Back to school (at SAS!) for AP Statistics teachers

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As part of its celebration of the International Year of Statistics, SAS invites 24 teachers to learn more about statistical techniques and the use of SAS in the classroom.

It’s back to school a little early for a group of AP Statistics teachers from North Carolina.

The 24 teachers spent three days at SAS last week taking a course on statistical techniques and the use of SAS® Enterprise Guide®. Offered free of charge, the course emphasized the value of incorporating SAS software into the AP statistics course.

Taught by Herbert Kirk, former long-time head of SAS Education, and Tom Bohannon, Principal Analytical Training Consultant, the course aligns with one of the stated goals of the International Year of Statistics: To nurture statistics as a profession, especially among young people.

“It’s great to learn from these teachers and find out how SAS can support their efforts,” said Julie Petlick, Senior Analytical Training Consultant. “The teachers were eager to give students experience using analytical software and were excited to learn about the career opportunities and demand for these skills. They felt this was a great way to help their students make the connection with what they are learning in their classes and how that will benefit them in the long run.”

Workers with deep statistical knowledge are in high demand and will play an increasingly critical role in our global economy, said Caroline McCullen, Director of Education Initiatives at SAS.   "A new report by McKinsey calls statistics the 'next frontier for innovation' and predicts that by 2018, the US may face a 50% – 60% gap between supply and demand for people with deep analytical talent and advanced training in statistics.  This gap begins in K-12, and programs like the SAS AP Statistics class provide teachers with the skills and awareness they need to guide more students into this exciting career path.”

Teachers talked about takeaways from the course. Hikaru Wajima, who teaches AP Statistics at Raleigh Charter High School, stresses to his students the importance of statistics.   “Every day you see statistics used by people – for example, politicians – to justify an action,” he said. “I want my students to question everything.”

Wajima said SAS Enterprise Guide gives him a good tool to demonstrate statistical ideas, analyze more data and get students excited about data sets. “I want to find data that will interest them or have them bring me some data,” he said. “I’ll have more flexibility as to what I can do in the classroom.”

As a veteran AP Statistics teacher and statistician by training, Celia Rowland from Enloe Magnet High School aims to provide students with the 21st century experiences and applications of the course material.

Her focus recently has been to introduce students to data mining and give them a real-world perspective of how data mining is used in various industries. “I know that in real-life, data mining is not done with a graphing calculator,” Rowland said.  “Giving my students the opportunity to use SAS Enterprise Guide to evaluate data in large data sets provides them with valuable experiences and learning opportunities.”

Rowland said her students who go on to summer internships or part-time employment while in college are hired because they have had exposure to the data analysis tools that are used in the research lab or university setting.”

SAS learned a lot from the teachers during the three days, Petlick said. “We have some planned enhancements to the materials to align more with the specific topics covered in AP Stat, as well as what they would like to be able to achieve using SAS Enterprise Guide.”

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Kim Darnofall

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