Lighthouse Initiative for Texas Classrooms

AP* Statistics: Providing Students Another Opportunity for Excellence

Since its inception in 1997, the Advanced Placement Program (AP)* in statistics has set records for growth in the number of exams taken in a new AP subject. From elementary school through middle school, the mathematics curriculum framework in the state of Texas, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS, emphasizes concepts about chance, data collection, and data exploration that are critical for developing the prerequisite skills for AP Statistics. Traditionally, the secondary school mathematics curriculum has been designed to prepare students for success in calculus. Now, the mathematics curriculum must prepare students for success in both calculus and statistics. The new state requirement of four years of high school mathematics offers an opportunity for AP Statistics to grow even more. Students may use AP Statistics to satisfy their fourth year of mathematics requirements. While some students may choose to take either AP Calculus or AP Statistics, ideally, students will take both, creating graduates with an extensive and integrated understanding of mathematics.

The explosion in the use of statistics in the last 50 years must strike anyone who reads the newspaper, listens to the radio, watches television, or checks out the World Wide Web. For some time, knowledge of statistics has been important for decision-makers and scientists. Surveys of public opinion (such as the Gallup political polls), of behavior (such as the Nielsen ratings of television viewing), of labor force characteristics (such as the Current Population Survey) increasingly help determine government policy and the choices available to consumers. Further, much recent progress in fields such as medicine, engineering, the life and physical sciences, and the social sciences can be attributed to the use of statistics.

Statistics, the science of data, is integral to the methodology of a wide variety of disciplines, many of which extend far beyond the “calculus-based” sciences. For example, it is an essential tool in all of the behavioral, biological, and social sciences. Students of biology, business, engineering, psychology, and many other disciplines will inevitably encounter statistics in their college studies. Introductory courses in statistics are taught as part of the undergraduate curriculum in many of these fields, as well as in mathematics. In fact, some postsecondary institutions see statistics as so essential to the quantitative reasoning skills of all graduates that statistics courses have become part of the required general education program. A recent survey indicated that introductory statistics enrollments in statistics or mathematics departments numbered about 240,000 in fall 2000, up about 16 percent from fall 1995. Some speculate that this number would double if statistics enrollments in all departments were counted.

Throughout this site, you will find examples showing how one can take the ideas and concepts of the AP Statistics program and integrate them into the TEKS for mathematics. By doing so, schools will be able to provide their students with another opportunity to access higher level mathematics and thus be better prepared for college and/or life experiences.

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