In the last 30 years more and more countries introduced graphing calculators and then CAS systems to their high-school students. But are there already any examples of a trend in the opposite direction? That is, examples where a state or country decided to row back and deemphasize or discontinue the use of CAS systems or graphical calculators in teaching mathematics (at the secondary level). If so, what were the (official) reasons for this decision?

Please note that I don't want to discuss advantages or disadvantages of CAS systems in high school math, but just the very specific question above.

An example of this phenomenon I am aware of is in a state of Germany, more specifically Baden Württemberg: from 2004 on at every Gymnasium [a type of high-school] graphical calculators were allowed (e.g. TI-83/84) in the final examination (Abitur) in one part of the exam. Yet, it has been decided that from the Abitur 2019 on only a simple scientific calculator will be allowed. Since this tool will not be allowed in the Abitur it changes the style of teaching. CAS tools or software like geogebra will be used from time to time on a PC/tablet/smartphone but most of the time, calculations will be done manually as well as in tests.

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    $\begingroup$ Dan Kennedy's 16 March 2001 talk AP Calculus and Technology discusses the fact that the use of calculators was allowed on the 1983 and 1984 AP-Calculus tests, but after 1984 their use on the tests was not allowed until 1993. $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2015 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the question. What does "abolish" mean here? Are you talking about school exams? All use during school? Homework? Elementary school? College? Public schools? Private schools? $\endgroup$
    – user507
    Oct 26, 2015 at 21:15
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    $\begingroup$ @BenCrowell or by law for consumers? I admit i was confused by the wording as well and immediately thought of a government making a ban against the use of CAS in any context which surely is not what the question is asking.... $\endgroup$
    – celeriko
    Oct 26, 2015 at 22:13
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    $\begingroup$ @BenCrowell I am not sure that "to abolish" it the correct word here (I am not a native speaker). You may reformulate it that it is not longer allowed in final examinations or the importance of the calculator in the final examination is reduced drastically....The original intention was to ask about high schools, but if you know examples from colleges it might be interesting as well. $\endgroup$
    – Julia
    Oct 27, 2015 at 11:37
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    $\begingroup$ I tried to clarify the question as I understood it. I hope this matches you intent. $\endgroup$
    – quid
    Oct 27, 2015 at 12:51

2 Answers 2


New Zealand used to have a CAS version of calculus exams.

old exam example: http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2010/90834-exm-2010.pdf

It was actually much harder than the non-CAS version. I believe is was discontinued because it was much harder than the standard exam - how many kids want a harder exam? The regular exam assumes that students have access to a graphing calculator.


I forgot to mention that there has also been recently created a pre-calculus algebra exam in which they have banned all calculators entirely! This is amazingly popular with schools.

first exam sample: http://www.nzqa.govt.nz/nqfdocs/ncea-resource/exams/2011/91027-cat-A-2011.pdf

I suspect it is simply coincidence that the calculator-fee exam was introduced the same year that the CAS exam with withdrawn.


A small example:

Calculators were allowed on the 1983 in USA (I took it) AP Calculus tests. There had been a long semi-political push to "get technology in". However, students using calculators performed worse than those that did not. Ha! So they pulled it out of the AP Calc. (And delayed putting it into SATs, GREs, etc., which was the real end game of the tech pushers.)

The tech-pushing NCTM licked its wounds for a decade, but eventually the Empire Struck Back with TI-time-required AP calculus problems in the mid 90s.


For me, the issue has always been about a fetishization of "technology" (gotta get them computers in the classroom so our kids can compete with the Japanese...but then they sit and get dust...and the kids don't learn the basics either).

By the late 70s, early 80s, scientific calculators (Sharp or Casio or those crazy Polish HPs) were ubiquitous in high school physics and (especially) chemistry classes. Cheap, easy to use, and allowed without any objection by teachers, to deal with the inconvenient final calculations of solved problems in stoichiometry, gas laws, equilibrium, etc.

They really weren't (and still aren't) needed to deal with practice problems in calculus. My point is that it shouldn't be about loving or hating the "tech", but about the right tool for the right job. The reality of tech. Not the silly/stupid political will to dump money and appear to be doing something. Not forcing things like the "squint at screen" TI-required questions.

In general, I don't find strong-at-algebra-manipulation students to have a hard time when moving into doing Excel. Or when using a calculator in chem class. It's kind of easy compared to partial fractions or epsilon delta games. So there's not really some crucial need for strong students to practice key-pushing. If anything, it can be a crutch for weaker students. I'm always amused by the yearly questions on College Confidential by students who are aghast that their college math class won't allow calculators (and the invariable, true, answer is "you don't need them").

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    $\begingroup$ "the issue has always been about a fetishization of "technology" " - no, it has been about selling $100 calculators. $\endgroup$
    – Rusty Core
    Dec 30, 2021 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Tommi you know. You know the name. Say it. Say it's name! youtube.com/watch?v=uEk8SJXaSn8 ;-) $\endgroup$
    – guest
    Jan 15 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ I added USA there. Please edit if I guessed wrong, or to correct the grammar. $\endgroup$
    – Tommi
    Jan 16 at 6:37

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