Ed Management Services

Questions and Answers Concerning Calculators and K-12 Education


Charging Students

Can school districts require students to provide calculators needed for instruction and assessment?

School districts can require students to provide their own student “supplies”.  Supplies are defined as something which is consumed in use, loses its appearance and shape in use, is expendable, and is inexpensive.  Examples include pencils, pens, paper, etc.  Calculators do not fall into this category and must be considered like classroom teaching materials for which school districts are authorized to levy a tax. 

The State Education Department requires the use of calculators for intermediate and high school level mathematics and science assessments.  To the extent that calculators are a necessary part of the educational program, the school district must provide them.  Under no circumstances should students be charged for a calculator or otherwise required to purchase one in order to participate in an educational program. 

School districts may purchase, and must still provide calculators, even if operating under a contingent budget if the calculators are required for participation in the educational program.  

Can school districts charge students if they lose a district-owned calculator?


Can school districts require students to purchase replacement batteries?



Nonpublic School Students

Do public school districts have to provide calculators to nonpublic schools?

The cost of calculators required for the State assessment program for students in nonpublic schools is covered by the state nonpublic mandated services aid reimbursement program.  Nonpublic schools incur the cost of the calculators and are then reimbursed by the State in the following school year.  Nonpublic schools are expected to maintain the inventory and to keep adequate documentation on purchase, assignments to students, retrieving from students and replacing lost or broken units.

Individual pupils or a group of pupils attending a nonpublic elementary or secondary school may request a loan of instructional computer hardware from the public school district in which the nonpublic school district is located.  This includes graphing or scientific calculators.  The equipment that is requested must be used in conjuction with or in support of educational programs.  The public school district is not required to loan hardware in excess of their apportionment of Instructional Computer Hardware and Technology Equipment Aid.  Click here for more information on the loan of hardware and equipment to nonpublic school students beginning with the 2007-08 aid year. 

State Aid

Is State Aid provided to public school districts for the purchase of calculators?

Expenses for graphing or scientific calculators are eligible for reimbursement under the Instructional Computer Hardware and Technology Equipment Aid formula.  Information on how this aid formula changed beginning with the 2007-08 aid year can be found here.

BOCES Services

Are graphic calculators an appropriate expense for a BOCES cooperative services agreement?

No.  Graphic calculators are not appropriate BOCES expenses for cooperative services. While BOCES do purchase computers as part of the Instructional Technology CoSer, these must be labeled as BOCES computers, networked with BOCES and with other school districts and accompanied by some BOCES service such as professional development. Certain calculators are typically used by individual students in math or science instruction and assessment, would not be conducive to sharing with other school districts, and do not require BOCES to add some value concerning their use.

Cost-effective Approaches

Can school districts use cost-effective approaches to providing calculators to students and what are some of them?

Yes.  Examples might include class sets of calculators, calculators available in after school programs, etc.

Do school districts have to provide one calculator per student in all grades or in certain grades?

  Districts need to provide calculators to students in the grades where they are needed for the school's curriculum.  In the grades where they are necessary, sharing of calculators is appropriate provided the needs of all students can be met. However, districts must provide one calculator per student if SED has determined that a calculator is required for participation in the State Assessment. See calculator use guidance for more infomration.

Last Updated: December 6, 2022