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Steep Declines In Data Science Skills Among Fourth- and Eighth-Graders Across America, Study Finds

Wednesday February 15, 2023. 03:02 AM , from Slashdot
A new report (PDF) from the Data Science 4 Everyone coalition reveals that data literacy skills among fourth and eighth-grade students have declined significantly over the last decade even as these skills have become increasingly essential in our modern, data-driven society. Phys.Org reports: Based on data from the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress results, the report uncovered several trends that raise concerns about whether the nation's educational system is sufficiently preparing young people for a world reshaped by the rise of big data and artificial intelligence. Key findings include:

- The pandemic decline is part of a much longer-term trend. Between 2019 and 2022, scores in the data analysis, statistics, and probability section of the NAEP math exam fell by 10 points for eighth-graders and by four points for fourth-graders. Declining scores are part of a longer-term trend, with scores down 17 points for eighth-graders and down 10 points for fourth-graders over the last decade. That means today's eighth-graders have the data literacy of sixth-graders from a decade ago, and today's fourth-graders have the data literacy of third-graders from a decade ago.

- There are large racial gaps in scores. These gaps exist across all grade levels but are at times most dramatic in the middle and high school levels. For instance, fourth-grade Black students scored 28 points lower -- the equivalent of nearly three grade levels -- than their white peers in data analysis, statistics, and probability.

- Data-related instruction is in decline. Every state except Alabama reported a decline or stagnant trend in data-related instruction, with some states -- like Maryland and Iowa -- seeing double-digit drops. The national share of fourth-grade math teachers reporting 'moderate' or 'heavy' emphasis on data analysis dropped five percentage points between 2019 and 2022.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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