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Speakers explain real life statistics to Hamilton students

Hamilton High School students in Penny Komatz’s statistics class learned about the importance data plays in guiding institutions to make policy decisions, how it can be collected and the difficulty involved with ensuring it is reliable. Komatz invited three guest speakers to present real life experiences involving statistics to her class.

Hamilton School District Superintendent spoke Sept. 4 about the use of data in district decisionmaking including developing a Strategic Plan, expanding programs and hiring staff. She described how federal legislation known as “No Child Left Behind” will require school districts to collect more standardized test data. She also explained various ways the district collects data including test scores, focus groups and several types of surveys.

The district’s public information and volunteer program coordinator, Denise Dorn Lindberg, spoke on Sept. 29 about the logistics of conducting surveys with students, parents and community members. She specifically addressed the way the district ensures a stratified random sample in its community telephone survey and the potential obstacle greater use of cell phones and unlisted phone numbers could present in obtaining samples in the future. She also discussed how data helped committee members decide items to include in a recent referendum.

Tom Erickson, a business development and information technology consultant from Klein Internet Marketing Group, spoke Oct. 7 to the class about market segmentation and how companies are able to cluster people based on such factors such as geodemographics, collect individual data without people knowing it and gather data in a scientific manner. Erickson also described how Keith Klein & Associates, Inc. uses the internet to market services and collect data. He showed students how graphic displays can mislead, provided information about response rates and explained how the success of various marketing strategies are reported.