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The Statistics Education of Teachers

1 March 2014 483 views No Comment
This year marks the ASA’s 175th birthday. To celebrate, the column “175”—written by members of the ASA’s 175th Anniversary Steering Committee and other ASA members—will chronicle the theme chosen for the celebration, status of preparations, activities to take place, and—best yet—how you can get involved.

Contributing Editors
ChrisFranklinChristine Franklin is the Lothar Tresp Honoratus Honors Professor in Statistics at the University of Georgia. She was the lead writer for the ASA Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework. She is an ASA Fellow and was honored in 2013 with the CAUSE/USCOTS Lifetime Achievement Award in Statistics Education.




JacobbePictureTim Jacobbe is an associate professor of mathematics and statistics education at the University of Florida. He is the principle investigator for the NSF-funded Levels of Conceptual Understanding of Statistics (LOCUS) Project, as well as an author of books from NCTM and the ASA aimed at helping teachers teach statistics.




The opportunity of “statistical literacy” for all is upon us! The release in 2012 and widespread adoption in most states of the Common Core State Standard for Mathematics (CCSSM) have dramatically increased the amount of statistical content and expectations for teaching statistics in grades 6–12.

As you view the standards for statistics, you may say, “This sounds similar to the course content in an AP Statistics course or a college introductory statistics course.” The statistics standards at K–12 are intended to introduce basic statistics topics at an intuitive and conceptual level using case studies, technology, and simulation. In light of these increased expectations of delivering conceptually based statistical content at K–12, the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) identified the statistical preparation of teachers as an area of concern in their recent document, Mathematics Education of Teachers 2 (MET2).

Despite the increased attention statistics is receiving in national and state standards, research suggests teachers are not likely to be adequately prepared to teach statistics at the level suggested in the American Statistical Association’s Pre-K–12 Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Framework or the CCSSM.

The CBMS MET1 and MET2 documents emphasize the need for teacher preparation in statistics; however, the documents’ primary focus is the mathematics education of teachers. The Joint ASA-NCTM Committee thought there was a critical need for a companion document, titled Statistics Education of Teachers (SET). The ASA has the statistical preparation of K–12 teachers as one of its strategic priorities. Just as the ASA took the lead with the Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework document in 2003, the ASA executive board enthusiastically approved supporting a strategic initiative for the development and writing of the SET document.

We are excited to co-chair this effort and to work with a team of committed and dedicated writers: Anna Bargagliotti, Gary Kader, Richard Scheaffer, and Denise Splanger. These writers are highly respected in the mathematics and statistics education communities for their professional efforts in promoting statistics in writing national standards and resources for K–12 and teacher preparation, as well as developing appropriate assessment for K–12 statistics. The work of the writing team will build on the following:

  • Existing K–12 statistics standards and guidelines (Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework, NCTM Standards, and Common Core State Standards in Mathematics)
  • Relevant research results from the studies of teaching and learning statistics
  • Data on assessment items used in large-scale and high-stakes tests and the work of the NSF-funded LOCUS project (the assessment piece of the Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework)
  • Experiences of teacher preparation institutions that are recognized leaders in the statistical preparation of K–12 teachers

In February 2013, a joint position statement of the American Statistical Association and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, “Preparing K–12 Teachers of Statistics,” was released. The SET project is one of many ways the ASA is showing its commitment to supporting the recommendations of this position statement.

The writing team met in October 2013 to outline the format and priorities of the document. The timeline for completion is fall 2014, with the ASA Board considering the document for approval before the end of December 2014. During the upcoming months as drafts of the document are written, an advisory group of respected statistics and mathematics educators will review it.

Once approved by the ASA, these guidelines will be posted on the ASA website and submitted to professional organizations such as NCTM, MAA, and CBMS, as well as to funding agencies such as NSF. The Joint ASA-NCTM committee also will sponsor printed versions of SET.

The ASA is again demonstrating its vision by supporting this necessary document for the national K–12 education community. Just as with the vision shown by supporting the Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework, a document that was available for the Common Core writers, we believe SET is critical for teacher preparation institutions and state departments of education in meeting the new and sudden challenges of infusing more statistics content and pedagogy into the training of pre-service and in-service teachers. The Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework has become influential internationally. We envision the same for SET—a special addition to the ASA’s support of the International Year of Statistics.

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