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As Seen Through the Eyes of ASA’s K–12 Statistical Ambassador: The State of K–12 Statistics Education

1 September 2017 253 views One Comment

Christine Franklin is the ASA’s first K–12 Statistical Ambassador. She is the lead author of the GAISE pre-K–12 and SET reports, a Fulbright Scholar, an ASA Founder, and a former AP Statistics chief reader.

I am thrilled for this opportunity to briefly share news about my role as the ASA K–12 Statistical Ambassador. As I write this article, I am traveling to ‘down under’ to spend a week in Canberra, Australia, and attend the Australian Association of Math Teachers (AAMT) conference.

AAMT is the Australian equivalent to the USA National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). I am representing the ASA, presenting a keynote address and two breakout sessions, and sharing with our Aussie colleagues the statistical resources and support structures the ASA nurtures and makes available for school-level teachers. Not only am I looking forward to sharing efforts from the United States, I am excited to learn from the research and pedagogical efforts of our Aussie statistics educators.

In today’s data-driven society, there is a pressing need for all citizens to become statistical thinkers. The ASA leadership believes this must begin in the early school years, not just for those students who take one introductory college course. It is essential that statistics education is recognized as central to ensuring all graduating high-school students are “college and career ready.”

Even with national efforts in the past 50+ years to integrate statistical standards at the K–12 level, students are not receiving the recommended experiences with data analysis and statistical reasoning. One contributing factor is a lack of confidence among school-level teachers to deliver the recommended national statistics standards. Although most teacher preparation programs recognize the importance of including statistics in their curriculum, math teacher educators are also struggling with their lack of a statistical background.

The K–12 Statistical Ambassador position was created in 2016 in response to the increasing demand placed on school-level teachers to teach statistics. More often than not, these teachers have little or no training in statistical content. There is also concern that there are few good, peer-reviewed statistical resources. The ASA leadership thought these needs were so critical that the board approved this position to provide leadership and continuity in the creation and presentation of professional development materials for teacher educators and teachers. This ambassador would also present at national conferences, conduct workshops, collaborate with ASA chapters to enhance their education initiatives, and provide outreach to the STEM education community.

I was honored when the ASA leadership came to me and asked if I would accept this position. After 36 years as a faculty person in higher education—as much as I have loved teaching and writing as a statistics educator—I thought it was time to begin a new journey to support K–12 education. This position is what I dreamed of doing—to totally focus my efforts at the school level.

It has been almost a year since I began serving in this position and what an exciting, busy year it has been. Here is a summary of leadership roles for the K–12 ambassador:

  • Liaison with the Joint ASA/NCTM Committee on Curriculum in Probability and Statistics for Grades K–12
  • Serve as managing editor for the new, open resource, peer-reviewed online journal Statistics Teacher
  • Assist with developing a textbook in statistics for teacher educators, supported by the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee
  • Advise the writing team for a statistical modeling book, supported by the ASA/NCTM Joint Committee
  • Write about the NCTM High School Task Force, charged with revisiting high-school math and statistics standards
  • Facilitate review teams for policy documents of other STEM organizations
  • Serve as member of the Career and AP SAT High School Committee
  • Assist the ASA education staff with planning and presenting webinars
  • Assist with facilitating a collaboration between the Joint ASA-NCTM Joint Committee and New Zealand Statistical Association Education committee

Following is a summary of conferences, workshops, and meetings at which I presented and provided professional development during my first year:

  • Eight conferences through July 2017—These conferences include other STEM and complementary areas such as National Science Teacher Conference, National School Counselor Conference, and Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE). The ASA has collaborated with AMTE to support teacher educators in statistics.
  • Four regional workshops through July 2017—These workshops include a workshop for two-year college faculty teaching statistics, Meeting Within a Meeting for school-level teachers held for two days at the Joint Statistical Meetings, an AMTE regional workshop for teacher educators held in Lansing, Michigan, and a workshop for a Mongolian delegation of university faculty and government officials held at the University of Alabama.
  • Ten local and state school visits to present to high-school students the importance of statistics both for career and post-secondary education.

The upcoming months promise to bring continued opportunities for the ambassador position to promote statistics at the school level. Following are a few projects and conferences:

  • Co-chairing (with Anna Bargagliotti) the writing team for updating the Pre-K–12 GAISE Framework
  • Representing the ASA with three presentations at the New Zealand Math Teacher conference in October
  • Presenting at the AMATYC conference for two-year colleges

The support the ASA is giving to the K–12 Statistical Ambassador is being recognized both nationally and internationally by organizations that affect school-level education, leading to invitations for the ambassador to present about the ASA’s school-level efforts. By creating this position, the ASA Board has sent the message that supporting statistics and our teachers at the school level is a top priority and mission of the organization. I am so appreciative of the ASA’s support of K–12 and the confidence in me to serve as the K–12 Statistical Ambassador.

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One Comment »

  • ronald laporte said:

    Very impressive.

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