Literacy for University Entrance: Views from NZSA Education Committee

Literacy and Statistics

The Education Committee of the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) is very pleased to
see that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) is consulting on the University
Entrance (UE) Literacy List. This statement is offered as input into NZQA’s review (via, and is being made available on CensusAtSchool. We are part of a
‘subject association’ (as in the consultation document) with a strong ‘interest in the list’.
NZQA’s consultation document is at

We see it as extremely important that achievement standards from areas like and including
Statistics remain in and are added to the list. Statistics at present has two standards in the list,
with no proposed removals or additions. They are: 91266, 2.11, int (Reading only); and 91584,
3.12, ext (Reading and Writing both);. Other Statistics internal standards require a written report
and evaluation of evidence, usually in writing. We would like to see some more of the L2 and L3
Statistics standards count towards UE literacy.

Tension between text and other methods of communication
We see a tension between the need for written work and the need to allow students
opportunities to present their best evidence against a standard in a variety of ways.
We think it is completely fair that NZQA requires UE literacy writing evidence to come from work
that is written. It makes sense, at present, to exclude standards where this cannot be
guaranteed. However, If a large number of standards were required to be assessed entirely in writing, the
results could include student overwork and boredom, teacher overwork, and student flight.
We would like to see more flexibility in how students gain literacy, and a change to the difficulty
that many schools and students face at present. We see the need for a dialogue to find
solutions to this tension.

One such solution would be to require the submitted work to include a written abstract or
summary, for nominated standards. This is an important part of science communication across
many subjects, and would fit well with other methods of presentation.
Another solution would be to make some standards restricted to written reports, so they could
count towards UE literacy, and to keep others with open assessment.
We are aware of a strong teacher view that, under the present system, many students have
difficulty meeting the UE literacy requirements. As Statistics is the second largest subject at
NCEA Level 3, increased opportunities for UE literacy within our communication-focused subject
would be beneficial for many students.

Ongoing dialogue
In the light of:
● student difficulties in meeting UE literacy requirements,
● the large amount of UE literacy-relevant work often done at present for the statistics
standards, especially the internals,
● and the large number of students who attempt NCEA Level 3 Statistics Achievement Standards,

we would like to see a solution where more statistical standards count for UE literacy.
We are happy to expand on our ideas and possible solutions with NZQA, if and when that is
useful. ‘

To contact the Education Committee, please email the Committee’s Convenor:

2018 Ihaka Lecture series

Tonight is the last in this years Ihaka Lecture series. If you missed any you can watch them at: Link:

Speaker:     Alberto Cairo
Affiliation: University of Miami
Title:       Visual trumpery: How charts lie
Date:        Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Time:        6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Location:    6.30pm, Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Building 301, 23 Symonds Street, City Campus, Auckland Central.

In our final 2018 Ihaka lecture, Alberto Cairo (Knight Chair in Visual
Journalism at the University of Miami) will deliver the following:
Visual trumpery: How charts lie — and how they make us smarter

Please join us for refreshments from 6pm in the foyer area outside the
lecture theatre.

With facts and truth increasingly under assault, many interest groups have
enlisted charts — graphs, maps, diagrams, etc. — to support all manner of
spin. Because digital images are inherently shareable and can quickly
amplify messages, sifting through the visual information and misinformation
is an important skill for any citizen.

The use of graphs, charts, maps and infographics to explore data and
communicate science to the public has become more and more popular.
However, this rise in popularity has not been accompanied by an increasing
awareness of the rules that should guide the design of these
visualisations. This talk teaches normal citizens principles to become a more critical and
better informed readers of charts.

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of
Miami. He’s also the director of the visualisation programme at UM’s Center
for Computational Science. Cairo has been a director of infographics and
multimedia at news publications in Spain (El Mundo, 2000-2005) and Brazil
(Editora Globo, 2010-2012,) and a professor at the University of North
Carolina-Chapel Hill. Besides teaching at UM, he works as a freelancer and
consultant for companies such as Google and Microsoft. He’s the author of
the books The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and
Visualization (2012) and The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for
Communication (2016).

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Relevant topics for public consultation in statistics education

The Ministry of Education is leading a review of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). The Education committee for NZSA has prepared a statement into topics affecting the review. Please read  Topics for NCEA Review from NZSA Education Committee.

The Committee’s statement says: “This document is offered as input into the Ministry’s review. The education committees views are based on our readings of recent assessments, on concerns heard from teachers, and on our collective experience in statistics education. One of our goals is to provide expert guidance in statistics education, where we can.”

Finally, submissions for a review of the UE literacy standards are due by the 13th of April, so if you want to have your say on these complete a survey.

Thanks to Vicki Haverkort, HOD Mathematics at Huanui College for sending these photos of Year 7 students entering their CensusAtSchool data and how they used the data to model the PPDAC cycle.

Students stood in a circle to visually see how large Tane Mahuta’s girth is at the end of the lesson.

Stats NZ – News

Stats NZ have analysed the data. View the newsletter from Stats NZ, a great resource to share with your colleagues.

Features: NZ climate change (excellent short video) and internet usage.

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Feedback on the draft Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko consultation booklet
from the Education Committee of the New Zealand Statistical Association

The statement comes from the Education Committee of the New Zealand Statistical Association on September 2 2017, as feedback to the Ministry of Education on their consultation document Strengthening Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko in the Curriculum. It will be available on CensusAtSchool for NZ’s statistical education community. For background on the Association and Committee, see  and

Data scientists form the second group that the Minister lists in her Foreword to the document that exemplify those for whom creating and developing digital technologies will be a core requirement for success.

The New Zealand Statistical Association through its Education Committee is keen to engage with the working groups on Digital Technologies as they further develop the Digital Technology strand  on identifying and exploiting synergies that can advance data science in New Zealand schools.

Many countries are starting to recognise that, in this increasingly data-rich and data-dependent world, their curricula need to do much more to educate students in data science and that this should be done quickly. We are involved in an Australian working group planning for data science as a senior secondary subject in Australia and are in contact with others in the US and UK.

Important elements of data science are already taught in New Zealand’s statistics strand of the Mathematics and Statistics learning area, but equally there are important gaps that could profitably be addressed by learning or practicing computational thinking and coding in the context of solving data science problems. We would very much like to see these become priority contexts particularly over the latter years of secondary school.

Additionally, in contrast to similar digital technology documents from Australia and the US, the consultation document does not give any real visibility to harvesting, manipulating, analysing and visualising data in pursuit of real-world insights, and to the potentials and limitations of data. We think that the NZ digital technology document should include these aspects and we would like to assist with this.

To balance our gentle criticisms, which could be seen as towards the margins of the central push of this curriculum, we find a lot to like in the consultation document. We strongly believe that many more students should learn to think algorithmically, to implement their ideas in computer code, and to gain a propensity to use these skills when faced with new problems. We like the slow build-up in the consultation document of computational thinking skills over time, beginning with hands-on tasks and games before involving computers. Abilities in algorithmic thinking and coding are widely applicable skills that are very important to a modern society. But data science is also important to a modern society and we would like to see the educational advances in the former also foster educational advances in the latter.

As a final side point, because of radical changes when the most recent statistics curriculum content came out we have experience in helping to upskill a teacher community to teach areas that teachers have not been educated in. Our experiences may be useful to those planning further training for digital technologies.

To reinforce our major point, the Education Committee of the New Zealand Statistical Association is keen to engage with those developing the Digital Technologies strand on aspects that can connect with data science.

Teaching Statistics MOOC Eds

The Friday Institute have opened registration for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) Fall 2017.

Two of these will be of interest to teachers of Statistics, or pair up with another subject area to look for overlaps!

Teaching statistics through data investigations

Teaching statistics through inferential reasoning


Joel measuring his armspan

Liv’s height being measured

Nathaniel, Cristo and Sean attempting to stand on one leg with their eyes closed

to census

Thanks to Micheline Evans of Clyde Quay School in Wellington for sharing these photos of students taking part in CensusAtSchool.



Thanks to Heather McIntyre of Te Karaka Area School for sending these photos of students taking part in CensusAtSchool.

Anna-Marie Fergusson (The University of Auckland) presented a workshop and webinar on Statistical Reasoning with Data Cards.

“Using data cards in the teaching of statistics can be a powerful way to build students’ statistical reasoning. Important understandings related to working with multivariate data, posing statistical questions, recognizing sampling variation and thinking about models can be developed. The use of real-life data cards involves hands-on and visual-based activities.”

Anna’s work using physical data cards and digital technology supports pedagogy required to effectively teach statistical reasoning. This talk presented material from the Meeting Within a Meeting (MWM) Statistics Workshop for Mathematics and Science teachers held at JSM Chicago (2016) which can be used in classrooms to support teaching statistical thinking and reasoning, key teaching and learning ideas that underpin the activities were also discussed.

Download the webinar accompanying files

Please share this excellent resource widely with your teaching colleagues and post any feedback you have about the resources or webinar.