Macnaughton, D. D. 1998. "Computers vs. Calculators in Intro
Stat."  Posted to ApStat-L and sci.stat.edu on June 10, 1998.
Available at http://www.matstat.com/teach/

```