NWEA Launches Competition to Raise Interest in Data Science

The competition aimed at high school students hopes to build awareness and career interest in the data science field.

Portland, Ore. — February 9, 2023 — NWEA — a not-for-profit, research and educational services organization serving K-12 students globally – announced today a new competition for high school students focused on data science. The NWEA Data Science for Everyone (DS4E) Competition seeks to encourage diverse students to become interested and involved in data science. Growing in diversity is a critical need as this field continues to be male-dominated (74% of data science professionals are male) workforce, with about only 4% of all data science professionals identifying as Black and 6% as Hispanic. 

Data science is anticipated to be one of the fastest-growing professions in the U.S. in the coming decade, and one of the more well-paid careers with median income currently ranging above $100,000 per year. The field utilizes data to build algorithm predictions and has vast applications across industries. 

“With the growth and prominence of data in the world, young people need opportunities to develop data literacy and engage with data in meaningful ways. By and large, they do not get these opportunities in K-12 schools,” said Erik Ruzek, senior research scientist at NWEA and one of organizers of the competitions. “The NWEA competition provides a unique and needed opportunity for students to learn about and work with real world data outside the school context. By reaching out to a broad network of people and organizations and offering college scholarships, we hope to engage a diverse group of high school students in this effort.”

In collaboration with the Data Science for Everyone coalition, the NWEA DS4E Competition provides participating teams of high school students with data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study, which is a study of 15-year-old students’ knowledge of mathematics, reading, and science. Participating students will be tasked with predicting mathematics assessment scores by building machine-learning models based on the demographic and psychological variables in the dataset. Throughout the competition, students will have opportunities to engage with research scientists at NWEA and learn about the data science field.

Two top teams will be selected, judged by the accuracy of their prediction model, and awarded a $1750 scholarship (to be divided among team members) that they can use for their future college or professional studies.

The competition begins on Feb. 27 and ends on April 28.  NWEA is currently recruiting high school teams to participate. Students or teachers interested in this competition should contact DS4E@nwea.org for “getting started” materials – including parental consent forms and rules. 

About NWEA

NWEA® (formerly known as Northwest Evaluation Association) is a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators in more than 146 countries through research, assessment solutions, policy and advocacy services, professional learning and school improvement services that fight for equity, drive classroom impact and push for systemic change in our educational communities. Visit NWEA.org to learn more about how we’re partnering with educators to help all kids learn.

Contact: Simona Beattie, Sr. Manager, Public Relations, simona.beattie@nwea.org or 971.361.9526