Data Analysis and Probability Standard


Facility in math is recognized by educators as being key to later success in life. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has set ten content standards for the teaching and learning of mathematics from prekindergarten through twelfth grade.

            The standards in this series refer to the entire range of grades. Examples, however, are for prekindergarten to second grade, which includes the grade I teach.

            The NCTM publication Principles and Standards for School Mathematics has complete explanations of these. For more information, you may visit NCTM at

            Bullet points are quotations from the publication. Underneath them are my suggestions for parents.


Math principles and standards, part 5

Data Analysis and Probability Standard

  The instructional programs should enable all students to:

  •  Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.

  • Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data.

  • Develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data.

  • Understand and apply basic concepts of probability.

            With most children, this is their first experience with seeing a graph, which takes information and organizes it visually. At school, we take many surveys and depict the responses of the kids: which color apple is their favorite, what their favorite animal is, how many children are in their family, how they got to school that day.

            The underlying idea is that they can get useful information from the graphs they create and find. This is a necessary skill that will be useful in later years as they try to analyze more complicated ways of collecting information.

            Itís the adults who can lead the children to understand that they can draw some conclusions from their studies in this area.

            The key vocabulary is the understanding of the concept of likelihood. If six red blocks and six blue blocks are put in a bag and you cannot see which one you are choosing, what is the likelihood that you would choose a blue one? What about choosing a red one? Now, change the contents by putting in eleven blue blocks and one red one. What is the likelihood now of choosing each color? Why has it changed?


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