Language helps us discuss and interpret data, as well as help use argument in research. On this page, you will find a variety of terms and definitions that reflect data literacy and research terminology. We hope you find this useful. To view the terms and their definitions, you can either scroll the page, or click on a letter below to jump to the terms that correspond with the letter that you click. At the end of each section, you will find a “Back to Top“ link.
- Common Core State English Language Arts Standards
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (“the Standards”) are the culmination of an extended, broad-based effort to fulfill the charge issued by the states to create the next generation of K–12 standards in order to help ensure that all students are college and career ready in literacy no later than the end of high school.
The present work, led by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association (NGA), builds on the foundation laid by states in their decades-long work on crafting high-quality education standards. The Standards also draw on the most important international models as well as research and input from numerous sources, including state departments of education, scholars, assessment developers, professional organizations, educators from kindergarten through college, and parents, students, and other members of the public. In their design and content, refined through successive drafts and numerous rounds of feedback, the Standards represent a synthesis of the best elements of standards-related work to date and an important advance over that previous work.
As specified by CCSSO and NGA, the Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked. A particular standard was included in the document only when the best available evidence indicated that its mastery was essential for college and career readiness in a twenty-first-century, globally competitive society. The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised accordingly.
The Standards are an extension of a prior initiative led by CCSSO and NGA to develop College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language as well as in mathematics. The CCR Reading, Writing, and Speaking and Listening Standards, released in draft form in September 2009, serve, in revised form, as the backbone for the present document. Grade-specific K–12 standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language translate the broad (and, for the earliest grades, seemingly distant) aims of the CCR standards into age- and attainment-appropriate terms.
The Standards set requirements not only for English language arts (ELA) but also for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Just as students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas, so too must the Standards specify the literacy skills and understandings required for college and career readiness in multiple disciplines. Literacy standards for grade 6 and above are predicated on teachers of ELA, history/social studies, science, and technical subjects using their content area expertise to help students meet the particular challenges of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in their respective fields. It is important to note that the 6–12 literacy standards in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects are not meant to replace content standards in those areas but rather to supplement them. States may incorporate these standards into their standards for those subjects or adopt them as content area literacy standards.
As a natural outgrowth of meeting the charge to define college and career readiness, the Standards also lay out a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the twenty-first century. Indeed, the skills and understandings students are expected to demonstrate have wide applicability outside the classroom or workplace. Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. In short, students who meet the Standards develop the skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening that are the foundation for any creative and purposeful expression in language.
- Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
These Standards define what students should understand and be able to do in their study of mathematics. Asking a student to understand something means asking a teacher to assess whether the student has understood it. But what does mathematical understanding look like? One hallmark of mathematical understanding is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity, why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule comes from. There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y). Mathematical understanding and procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical tasks of sufficient richness.
The Standards set grade-specific standards but do not define the intervention methods or materials necessary to support students who are well below or well above grade-level expectations. It is also beyond the scope of the Standards to define the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners and for students with special needs. At the same time, all students must have the opportunity to learn and meet the same high standards if they are to access the knowledge and skills necessary in their post-school lives. The Standards should be read as allowing for the widest possible range of students to participate fully from the outset, along with appropriate accommodations to ensure maximum participaton of students with special education needs. For example, for students with disabilities reading should allow for use of Braille, screen reader technology, or other assistive devices, while writing should include the use of a scribe, computer, or speech-to-text technology. In a similar vein, speaking and listening should be interpreted broadly to include sign language. No set of grade-specific standards can fully reflect the great variety in abilities, needs, learning rates, and achievement levels of students in any given classroom. However, the Standards do provide clear signposts along the way to the goal of college and career readiness for all students.
Common usage: A mistake
Statistical usage: an error (or residual) is not a "mistake" but rather a difference between a computed, estimated, or measured value and the accepted true, specified, or theoretically correct value.
Fleshing it out: In nearly every collection of data, there is variability. We are interested in identifying the sources of that variability. When we are focusing our attention on a single source, that source is called systematic variance -- the source of variability that is under investigation. All other sources of variability are lumped into one indefinite mass called error variance. Error variance has little to do with "error" although variability due to errors can be part of the error variance; it really refers to whatever sources of variability on which we are not focusing our attention.
An 'error' is a deviation from accuracy or correctness. A 'mistake' is an error caused by a fault: the fault being misjudgment, carelessness, or forgetfulness. Now, say that I run a stop sign because I was in a hurry, and wasn't concentrating, and the police stop me, that is a mistake. If, however, I try to park in an area with conflicting signs, and I get a ticket because I was incorrect on my interpretation of what the signs meant, that would be an error. The first time it would be an error. The second time it would be a mistake since I should have known better. From: http://bcs.siuc.edu/facultypages/young/ResMethodsStuff/varianceStuff.html
Other words that may come up (see also illustration):
Common usage: Doubt.
Statistical usage: The estimated amount or percentage by which an observed or calculated value may differ from the true value. Note that this is something you can calculate from the data – a measurement. Error is a collective term for differences from what was expected; uncertainty is a certain calculation that describes the size of the errors.
- Systematic error also called “bias” which always occurs (with the same value) when we measure in the same way. For example, if you measured the height of girls in the class, using the same tape measure every time, and every girl was wearing 2” heels, then the measurements would be biased – every girl’s height would be higher than the ‘true’ value.
- Random error – (also called “random variation”) is due to factors which we cannot (or do not) control. It may be too expensive or we may be too ignorant of these factors to control them each time we measure; or perhaps whatever we are trying to measure is changing in time. Random error often occurs when instruments are pushed to their limits. For example, it is common for digital balances to exhibit random error in their least significant digit. Three measurements of a single object might read something like 0.9111g, 0.9110g, and 0.9112g.
Words and concepts that work:
- Try specifically labeling each type of error in your dataset and discussion with students, instead of lumping everything into a category called “error”: is it random error, measurement error, sampling error, or accidental?
- Scale of the errors: encourage a discussion about which errors matter as you work toward answering a specific question with the data. If the third place after the decimal point on a balance is different each time the same item is weighed, it might be attributed to random error. Does that thousandths of a gram decimal place matter if you are comparing weights of potato chips?
Related probes & activities: Potato chip activity, Part B
- Next Generation Science Standards
Through a collaborative, state-led process managed by Achieve, new K–12 science standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The NGSS is based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.