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September 2012


Washington Statistical Society 2011-12 Annual Report

The 2011-12 program year for the Washington Statistical Society produced a number of good seminars and other activities. Some of the highlights were:


  • The WSS membership is approximately 950 members strong.
a WSS seminar

Seminars and Conferences

  • There were 19 technical sessions schedule and most of them were videocast to remote sites. Many of the slides from the sessions were uploaded on the WSS website.
  • WSS and the Inter-agency Committee on Confidentiality and Data Access (CDAC) sponsored a successful one-day seminar on confidentiality in the federal context. The seminar had approximately 80 attendees.
  • A special President's Invited Panel was held in May. Kathy Wallman, Chief Statistician of the United State from the Office of Management and Budget was the guest speaker.
  • Along with DC-AAPOR, WSS co-sponsored a successful Summer Conference Preview/Review which brought a sample of talks from the 2012 AAPOR and JSM on June 21-22, 2012. This conference was particularly valuable since many local area statisticians have not been able to attend these conferences due to budgetary constraints.


  • The Morris Hansen Lecture series was set up to honor Morris Hansen, whose pioneering contributions to survey sampling and related statistical methods during his long and distinguished career at the Census Bureau and at Westat established many standards and methods, mostly still in use, for the conduct of surveys. The Hansen Lecture series seeks to achieve balance between theory, applications, and policy; and to highlight the diversity of disciplines that inform survey practice. The 2011 Morris Hansen Memorial Lecture was held at the Jefferson Auditorium of the Department of Agriculture and featured Bob Groves and Rod Little from the U.S. Census Bureau. The discussant was Natalie Shlomo, Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute University of Southampton, United Kingdom. This lecture was made possible by the co-sponsorship of Westat, the National Agricultural Statistics Service and WSS.
  • The 2011 Roger Herriot Award, co-sponsored by WSS, and the Government and Social Statistics sections of the American Statistical Association (ASA) was presented to Mike Messner from the Environmental Protection Agency at the 2011 Joint Statistical Meetings in Miami.
  • The WSS Board voted to contribute towards the Jeanne Griffith Mentoring Award which was established in the memory of Jeanne Griffith who died in August 2001 after working for more than 25 years in the Federal statistical system. The award was established to encourage the mentoring of younger staff in the Federal statistical system.
  • The 2012 Gertrude Cox Award was presented to Amy Herring. Before the annual dinner she presented on, "Beyond Age at First Sex: Modeling Patterns of Emerging Sexual Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults." The Gertrude Cox Award is made possible by funding from RTI International.
  • The WSS President's Award was presented at the annual dinner to Joe Conklin in appreciation of the thorough update and expansion of the WSS historical document.
  • WSS presented awards at the annual dinner to five outstanding graduate students attending area universities.
  • The 2012 Julius Shiskin Award winner, presented at the annual dinner was William D. Nordhaus, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale University. This award recognizes unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics interpreting the economy.

Quantitative Literacy

  • Thanks to the persistence and hard work by the respective committee chairs, WSS received a noteworthy set of entries for the Curtis Jacobs Award, the Poster Competition and the Science Fair Competition.


  • This year's holiday part was held at the Chevy Chase Clyde on December 14th, 2011. Attendance was good.
  • The 2011-12 annual dinner was held at Fogo de Chao, Washington DC on June 5th, 2012.


  • The WSS co-sponsored a panel with the U.S. Department of Energy University, the District of Columbia Department of Mathematics, Georgetown University Career Education Center, the American Statistical Association and the Council on Women and Girls STEM Mentoring Program called What can I do with a degree in mathematics, statistics or physics and related fields?
  • A revised WSS Officers' and Committee Chairpersons' handbook was uploaded on the web on March 2012. The handbook provides information on the duties and activities of each officer and committee.
  • A revised document on the History of WSS was uploaded on the WSS website in May 2012.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of WSS this year. The WSS Board, including the officers, program chairs, and committee chairs and members worked very hard to establish a vital WSS presence. Special thanks are due to volunteers such as the technical session chairs, organizers, speakers and discussants, as well as judges for the quantitative literacy awards, for it is the generous donation of their time and effort that led to a successful year.

Challenges continue to abound. The quantitative literacy program is always looking for volunteers to donate even a few hours during the year. It has been increasingly difficult to recruit seminar speakers. Correspondingly, perhaps due to the ability to view seminars from remote locations, onsite attendance has been diminishing. Our task remains to be relevant to WSS membership and the greater Washington DC area statistical community.

And finally, I would like to thank Mike Brick (Past President, 2010-11) and Keith Rust (President-Elect, 2012-13) for their invaluable support and perspective over the course of the past year. I would also like to thank the board members for their unflagging and cheerful help both during and between board meetings. It has been an amazing opportunity to meet so many dedicated statisticians and I am grateful for the privilege of having served you.

Jonaki Bose, Past President (2011-2012)

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Conferences and Symposiums
AIR Psychometrician Group Meeting

Setting Performance Standards: Foundations, Features, and the Future
September 6, 2012 / 12 noon - 1:30 p.m.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR)
1000 Thomas Jefferson ST NW, Washington, DC 20007 Conference Room 4117/4118

RSVP by September 4, 2012 to Tiffany Decker (tdecker@air.org)

Presenter: Gregory J. Cizek, University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill

Description: This presentation will provide an introduction to the theory and practice of setting performance standards on achievement tests such as those typically administered to make categorical decisions in education and credentialing. The theoretical foundations touching on the nature of standard setting and its location in psychometrics will be described; the relevant professional standards applicable to setting performance standards will be presented; and the common elements in commonly- used contemporary standard setting methods will be reviewed. The presentation will conclude with a critical appraisal of what the future of setting performance standards is likely to hold.

Point of Contact: Werner Wothke (wwothke@air.org), Cadelle Hemphill (chemphill@air.org)

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Note From The WSS NEWS Editor

Items for publication in the October 2012 issue of the WSS NEWS will be accepted until the 15th day of the preceding month.

Email items to wss.editor@gmail.com.

Please submit all materials in MS WORD or plain text.

Please do not submit your items in pdf or include them in the body of an email.

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Click here to see the WSS Board Listing (pdf)
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