StatSmart: World first project has the numbers, August 2006

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August 1, 2006
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

StatSmart: World first project has the numbers

A major collaboration between the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and its partners will result in a world first study of statistical literacy in the classroom.

"StatSmart is an exciting three-year initiative that provides the perfect avenue to show students how data can be acquired and used to make informed judgements in their lives," said Australian Statistician, Dennis Trewin.

"Student participation should generate enthusiasm for statistics and encourage their future studies and careers in the field.

"The ABS has always taken an active interest in promoting statistical literacy with Australian students and teachers and is particularly interested in initiatives that will increase student understanding of, and enthusiasm for, statistics encouraging enrolments at the senior secondary level and then university.

"Statistical literacy is a skill that is becoming increasingly important in an age where there is an ever-increasing demand to source, compile and analyse information to make informed judgements."

The ABS will undertake the project in collaboration with partners: The University of Tasmania (Professor Jane Watson), The University of New England (Dr. Rosemary Callingham), The Noel Baker Centre for School Mathematics and Key Curriculum Press. The project is partly funded by the Australian Research Council under the Linkage Scheme.

As part of the study, teachers will develop a professional learning plan appropriate to their own school that will include teaching a unit of work to students. The professional development program will conform to the principles of successful professional learning acknowledged around the world.

The study will encourage school-based projects; foster collaboration among teachers; provide professional development providers and researchers over three years; and have a commitment to increasing and reporting change in the understanding of teachers and students.

Considerable support will be provided to teachers through attendance at three specialist conferences, ongoing contact with a dedicated researcher, school visits by researchers, and electronic support such as email lists and discussion boards. The commitment from participating schools would involve committing at least two middle school teachers to the program for a three-year period.

This media release was distributed to media on Tuesday 1 August 2006.