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Statisticians and data scientists are employed by all types of organizations, including professional sports teams. Join the AMA sports analytics webinar to learn what sports statisticians do and what education is required to become the “Bill James” of your favorite sport.

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Mathematics and Statistics are both core members of the STEM subjects and potent enablers of all the others. This document clarifies what is distinctive about statistics and its educational needs.

What distinguishes Statistics from the rest of “Mathematics and Statistics?”

Statistics is the science of learning from data and of measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty” (American Statistical Association). It has real data at its core, and its defining purpose is learning about the real world by collecting, analysing, and interpreting data. Anything else simply provides a means that may be useful for achieving those ends. Concerns about uncertainty and data variation lead to distinctive thought processes.

How Statistics is changing

While the most fundamental, underpinning concepts of statistics are unchanging, the means by which we extract insights from data are changing rapidly as a result of digital technology – and technologically enabled advances, such as advances in data visualisation and data wrangling, are making its benefits accessible to a much wider cross-section of students and society. The nature and size of the data we have to deal with is changing rapidly too (e.g. the rise of big data), as is its increasing ubiquity.

Because of ongoing changes in the technologies people interact with and the automation of routine processes, skills in thinking with data, and skills in communicating the real-world lessons we learn from data, are becoming much more important (for almost everyone) than skills in doing.

How Statistics pedagogy is changing

The shifts from doing to thinking and communicating, and from “by-hand” construction to the routine use of digital technology, pose huge challenges: for teachers because they were themselves educated in the historical modes; and for a system that relies on changes being slow enough so that the majority of examiners, textbook writers, experienced teachers, etc. can be current.

What Statistics needs

Statistics education in New Zealand needs mechanisms for transmitting core learnings from very small numbers of specialists to the system as a whole. What it means to teach “thinking” and “communicating” about data, and arriving at understandings of how to go about that, are things that very small numbers of thinkers, researchers and lead teachers are developing, drawing on fundamental educational principles and real-world experience with data analysis. These learnings are not something that can just happen in Learning Communities, though these Communities should be a very useful downstream component of dissemination and professional development strategies.

What Statistics has

In New Zealand we have some of the best statistics education researchers in the world, the most forward-looking curriculum, many innovative and creative teachers, excellent relationships between stakeholders, excellent international connections, and a desire for continued progress.


The Education Committee of the New Zealand Statistical Association (NZSA) is very keen to work with any stakeholder who wishes to further improve New Zealand’s statistical education system so that it gives a more valuable preparation for the future lives and careers of our students, and helps build a more data literate and capable society.

Education Committee, New Zealand Statistical Association, 1 August 2016

(To contact, email the Committee’s Convenor:

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Term 2 News

Kia ora Statistics teachers.

We hope you are enjoying teaching students to discover stories in data, and to practice their statistical literacy skills.

Skills in statistics will be invaluable now and in the future, check out The beauty of data visualization then see New Zealand clearly.

Term 2 Updates:

Nga Mihi

The CensusAtSchool team



See how your students could soon be using statistics and models to predict the future.

There are examples of statistical careers and what statisticians have done to help solve problems with data.

The future of prediction


Some ideas to help students reach their statistics and statistical literacy learning goals:

Primary and Intermediate:


  • Fathom & iNZight: Technology for secondary statistics teaching.
  • Herald article: on careers in statistics.
  • A framework for thinking about informal statistical inference. (Makar, K. & Rubin, A., 2009) Professional reading:
  • Figure: Lillian Grace was the plenary speaker at both Canterbury and Auckland Statistics Teachers day. The Figure site allows everyone be an explorer and user of data. If you or your students want data to answer a burning question this is the place to contact.
  • 2015/16 Census: Have all your classes been involved? Experiencing the census at all levels of the curriculum is important for students to demonstrate that they are “managing variation” and are involved in every aspect of data collection and creation.
  • Statistical displays: What about  running a poster competition for Statistics week?!  Below are some examples from oversea’s, how can we improve on these?
  • Tour Aotearoa live! Robyn Headifen has suggested following the cycling so much much great data!

What other ideas do you have?

How are you linking with your colleagues in other subjects? How do they approach statistical literacy and use statistics in scientific (both social and the physical sciences) investigations?

Do you have an Investing in Educational Success IES project to share or would like to begin? Also let us know of any cool Stats Apps you’re using with your students.

Finally, a big thanks to teachers who are using the share resources function on CAS.

Nga mihi

The CensusAtSchool Team

Welcome back!

We hope you all had a great summer holiday and are looking forward to teaching lots of innovative, well-designed statistics lessons this year.

To help you out we start the year off with a great new data card resource for interactive and effective statistics lessons created by Anna Martin, and some helpful tips on describing Time series trends prepared by the Mathematics and Statistics Facilitators and the NZSA Education Committee.

Returning students may ask you to review their 2015 external exam scripts. Derek Smith has provided links to the level 1, level 2 and level 3 cut scores. Please use this information to inform students if they should proceed with the reconsideration process. Please use your professional judgement with the question totals and overall total (Grade Score marking used) in the November Externals, which is not the same as that used for the assessment of the e-Mcat/MCAT. The assessment conditions for the 2016 externals are also now available on the NZQA website. Level 1, Level 2, Level 3.

As you and your colleagues review and reflect on the 2015 year, we hope CensusAtSchool delivered useful content and information. CensusAtSchool aims to provide the most up to date, statistics teaching resources and information, in the news, by NZSA or other Statistical forums or on the internet. If you want a “heads up” on what to read, watch or do this year the best place to start is right here on CensusAtSchool.

If you ever think that our heads haven’t been up high enough and we seem to have missed something that’s coming soon, please let us know:

Please forward this email to any new colleagues who may not receive our weekly emails, these can help keep your colleagues up-to-date with the resources and information on CensusAtSchool.

Nga mihi

Rachel, Chris and Anne

Theme: Making connections

Date: Friday 27th November

Venue: Tamaki Campus, University of Auckland,

Plenary speaker: Lillian Grace, CEO and founder Figure.NZ

Registrations opened: Tuesday 27 October

Online registrations will close Monday 9 November 5pm.

Workshops will cover levels 4 to 8 of the NZ curriculum incorporating material suitable for years 7 to 13 (and including Scholarship at year 13)


Detailed information on workshops and registration can be found via links at

Making Connections
Where: University of Canterbury (Dovedale Campus)
When: Monday 23rd November 8:30 to 5pm
Plenary by Anna Martin (University of Auckland Department of Statistics)
Cost: $25 members, $50 non-members (will include 2015 membership)
 4 workshops are running throughout the day, with an Ignite! session at the end.
Registration and invoice links can be found here.
Kristian Giles
Secretary for the CMA

Today is World Statistics Day!

Watch students at Kapiti College show how they use the inquiry cycle to make conclusions from data.

Today organisations, teachers and students from all over the world will be celebrating the role that data plays in our lives now and in the future.

Statistics New Zealand have launched a Level 3 time series resource to showcase how they analyze data, this presentation was well received at NZAMT 2015.

Other World Statistics Day classroom activities include a movie showing students how they can contribute to a data-driven future, and a poster explaining how statistics around the world are use to make decisions. These could be a great way to generate discussion about how we use statistics in the world outside school.

Also Anna Martin has produced a very addictive game to celebrate World Statistics day, what does your data look like?