Saturday, August 20, 2011

Stats Class- Standards

I started out by looking up the state standards in Data & Probability.  Minnesota has not yet adopted the Common Core Standards.   We just adopted new math standards in 2007 in which all 8th grade students must take Algebra 1.  High school students cannot receive credit for Algebra 1.  Many people in the Minnesota Department of Education and many Minnesota teachers feel that the state standards are more rigorous than the common core standards.  Additionally, the math standards are not scheduled to be revised until 2015, and making changes before hand would require legislative action.  I thought I saw something in an article about the end of the shutdown that the legislature approved changing the standards sooner, but now I can't find the article.  In case Minnesota ends up adopting those standards and so I can know what is relevant to teachers outside of Minnesota, I looked up the Common Core Data & Probability standards.  Then for good measure, I took a gander at the AP Statistics Standards.

In summary, I don't see how high schools can just squeeze those things into other classes.  My geometry textbook had a chapter of probability lessons tacked on at the end.  Yeah, like I have spare time in a geometry class.

AP Statistics Standards: (found here)
Common Core Statistics & Probability Standards: (found here)
MN Statistics & Probability Standards: (found here)

Ignoring the fact that the AP test only briefly covers probability, at least it is easy to read and decipher what the heck IS covered. I've been using the MN 2007 standards since I have started teaching so I really like the boxed layout and the occasional insertion of samples, but man, those standards are packed.  There are only 15 standards, but they each cover like 5 things.  For example,

"Describe a data set using data displays, including box-and-whisker plots; describe and compare data sets using summary statistics, including measures of center, location and spread. Measures of center and location include mean, median, quartile and percentile. Measures of spread include standard deviation, range and inter-quartile range. Know how to use calculators, spreadsheets or other technology to display data and calculate summary statistics." 

First you have to know all these ways to describe data, and compare them, and measures of spread, and center, and oh ps, all that technology stuff.  At least it is specific and tells you exactly which measures of spread and center students/teachers are responsible for.

Then, there is the common core. The standards are a bit more broken down than MN, but some are still biggies.   Like this one.  You know it's big because it comes with parts a-c

S-ID.6. Represent data on two quantitative variables on a scatter plot, and describe how the variables are related.
a. 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.
b. Informally assess the fit of a function by plotting and analyzing residuals.
c. Fit a linear function for a scatter plot that suggests a linear association.

At first glance that doesn't sound too bad, its just scatter plots and fitting linear functions to a scatter plot.  But then there is the line about "Emphasize linear, quadratic, and exponential models."  Knowing my students they will remember what linear is, but not how to write an equation and will flop what the slope is an the y-intercept is.  They will recall that quadratics was that really, really long and difficult unit.  And we just scraped the surface on exponential. 

Then there are others that are super vague. "S-IC.6. Evaluate reports based on data." Ooookkkk.  Evaulate how?  What kinds of reports?  What kinds of data? Awesome.  I get the general idea and I think that yes, students should be able to evaluate reports based on data, but some clarification would be nice.  I think I heard that specifications and examples were coming out soonish.

So where does this leave me, the first year stats teacher?  A little lost.  I'm going to build my skills set around the MN standards because that's what my students will be tested on. 

Now to actually do that.

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