Back to

Smarter Balanced Calculators: Powered by Desmos

Smarter Balanced and Desmos are proud to offer calculators that are both free to students and include cutting edge accessibility features. Built with universal design in mind, the calculators provide features and resources for students with a variety of accessibility needs. You can use them in the classroom, in remote settings, and on your assessments. Try them out!

Student using mobile device while studying

Accessibility Features

  • NEW! Support for Braille. Students who are blind can read and write equations using the two mathematical braille codes used in the United States: Nemeth and Unified English Braille (UEB).
  • Accessible graphs. Students who are blind can create their own graphs in real time and determine the shape of a graph through audio trace. The pitch of the tone increases or decreases depending on the shape of the wave or graph. Students can then emboss their graphs and share print or braille versions with classmates and teachers.
  • Support for screen readers. Fully supporting keyboard navigation, the calculators communicate with screen readers, which voice additional cues to indicate a student’s location within an expression or within a graph (numerator or denominator, superscript or subscript, baseline, points on the graph, etc.). Paired with a refreshable braille display, these features offer students who use braille the same opportunity as their peers to access an online calculator.
  • Colors that have sufficient contrast.The calculators provide support for students who have low vision or students who have difficulty with visual perceptual skills.
  • Adjustable font-size settings.The calculators allow students to adjust font size if they prefer larger print.

The Smarter Balanced Desmos calculator is also compliant with the latest web accessibility standards.

How many test questions include a calculator?

Not every question on Smarter Balanced assessments allow students to use a calculator. Below are the approximate percentages of test questions for each grade that include calculator access.

  • Grade 6: about 50% of test questions
  • Grade 7: about 70%
  • Grade 8: about 80%
  • Grade 11: about 65%

Desmos Resources

Learn more about the Smarter Balanced Desmos calculator, including how to configure the screen reader on your device, how to activate audio trace, and a comprehensive list of keyboard shortcuts:

Note: Please check your state-specific calculator resources available through your state assessment portal.

You can also download the Desmos app for iOS and Android.

How can the Desmos calculators be used?

  • In the Classroom:
  • On the Assessments:
    • Practice sample assessment items with the Desmos Calculators on the Smarter Balanced Sample Items Website.
    • To help students and teachers prepare for assessments—and to support delivery of tests and quizzes in classrooms—Desmos developed a suite of "Test Mode" apps that match the configuration that students will encounter on test day.
  • In the Remote or Home Setting:
    • Use calculators to complete homework.
    • Use calculators during synchronous or asynchronous teaching and learning activities.
    • Create graphs to download, print, emboss in braille, or share electronically.
    • Complete math activities from Tools for Teachers (teacher access only).
    • Desmos offers curated collections of activities by grade that are translated into multiple languages and are well-suited to asynchronous, distance learning.