NISS Statistically Accurate Interactive Displays ... in Graphics!

Registration due March 30, 2022 & Entries due April 19, 2022 by Noon ET

Visualization Competition for Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Do you love to make insightful discoveries in education data and cutting-edge visualizations to display them? Then NISS has a NEW competition for you!

Great examples of data visualization and interactive graphics are popping up everywhere!   See the examples collected at these sites:

The National Institute of Statistical Science is sponsoring a student data visualization contest - for creating examples of how interactive data visualization techniques can be applied to enhance the data presentations in several public reports about education. Simply put, NISS is looking for Statistically Accurate Interactive Display in Graphics -- SAID in Graphics!

Choose an interesting question related to one of the data sets below.  Your mission is to design an innovative visualization that attracts the reader to explore the data more deeply - and helps them to do so!

Registration ended March 30

Individual Registration      ---      Team Registration

Entries due by April 19, Noon ET

The Data

The data for the contest is from the Digest of Education Statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics  ( 

There are five choices of data to select for the contest that present different types of data (including geographic and longitudinal) with different types of variables.  (Click on the '+' signs on the NCES website above to open or use the links below):

Table 104.85  - Rates of high school completion and bachelor's degree attainment among persons age 25 and over, by race/ethnicity and state: 2019

Table 222.12 - Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics scale score and percentage of students attaining NAEP mathematics achievement levels, by selected school and student characteristics and grade: Selected years, 1990 through 2019

Table 221.60 - Average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading scale score of 8th-grade public school students, by state: Selected years, 1998 through 2019

Table 502.20 - Median annual earnings, number, and percentage of full-time year-round workers age 25 and over, by highest level of educational attainment and sex: Selected years, 1990 through 2019

Table 603.10 and 603.20  - Percentage of the population 25 to 64 years old who completed high school, by age group and country: Selected years, 2000 through 2019  -and-  Percentage of the population 25 to 64 years old who attained any postsecondary degree, by age group and country: Selected years, 2000 through 2019

The direct links above were current as of the start of the contest - the links from the "Most Current Digest Tables" page may update during the contest.  It is ok to use either.

Each of the data sets suggests a number of questions or focusses, and between them they have a variety of different data types.


The competition is open to graduate and undergraduate students at a US or Canadian institution of higher education.  Entries may either be for a team of up to five students or as an individual.  A team may submit up to two graphics for the same or different data sets.  An individual may submit only one graphic. 

Please Note:  

  • Each student can participate only once, either as a member of one team or as an individual.
  • Students must be enrolled in an institution of higher education in the US or Canada on or after January 31, 2022.
  • A student is ineligible to participate if currently employed or has an agreement for future employment – either paid or unpaid (including internships) – with a software producer  that creates graphics software whether proprietary or open source. (If you have questions on your particular internship or employment, please contact
  • Those who have already completed a doctoral degree are unable to enter, even if enrolled in another program.

The Requirements

The goal is to demonstrate how interactive visualization can be used to prod readers of various backgrounds to investigate substantive educational questions more deeply.  

  • The interactive graphic must be designed to communicate with the public by grabbing the readers’ attention, enticing them to interact with the data, and leading them to more deeply investigate the substantive questions addressed by the data.  The target audience of the graphics include parents, educators, policy makers, and researchers. The graphic should avoid being standard, static, or boring.
  • The innovative graphic must use one of the data sets listed above.
  • The graphic must include either geographic information or information over time (or both).
  • The graphic must include presentation of the errors (either in the main graphic, in a side graphic, or in attached tables).
  • The submission must include:
  • Registration at is due by 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 using the on-line registration form (links below).  You will receive a link with access to a Dropbox to submit your entry.
  • A team may submit no more than 2 graphics.  An individual may submit only 1 graphic.
  • All materials submitted become the property of NISS.
  • All materials must be uploaded to our Drop Box by Noon ET on Tuesday, April 19th.


Software selected must be available either as open source or as a proprietary package available for purchase. The final product must be a URL to view the graphic (such as to an R shiny or hosted Tableau), or a folder containing a .html file and all necessary files to view the graphic without requiring any specialized software for the viewer.

Need a kickstart on a few of the software choices?  Here’s one place to start for R ( and one for tableau ( (Please note: These sites are not associated with NISS).


Judging will be done by NISS staff and graphics experts; their decisions will be final. Judging will be based on:

  • The graphic’s entry point’s ability to attract viewers to interact.
  • Substantive relevance of graphic to educational questions of interest. 
  • Statistical accuracy conveyed and completeness of graphic, including representation of uncertainty.
  • Feasibility of implementation and usefulness as template or prototype for other reports.

The Prizes

The prize for the overall winning entry will be $1000. There also be two runner-up prizes of $500 each: one for the entry with the best “entry point”, demonstrating how an initially static visualization can draw in viewers to interactively explore additional questions, and one for the entry that best demonstrates how the flexibility of being interactive can assist in understanding and interpreting and understanding uncertainty in the data.

At NISS discretion, additional prizes may be awarded following judging. All prizes are awarded to the winners' departments.

Winners will also be invited to be part of a NISS presentation on statistical graphics for researchers in other disciplines!  


Please direct all questions to Brian Habing ( He is also available for video conference consultations.

For more thoughts on interactive graphics, see the report from the NISS expert panel on Innovative Graphics for NCES Online Reports.

Also, see the news coverage from the 2020-2021 SAID in Graphics Data Visualization Contest!

Register by March 30, 11:59 PM ET

Individual Registration      ---      Team Registration

Entries due by April 19, Noon ET

Event Type


National Institute of Statistical Sciences




Statistically Accurate Interactive Display ... in Graphics!