The Development of Statistical Literacy at School

Rosemary Callingham and Jane M. Watson

Statistical literacy increasingly is considered an important outcome of schooling.
There is little information, however, about appropriate expectations of students at
different stages of schooling. Some progress towards this goal was made by Watson
and Callingham (2005), who identified an empirical 6-level hierarchy of statistical
literacy and the distribution of middle school students across the levels, using
archived data from 1993-2000. There is interest in reconsidering these outcomes a
decade later, during which statistics and probability has become a recognised strand
of the Australian mathematics curriculum. Using a new data-set of over 7000 student
responses from middle-years students in different parts of Australia during the period
2007-2009, the nature of the hierarchy was confirmed. Longitudinal analysis
identified how students performed across time against the hierarchy. Suggestions are
made for systems and teachers about realistic expectations for middle-years students,
and possible curriculum challenges.