Guidelines for Graphing Calculator
Use for Commencement-Level Mathematics
Graphing calculators are instrumental in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The use of
this technology should be integrated as an investigative tool at the commencement level.
Students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics will be increased, and the connections
between graphical and algebraic representation will be enhanced through targeted use of
graphing calculators and other technological tools. Algebraic and analytical approaches (pencil
and paper techniques) to solving problems should still be stressed.
The Standards for Mathematical Practice describe areas of expertise that mathematics educators
at all levels should seek to develop in their students. These practices rest on important processes
and proficiencies with longstanding importance in mathematics education. An integral part of the
NYS P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for Mathematics at the commencement level is the
use of the graphing calculator. The calculator should be used for all types of classroom activities
and homework, whenever possible. Mathematically proficient students will determine the
appropriate use of a graphing calculator when solving a problem. For example, mathematically
proficient high school students analyze graphs of functions and solutions generated using a
graphing calculator. A graphing calculator can help a student make sense of a mathematical
problem and persevere in solving it as well as attending to precision.
Please note that schools must make a graphing calculator available for the exclusive use of each
student while taking Regents Examinations in mathematics. No students may use calculators that
are capable of symbol manipulation or that can communicate with other calculators through
infrared sensors, nor may students use operating manuals, instruction or formula cards, or other
information concerning the operation of calculators during the exam. Symbol manipulation
calculators are calculators capable of doing symbolic algebra or symbolic calculus (for example,
factoring, expanding, or simplifying given variable output). The memory of any calculator
with programming capability must be cleared, reset, or disabled when students enter the
testing room. If the memory of a student’s calculator is password-protected and cannot be
cleared, the calculator must not be used.
For questions in which the graphing calculator can be used, students should be trained to show
enough of their work so that their approach to problem solving can be easily followed. For
students to be awarded the maximum points allowable for a particular constructed-response
question, they must be able to communicate the method employed by illustrating their graph,
table, or setup (equation), followed by the result of their investigation(s). The answer to the
question should also be clearly identified, often by using a sentence or phrase response.
Whenever appropriate, complete sentences should also be used to support results so that
mathematical reasoning can be easily interpreted. Teachers should encourage the use of a
“rule of three”– setup, method, response (answering in sentence form when appropriate).
When taking Regents Examinations in mathematics, students will be expected to perform
tasks using a graphing calculator as described below:
• Performing basic arithmetic and algebraic operations as found on a scientific calculator
• Graphing algebraic and exponential functions in an appropriate viewing window
• Determining roots of functions and the points of intersection(s) of curves
• Solving linear and quadratic inequalities graphically
• Creating scatter plots and residual plots
• Determining a regression equation: linear, quadratic, exponential, or power
• Determining a linear correlation coefficient, r (Please note that r, r2 and R2 cannot be
directly compared when calculating certain regression models.)
• Determining the variance and standard deviation of a set of data (population and/or
• Determining the appropriate MODE setting for solving each problem
• Indicating the number of scores, the mean, and the appropriate standard deviation. The
standard deviation for a population, σ, is calculated by using “n,” whereas the standard
deviation for a sample, s, is calculated by using “n – 1.” Students should be able to
differentiate between a population and a sample.
• Using the full potential of the technology by storing all of the digits produced by the
calculator during computation. Rounding to the specified degree of accuracy should be
done only at the end of all computation when the final answer is found.
• Performing trigonometric calculations with right triangles
• Graphing trigonometric and logarithmic functions in an appropriate viewing window
• Finding the inverse of a function
• Determining a regression equation: trigonometric and logarithmic
Expectations for sketches and graphs:
• Same degree equations are labeled when graphed on the same set of axes
(no deduction if the student fails to label only one graphed equation)
• Axes appropriately labeled – variables identified and scale stated if not 1 to 1
• Intercepts noted, where appropriate
• Points of intersection labeled
• In the graphs of nonlinear functions, at least three points should be indicated showing the
curvature on the graph or represented as a table of coordinate values.
• Intercepts are acceptable, and when appropriate, the turning point should also be
indicated in the graph of the parabola.
If a student sketches a graph not on a grid for problems where grid use is optional, the above
criteria for sketches and graphs still apply.
The problems that follow illustrate what students should show when using a graphing calculator
in order to be awarded the maximum points allowable on the scoring rubric for each constructedresponse
question. Please note that each example shown does not represent the only method that
a student may use with his or her calculator to solve the problem.
A.REI.6 Solve systems of linear equations exactly and approximately (e.g., with graphs),
focusing on pairs of linear equations in two variables.
Albany begins the day with 5 inches of snow on the ground and Buffalo begins the same day with
2 inches of snow on the ground. Two snowstorms begin at the same time in Albany and Buffalo,
snowing at a rate of 0.8 inches per hour in Albany and 1.4 inches per hour in Buffalo. The number
of inches of snow on the ground in Albany and Buffalo during the course of these snowstorms are
modeled by f(x) and g(x), respectively.
f(x) = 0.8x + 5
g(x) = 1.4x + 2
Determine the number of hours (x) that would pass before Albany and Buffalo have the same
amount of snow on the ground. [The use of the grid below is optional.]
The student entered both equations into a graphing calculator and graphed both equations on the
accompanying grid. The functions, intercepts, and intersection were labeled correctly. The
student made a statement that 5 hours would pass based on the point of intersection.
F.BF.3 Identify the effect on the graph of replacing f(x) by f(x) + k, k f(x), f(kx), and f(x + k) for
specific values of k (both positive and negative); find the value of k given the graphs. Experiment
with cases and illustrate an explanation of the effects on the graph using technology. Include
recognizing even and odd functions from their graphs and algebraic expressions for them.
The function f(x) is given below.
f(x) = x2 +2x – 3
Describe the effect on the graph of f(x), if g(x) = f(x – 5).
Show that the vertices of f(x) and g(x) support your description.
[The use of the set of axes below is optional.]
The student entered both functions in the graphing calculator and graphs f(x) and g(x) = f(x − 5) on
the accompanying set of axes. The functions, roots, intercepts, and vertices were labeled. The student
made a statement that f(x) has moved five units to the right, and the vertices support this shift.
S.ID.6a Fit a function to the data; use functions fitted to data to solve problems in the context of
the data. Use given functions or choose a function suggested by the context. Emphasize linear,
quadratic, and exponential models.
The table below, created in 1996, shows a history of transit fares from 1955 to 1995. On the grid
below, construct a scatter plot where the independent variable is years. State the exponential
regression equation with the coefficient and base rounded to the nearest thousandth. Using this
equation, determine the prediction that should have been made for the year 1998, to the nearest cent.
Year (19xx) 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95
Fare ($) 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.15 1.50
The student used appropriate labels and scales to appropriately graph the given data. The student
entered the data into a graphing calculator to obtain the regression equation. The appropriate
substitution into the regression equation was shown, producing the predicted value for 1998. The
value was rounded correctly.
F.IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of
graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a
verbal description of the relationship.
A model rocket is launched from a platform in a flat, level field and lands in the same field. The
height of the rocket follows the function, f(x) = –16x2 + 150x + 5, where f(x) is the height, in feet,
of the rocket and x is the time, in seconds, since the rocket is launched.
Determine the maximum height, to the nearest tenth of a foot, the rocket reaches.
Determine the length of time, to the nearest tenth of a second, from when the rocket is launched
until it hits the ground. [The use of the grid below is optional.]
The student entered the function into a graphing calculator and graphed the function on the
accompanying grid. The student appropriately labeled the scale on both axes. The intercepts and
vertex were found using the graphing calculator and labeled on the graph. The student clearly
stated both correctly rounded answers .
S.ID.8 Compute (using technology) and interpret the correlation coefficient of a linear fit.
The table below shows the relationship between the length of a person’s foot and the length of his
or her stride.
Foot (in inches) (x) Stride (in inches) (y)
Write the linear regression equation for this set of data, rounding all values to the nearest
Using the linear correlation coefficient, explain how accurate this function is in predicting a
person’s stride length.
Predict the stride length, in inches, of a person whose foot measures 8 inches.
The student correctly entered the table values into the graphing calculator and followed the correct
key strokes to obtain the correct linear regression equation. The student then used the graphing
calculator to find the correlation coefficient and wrote a correct explanation. The student used the
calculator to obtain the correct answer.