Show me the data

Show me the data

Last time, I shared my thoughts on the recent coverage of AP CS statistics. Compiled and presented by Barbara Ericson and later reported on all over the place.

To summarize my point of view - yes there is a problem but some of the highlighted data points can easily be shown to be irrelevant and therefore can hurt the greater goal of access to great CS education for all.

This felt like the launching pad for a great class discussion.

I presented this to my classes last week:

and asked "what do you make of this?" I was curious what the classes would say - they know I'm concerned with gender equity and know that at Stuy we've done better than most.

I can say that I was very happy with their answers.

We got things like:

How many took the test?

What states? How many African-Americans in ....


can we see the numbers?

So, we started talking about the actual numbers. It's amazing when you actually look at the facts, truths come out.

I was extremely pleased that my students saw right past the spin and searched for the actual numbers.

In my last post I explained why the stated claims - no girls in three states, no blacks / Hispanics on 11 were horrible examples. Why focus on these when it's so easy to find better examples:

The overall 20% female test takers is an easy stat to point to, but why point out Alaska's lack of African-American test takers when it's statistically irrelevant. Why not point out that in NY, only 68 African-American test takers and 150 Hispanic (out of 1858 test). Given that NY is about 16% black ad 17% Hispanic, we would have expected around 300 from each group.

In any event, I'm delighted that my students are perceptive enough to see past headlines, dig down to data, and make their own conclusions.


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