CCTM 2009: Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education: Progress from K to 12

Presenter: Jerry Moreno, John Carroll University

I attended this session because I'm very interested in the growth of probability and statistics education in K-12 mathematics. I realize now that it was a neglected part of my own education, but as a teacher I find statistics interesting, relevant, and powerful. I also realize, however, that placing greater demands on students to learn probability and statistics means new curricula needs to be developed and other areas of math might be compromised.

Moreno made his feelings towards high school math sequences clear up front: integrated math sequences are the only way to go, and he's helping push the effort in Ohio to rid schools of the traditional Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 sequence. (I believe he said Ohio was trying to standardize class names such as "Math Reasoning 1, 2, and 3" in their place.) Moreno sees probability and statistics as the single largest piece of a puzzle that connects mathematics, science, and social studies, and much could be gained by increasing the use of data analysis in all three subjects.

Moreno's presentation summarized many of the efforts put into the GAISE (Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education) report, an effort of the American Statistical Association to guide implementation of the NCTM Data Analysis and Probability standard. The ASA has produced a collection of student investigations called "Making Sense of Statistical Studies" for upper middle school and high school students. (They're working on sets of investigations for lower grades, building off work found in ASA's Statistics Teacher Network (STN) and other sources. Collectively the projects are known as GAP, or GAISE Activity Project.) During the session we discussed/experienced several quality investigations, dealing with varied topics such as the fairness of pennies, Mentos and Diet Coke, growing dahlias, and death certificate analysis.

There is clearly no lack of quality content available to teach probability and statistics to all levels. It remains to be seen, however, if schools are willing to break with traditions and reallocate their precious time to include more probability and statistics. I'm still wondering where the textbook publishers stand on this, particularly those who sell the traditional Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2 series. Could we ever see a Algebra 1-Prob/Stats-Algebra 2 series, where geometry is reduced to supplementary materials, as many teachers have to do now for probability and statistics? Or will the massive educational inertia be too resistant to such a change?