Teachers’ professional statistical literacy

Principals and teachers are now expected to make data driven decisions regarding planning and practice. This project is examining principals’ and teachers’ attitudes to, and perceptions of, statistical reports as well as their skills in interpreting such quantitative information. Surveys and focus groups have been used to collect data from 900 respondents.

Research issues

  • What statistical literacy is required for using assessment data for school improvement?
  • What are the current patterns of use by principals and teachers for data distributed to schools?
  • What expertise or deficits in statistical literacy are evident in school principals and teachers?
  • What are the enablers or barriers (beliefs, attitudes, perceived subjective norms, and perceived behavioural controls) encouraging or hindering principals’ and teachers’ use of statistical data?


  • The Attitudes and Statistical Literacy Instrument (ASLI), for identifying factors affecting school principals’ and teachers’ attitudes towards quantitative data, and their ability to correctly interpret statistical reports.
  • A professional learning program, available face-to-face or online, to promote statistical literacy for principals and teachers
  • Advice to the VCAA and DEECD for improving data presentation, reports, and support programs for principals and teachers


Associate Professor Robyn Pierce
The University of Melbourne
03 8344 8519

Ms Sue Helme
The University of Melbourne
03 8344 8241

Associate Professor Helen Chick
University of Tasmania

Mr Michael Dalton

Ms Sue Buckley

Professor Ian Gordon
The University of Melbourne
03 8344 7993

Mr Roger Wander
The University of Melbourne
03 8344 8538

Professor Emeritus Jane Watson
University of Tasmania

Dr Magda Les


Pierce, R. & Chick, H. (2011). Teachers’ intentions to use national literacy and numeracy assessment data: A pilot study. Australian Education Researcher 38 433-447.

Pierce, R. & Chick, H. (2012). Workplace statistical literacy for teachers: interpreting box plots. Mathematics Education Research Journal. Online first DOI 10.1007/s13394-012-0046-3.

Pierce, R. & Chick, H. (2011). Reacting to quantitative data: Teachers’ perceptions of student achievement reports. Clark, J., Kissane, B., Mousley, J., Spencer, T. And Thornton, S. (Eds.) Mathematics: Traditions and [New] Practices, (Proceedings of the 34th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia) pp. 631-639 Adelaide: AAMT and MERGA.

Pierce, R., Chick, H, Watson, J., Dalton, M. & Les, M. (2012). Trialling a professional statistical literacy hierarchy for teachers. In J.Dindyal, L. P. Cheng and S.F. Ng (Eds). Mathematics education: Expanding horizons. (Proceedings of the 35th annual conference of the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia) pp 602-609. Adelaide: MERGA Inc.

Pierce, R. & Chick, H. (2012). Improving teachers’ statistical literacy. The 8th Australian Conference on Teaching Statistics OZCOTS 2012. To be available from: http://www.stat.auckland.ac.nz/~iase/publications.php