Updated: Jan 4, 2020
This blog post is written by Anthony Marble, an AP Statistics teacher at Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Washington.
Bellevue High School is a public high school with about 1500 students and demographics as follows: 48% White, 33% Asian, 11% Multiracial, 6% Hispanic and 2% Black. Last year was my 12th year teaching AP Statistics and I have been an AP Exam Reader for 5 years. This past year I had my largest ever group of AP Stats students at 144, which was good reason for me to make some changes in my instruction.
Why Did I Decide To Make A Change?
When I began teaching AP Statistics in 2007, my instructional practices were very traditional: teacher-centered lecture with students taking their own notes following by assigning practice problems and textbook reading each night for homework. I ran into several issues. Many students were having difficulty completing both the practice problems as well as the reading each night and were also communicating to me they were having difficulty keeping up with the notes since they were just “writing down everything” I wrote on the whiteboard. I realized I had to change my instructional practices to implement the necessary reading into my daily classroom notes so then students only had to focus on doing the practice problems at home. I found an AP Statistics teacher that had created a set of scaffolded daily notes that imbedded reading the textbook. This solved the issues that I had noticed from my previous instruction strategies. But, even after using these scaffolded daily notes for several years, I still felt like that there was not enough student discourse going on within the daily lessons. Also, I was skeptical of how much students were really learning and understanding since they were still primarily taking notes on examples and not really experiencing and/or discovering these statistical concepts but just regurgitating the processes from the examples in the notes. Thus, I was looking for a set of daily notes that incorporated daily activities in those lessons and allowed for more student discourse.
What Did I Do?
At Best Practices Night of the 2018 AP Exam Reading, Luke presented the freshly developed resources available at Stats Medic. I knew immediately this is exactly what I was looking for. During that summer, I looked extensively through the website to see all that it offered. I chose to implement the daily Experience First, Formalize Later (EFFL) lessons, the corresponding practice problems from the 6th edition of The Practice of Statistics that matched those daily lessons, as well as the Stats Medic AP Exam Review Course that Lindsey and Luke had created. Essentially, I decided to go “All In” with Stats Medic.
The average AP Exam score increased from 2.60 in 2018 to 3.04 in 2019. The percent of students earning a passing score on the exam went from 56.7% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2019, an increase of almost 10%!
Do I get bonus points here for appropriately using a mosaic plot?
How Did This Happen?
I believe that much of the increase in pass rates and mean test scores my students demonstrated from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to the full implementation of the EFFL lessons, corresponding practice problems, as well as the Stats Medic AP Exam Review Course. In my year-end survey I have my AP Statistics students complete, there were 3 things that stood out to me in their responses as it pertains to their student learning:
1. Students enjoyed that most daily lessons included activities that demonstrated statistical concepts. This really helped them understand those statistical concepts and how they tied to the corresponding statistical formulas. This played out in that the average chapter test scores increased by 3% last year versus the previous year when I did not use Stats Medic.
2. Students felt like skipping the reading from the textbook did not inhibit their learning of the statistical concepts. The EFFL lessons always wrapped up with tying the statistical concepts to the corresponding statistical formulas and they felt like that was sufficient enough for their learning. This was very heartening for me to hear since I was concerned that student learning might be negatively impacted if students were not first doing direct reading from the textbook.
3. Most of all, students absolutely loved the Stats Medic AP Exam Review Course. First. they really liked how structured it was, but at the same time allowed for students to be free to go at their own pace. This allowed me to be free to go around the classroom and answer individual questions that students had during the 4 weeks of review. Second, the videos were invaluable as they concentrated on the major statistical concepts as well as included AP Exam Tips for students to write down in their scaffolded notes. Students could also re-watch videos on statistical concepts they struggled with or felt like they needed to revisit to cement their learning. Third, they loved that the multiple choice questions included reasoning on the correct answer so they could get instant feedback. Last of all, they really liked the AP Practice Exam because it allowed them an idea of where their level of student learning was going into the actual AP Exam and helped them highlight the concepts they needed to revisit in the last few days before they took the exam.