There are two main types of software one might consider. There is
software of the sort commonly used in college courses where
learning a package that can be used in subsequent courses and
in research is a goal (and often an item in the course catalog
description). There is also software that is intended to enhance the
learning of statistics. Ideally, a first course would give
students experience with at least one of the usual tools of the trade *and*
use the best tools available to enhance student learning. However,
budget constraints do not always allow us to purchase every software
package we might like.

Some of these can be used to varying degrees for instructional purposes as well. Prices are hard to quote here as many vendors do not want commercial clients to see the huge discounts they give to academia;-) Also, the best price is often some kind of site license whose price will depend on many variables.

Reasonably easy to use. This is an older Mac program ported to the PC so old-time Mac users find it quite comfortable while Windows users find it puzzling at times. For classroom use teachers usually use the student version that comes bundled with ActivStats (see below) and can also be ordered bundled with the Bock-Velleman-De Veaux AP Stats. text. This bundle of one textbook, one piece of professional statistical software, and one piece of educational software is a real bargain.

Easy to use. This is much more visual and interactive than Minitab.
Starting in
about 2007 JMP became *much* more interested in the academic
market and
has offered some real bargains in site licenses.

Easy to use. Minintab started life as a classroom adaptation of a
number
crunching program developed at the National Bureau of Standards.
Minitab led the proliferation of computer use in the statistics
classroom and it incorporates
a number of features to enhance instruction and has a long history of
instructional
resources of which *The Minitab Handbook* is perhaps the best. In
recent
years Minitab has turned more toward the market in industry and you
have to work
a lot harder than you used to in order to find academic discounts and
other deals.
A student version exists disguised as a book by John McKenzie and
Robert Goldman.

This is a programming language for advanced statistics and as such is not particularly easy to use. Teachers usually ask about it because they have heard that it is free. That is true, but not the only factor to be considered. One use is for use by individual students who are programmers or planning careers where high powered statistics is required. There are also graphical user interfaces to R that make it a bit more friendly. One is called R Commander.

This is a programming language for advanced statistics and as such is not particularly easy to use. Not many AP teachers use this package and the vendor has not shown much interest in the high school market. It is listed here mainly because many teachers have heard of it. Unless you are already and expert with it and have found a way to get it into your high school, it is probably not a first choice.

Reasonably easy to use. Not many AP teachers use this package and the vendor has not shown much interest in the high school market. It is listed here mainly because many teachers have heard of it. Unless you are already and expert with it and have found a way to get it into your high school, it is probably not a first choice.

Generally these do *not* do enough statistics to support
further courses or research.

Easy to use. In fact, there is nothing to learn. Pop the
CD into your computer and it teaches you everything you need to know,

including Data Desk.
ActivStats is a multimedia tutorial for the entire AP course.
Some teachers

use it as an overview before a lesson while others use it for
review. There may even

be students who use this rather than read their text!-) As a
stand-alone it is about $70 in

quantities of one but it also can be ordered bundled with the popular
Bock-Velleman-De Veaux

AP Stats. text for a nominal fee. Includes Data Desk (see
above). This bundle of one textbook, one piece of professional
statistical
software, and one piece of educational software is a real
bargain. (You just have to plan ahead!-)

Easy to use. Fathom describes itself as software for learning mathematics so it covers more of
the high school curriculum than most of the software listed here.
In statistics it is especially strong with simulations. The style
is visual and interactive. You and your students will have to learn to use it and
you will need more than the documentation that comes with the
software. Many teachers like Fifty
Fathoms. Compared to ActivStats, Fathom does not try to
cover the entire course but rather support specific learning activities
and demonstrations. Its advantage over ActivStats is that you can
create demos or activities for your students or students can create
their own simulations whereas ActivStats provides them ready-made but
neither you
nor your students can easily modify them nor make new ones.

Excel is a step *down* from graphing calculators for doing
statistics (though it can handle larger datasets more easily). There is
not much reason to use it in AP Statistics unless your school has some
broader commitment to Microsoft.

Because graphing calculators are required on the AP exam, most classes will teach students how to use these. You could think of these as either Fathom Lite or Minitab Lite in that they crunch enough numbers for AP Statistics but little beyond that, and were originally designed for teaching statistics. However, they lack the statistical power of Minitab and the visual, dynamic interface of Fathom.