From 0 to 50 in Nothing Flat!

Roxy Peck
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Opispo, CA

Newsletter for the Section on Statistical Education
Volume 8, Number 1 (Winter 2002)

Who would have guessed (well, other than maybe Dick Scheaffer!) in 1997 when the first Advanced Placement examination in Statistics was given that we would now be preparing for about 50,000 high school students to take the exam in the spring. After setting a record for the largest number of exams in the first year of a new subject, AP Statistics has continued to set records as one of the fastest growing AP subjects.

How will 50,000 exams get graded? More than 230 college and high school statistics instructors will gather at the University of Nebraska for a week in June to get the job done. In addition to scoring the exams, there is also plenty of time during the week for professional and social interaction. The rapid growth in the statistics program has created a need for additional faculty consultants to assist with the scoring. If you teach introductory statistics, and are interested in applying, you can fill out the online application at readers/apply.html.

The success of the AP statistics course also presents an opportunity and a challenge for those who teach statistics at the university level. The opportunity: Imagine 50,000 high school students who have a real understanding of what statistics is all about! For those institutions with undergraduate programs in statistics, this is a great source of potential students, and many institutions that have focused recruiting efforts on AP Statistics students have seen an increase in the number of undergraduates choosing to major or minor in statistics. The challenge: Imagine 50,000 high school students who have a real understanding of what statistics is all about! For those who choose to major in another discipline, where do we take them from here? Developing second courses for these students who have had a good first experience with statistics and want to broaden their statistical knowledge or who may need to take an additional course to satisfy a general education and breadth requirement is something that many institutions are currently considering. And perhaps an even bigger challenge for universities will be rethinking the content of the general introductory statistics course to take advantage of the statistics background that all students, not just those who have taken the AP statistics course, will have as statistics and data analysis are effectively integrated into the high school mathematics curriculum. (OK, we aren't there yet, but look at the progress that has been made in the ten years!)

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