ASA and PAA Launch U.S. Census-at-School Program

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The American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Population Association of America (PAA) this week launch the US. Census-at-School program and the debut of the updated Census-at-School web site. Census at School, which began in the United Kingdom in 2000, is an international project that gathers real data from and about students and then returns the data and teaching and learning resources to them and their teachers for use in their classes. The program helps to get both groups hooked on statistics and enhances their skills in data handling, statistics and statistical thinking.

Following a successful pilot program in Washington-DC schools this past winter, Census at School is ready for prime time

The American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Population Association of America (PAA) announce the national launch this week of the US. Census-at-School program and the debut of the updated Census-at-School web site. Census at School, which began in the United Kingdom in 2000, is an international project that gathers real data from and about students and then returns the data and teaching and learning resources to them and their teachers for use in their classes. The program helps to get both groups hooked on statistics and enhances their skills in data handling, statistics and statistical thinking.

“Following a successful pilot program in Washington-DC schools this past winter, Census at School is ready for prime time,” said Martha Aliaga, ASA Director of Education. “We are encouraging teachers, as well as users and producers of statistics at all levels to get involved, both to promote the good practice of statistics in schools and to encourage more students to eventually join the statistics profession.”

The Census-at-School program helps to increase statistical literacy and underscores the importance of the home-country census for school-aged learners, their teachers and their parents. It raises students’ interest in participating in a national and international census-related project and provides access to internationally comparable data. Finally, it promotes the use of web-based data-visualisation tools.

ASA and PAA welcome the participation of teachers across the U.S. in the program and are seeking champions to help expand the Census-at-School program across the United States. This is a wonderful opportunity for statisticians and statistics educators to perform outreach in their communities. For more information about how you can get involved, email Martha Aliaga at martha(at)amstat(dot)org.

How Census at School works
Census at School is based on the principle that you can best gain school children’s interest in and foster a positive attitude toward statistics by giving them data that involves them -- data about themselves. In the program, this is done by having students in grades 4—12, under the direction of their teachers, anonymously complete an online questionnaire about such things as the length of a student’s right foot, her height, favorite subject in school, and how long it takes to get to school.

Students then can engage in statistical problem solving by formulating questions of interest that can be answered with the data, collecting and selecting the appropriate data, analyzing the data, and making appropriate conclusions in context. They can make comparisons between their responses and the responses of students in different countries. The statistical problem-solving process across different levels is described in the Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report: A Pre-K–12 Curriculum Framework, available online at http://www.amstat.org/education/gaise.

Census-at-School web site
The material developed from the pilot project is available on the updated Census at School web site – http://www.amstat.org/censusatschool/. The web site includes the U.S. online questionnaire, a random data sampler to extract data from questionnaires submitted by students from across the country, and a link to the international data sampler.

The site also houses tools for teachers to use in their classroom. One such example resource are webinars presented by William Finzer, leader of the Fathom Dynamic Data Software development team, titled “Exploring Census at School Data from Around the World with Fathom” and "Exploring U.S. Census at School with Fathom-Looking for Patterns." Many lesson plans and other resources are available on the Census-at-School web sites of each participating country; links are available on the U.S. site.

About PAA
The Population Association of America (PAA) is a nonprofit, scientific, professional organization established to promote the improvement, advancement and progress of the human race through research of problems related to human population. PAA members include demographers, sociologists, economists, public health professionals, and other individuals interested in research and education in the population field. More information about PAA is available at http://www.populationassociaiton.org.

About the American Statistical Association
Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the American Statistical Association is the world’s largest community of statisticians and the second oldest continuously operating professional society in the United States. For 170 years, the ASA has supported excellence in the development, application, and dissemination of statistical science through meetings, publications, membership services, education, accreditation, and advocacy. Its members serve in industry, government, and academia in more than 90 countries, advancing research and promoting sound statistical practice to inform public policy and improve human welfare. For additional information about the American Statistical Association, please visit the ASA web site at http://www.amstat.org or call 703.684.1221.

For more information:
Rosanne Desmone                
Public Relations Manager            
American Statistical Association            
703.302.1861 direct                
703.946.3820 mobile                
rosanne(at)amstat(dot)org

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