The Lisbon European Council of 2000 placed the development of a knowledge-based society at the top of the Union's policy agenda. The development of a statistically literate society is a key factor in achieving the objective of an educated citizenry. In a world where the ability to analyze, interpret and communicate information from data are skills needed for daily life and effective citizenship, statistical concepts will occupy an increasingly important role in mathematics curricula. Leaders in statistics education emphasize the need for active learning strategies, collaborative projects, use of real data, computer simulations and visualizations to permeate statistics instruction, in order to build students' conceptual understanding of statistical concepts.
During this Project we developed an innovative professional development program for the teaching and learning of statistical reasoning at the Elementary and Middle School levels. EarlyStatistics addresses the high interest in statistics and the need for further supporting the development of students' statistical reasoning in mathematics classrooms. It enhances the quality of statistics education offered in European schools by facilitating intercultural collaboration of teachers using contemporary technological and educational tools and exemplary web-based materials and resources. Acknowledging the fact that teachers are at the heart of any educational reform, we utilized distance education to offer high-quality innovative experiences to geographically-dispersed teachers across Europe. We offered the opportunity to teachers in different countries to collaborate and to build communities of practice in social constructivist learning environments. Long-term sustainability will be assured through support of multilingual interfaces and online services for the accumulation of collective knowledge from teachers and teacher educators. An online Knowledge Base offers access to usable and validated pedagogical models, didactic approaches, and innovative instructional materials for the teaching and learning of statistics, resulting in a complete and flexible teacher professional development program. The program will be of use not only to the teachers participating in the course, but also for independent study, and to teacher training institutions around Europe as an elicitation device for promoting teacher learning, giving teachers a view into the landscape of practice in statistics instruction throughout Europe that would otherwise be very difficult to observe.