Friday, November 20, 2009

South Carolina: Environment-Based Education Improves Adolescents' Classroom Behavior

In a 2005 study of ten South Carolina middle schools that use the environment as an integrating context, academic progress was observed. For example, one school that offers academic incentive cards noted that 64 percent of its seventh-grade EIC students achieved the 3.0 GPA. The previous year, only 28 percent of the same students as sixth graders—who were not EIC participants then—reached the same level.

On the subject of adolescent behavior the study found:

"The following are the first-year results for seven of South Carolina’s EIC programs:

At school A, EIC students decreased their absenteeism by 22 percent and their suspensions by 36 percent from the previous year. All these students were academically low performing, and many of them had serious past behavioral issues.

At school B, EIC students had half the amount of discipline referrals that the non-EIC students had. Interviews showed that EIC students had an increased interest in learning and an increased respect for their teachers.

At school C, the entire student population of one grade participated in EIC. These students’ records were compared with their records from the year prior to the implementation of the EIC program: their total number of behavior referrals had decreased by 56 percent, their total number of in- and out-of-school suspension hours had decreased 75 percent, and their absences had decreased by 16 percent.

At school D, EIC students—who comprised 31 percent of the students in their grade—accounted for only 3 percent of all the behavioral referrals and only 22 percent of the absentees. Sixty-four percent of the EIC students received academic incentive cards (which require a 3.0 GPA), compared to 28 percent of these same students the previous year.

At school E, EIC students—who comprised 35 percent of the students in their grade—accounted for 25 percent of the students disciplined, 18 percent of the in-school suspensions, and 14 percent of the out-of-school suspensions.

At school F, EIC students—who comprised 37 percent of the students in their grade—had only 20 percent of the in-school grade-level suspensions and only 8 percent of out-of-school suspensions.

At school G, EIC students—who comprised 19 percent of the students in their grade—had only 4 percent of the behavioral referrals, 4 percent of the in- and out-of-school suspensions, and 12 percent of the absences."

Academic progress also depends on a quality class environment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Louisiana School District Achieves Higher Scores in Statewide LEAP 21 Test

The school district of East Feliciana, Louisiana was having difficulty in maintaining academic standards for 4th and 8th grade students. It employed a new placed-based approach to learning that, over three years, meeasurably improved student performance.

The Rural School and Community Trust reports:

"Using the environment as the theme of their new place-based learning program, students studied local soil, rocks and minerals, ecology, topography, weather, biodiversity, and water quality. Nature trails and butterfly gardens were built. Over time, the focus of place-based work has expanded to include local geography and history as a meaningful context to teach science, mathematics, social studies and language arts."

Improvements: reduction from 1998 to 2002 in number of East Feliciana students rated unsatisfactory in LEAP 21 scores.

English language -- 14.2% --from 32.6 to 18.4
and arts

Mathematics -- 19.1% -- from 44.0 to 24.9

Science -- 8.1% -- from 27.5 to 19.4

Social studies -- 11.3% -- from 39.4 to 28.1

See full study:

Saturday, November 7, 2009

PLT Green School Produces Higher Science Scores In 4th Graders

Project Learning Tree, a premier U.S. environmental education program has been piloting a new and comprehensive green school approach in New Hampshire with dramatic academic results.

In September 2009, PLT of the American Forest Foundation reported:

"The school’s principal, Kyle Langille credits PLT in part for the school’s dramatic increase in 4th grade science scores announced today by the New Hampshire Department of Education. In an email to the school staff, Principal Langille said, “It is with great excitement and pride I let you know our NECAP [New England Common Assessment Program] Science scores for grade 4, released to the public today at 10:00 AM, show significant improvement. Our renewed emphasis on the science GSEs, our continued partnership with Project Learning Tree and your highly motivating and engaging lessons, are all contributing factors."
NH PLT began working with Bicentennial Elementary last year as part of its Connecting Schools to People and Place (CS2P) program, a model school improvement program. NH PLT helped the school construct an outdoor classroom and has worked with teachers to incorporate the use of the outdoor classroom and the study of the environment surrounding the school into the school’s curricula." See full article.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rural Kentucky Schools: Environmental Education Leads To Higher Scores on Statewide KRIS Test

When Tompkinsville elementary got an outdoor classroom some wondered about its academic value. A group of teachers and community members built trails, observation decks, and an outdoor amphitheatre; created garden beds; and planted flowers on the 27-acre rural campus. They soon started to see positive results.

Tompkinsville’s 630 students live in a rural area. Many of their families qualify for the free lunch program. The school serves grades pre-K through Fifth Grade. Prior to 1995, test scores in science, reading, and social studies were low.

Tompkinsville’s test scores have steadily improved since 1995 (see Table 10), and Kentucky is proud of the academic progress this school and others have achieved. Over four years, science scores increased by 25 percentage points, reading by over 21 percentage points, and social studies by nearly 40.

1995 to 1999 performance on the Kentucky Instructional Results Information System (statewide test)

-------- Science - Reading -Soc. Studies
1995–96 (24.15) (49.54) (30.37)
1996–97 (35.82) (61.87) (60.19)
1997–98 (41.14) (58.85) (64.20)
1998–99 (50.00) (72.00) (70.00)

*Total possible score: 100

See NEEF report (Page 33)

Hawley Environmental: Low-Income Students Achieve Higher Reading and Math Scores

Hawley Environmental Elementary School in Milwaukie, Wisconsin assessed student developmnet over several years and saw steady progress once it instituted and environment-based education program.

Hawley has a student body that represents varied ethnicities: African American, Asian American, Hispanic, Caucasian, and “other.” Some 71% of its students come from lower-income families who qualify for free or reduced price school lunches. Hawley’s students are drawn from throughout the city, under Milwaukee’s School Choice Program. Their names are entered into a lottery to determine which school s/he will attend.

A study by Hope for Urban Education in 1998 found that student achievement at Hawley exceeded the state average two state tests and on nationally normed assessments. First, On the

Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test in 1998:

Hawley students who passed -- 100%
Milwaukee Public School population --------- 25%

Wisconsin assessment of profciency level in reading and math 1998:

Hawley ----------------------------- 83%
Low Income Wisconsin Schools-- 38%
All Wisconsin schools ------------ 69%

Hawley ---------------------------- 48%
Low Income Wisconsin schools-- 15%
All Wisconsin schools ------------ 52%

See study summary (page 25)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Environment-based Education and Higher Reading Scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills

Many people naturally associate environmental education and improved understanding of science. But environmental education also contributes to the development of basic skills including reading. One elementary school employed environment based education for this purpose.

Bagley Elementary School in the State of Washington Washington, employed the Environment as an Integrating Context (EIC) and then measured their perofrmance on reading scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.

Bagley found that the EIC students' Iowa Test scores rose from an average of 44 to 53 among students in the environment based program

Citation: Lieberman, Gerald A. and Hoody, Linda. (1998). Closing the Achievement Gap. San Diego, CA: State Education and Environment Roundtable. (

Environmental Education Helps Minority Students Come Farther on Florida Assessment Exam

Several schools participate in environment-based education programs at the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center in Florida. These schools were tracked from 1995 to 1999 to see how the students reacted to environmental education programming as measured against standardized statewide achievement tests. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

There were four schools participating at the Center. One of the schools (Del Prado) had mostly Caucasian students; the three others have mostly minority students. The (FCAT) tells an important part of the story. For language skills and critical expository writing skills, the Del Prado School had FCAT scores of 2.4. At three other schools, including Westward, which is 80% African American and 7% Hispanic, the same FCAT measurement was 1.7 and at the two other schools, both 50% minority, the FCAT score was 1.5.
From 1995 to 1999, Del Prado students in the environmental program advanced from 2.4 to an outstanding level of 3.1, moving up .7 point on the FCAT scale. But the schools with a higher percentage of minority students improved even more. At Westward School, for example, the increase was from 1.7 to 2.8 or 1.1 points on the scale. At Melaleuca School, the increase also totaled 1.1, and Green Acres School experienced a 1.2 point increase

Download Report: see page 37. National Environmental Education Foundation and North American Association for Environmental Education.

Environment-Based Education and Higher Performance on the ACT College Entry Exam

Does environemnt-based education improve a child's abilty to get into a good college?

The ACT® college entrance test assesses high school students' educational development and ability to do college-level work. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The optional writing test, which is optional, measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. See ACT site for added background.
While performance on standardized tests is by no means the sole measure of educational success ther eis evidence that perfomance on the ACT exam can be given a boost through environmental education. At the School for Environmental Studies in Minnesota for example, a 2000 survey showed that students have exceeded state and national standards and are motivated and self-directed learners. The School for Environmental Studies students scored 24.2 on the ACT, compared to a Minnesota state average of 22.5 and a national average of 21.1.
Download Report: see page 29. National Environmental Education Foundation and North American Association for Environmental Education.

(NEETF & NAAEE, 2000).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

California EIC Study Shows Higher Achievement in Three out of Four Students

The State Education and Environment Roundtable also published a study of schools in California finding that three times out of four the students supported by environment-based education did better on tests, attitude, attendence and overall performance that students without such support.

Study Citation: State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER). (2000). California Student Assessment Project: The Effects of Environment-based Education on Student Achievement. Retrieved July 14, 2005 from

This was a controlled study that compared eight paired sets of students. One class was exposed to Education as an Integrating Context (EIC) programs and the other class did not have such a program.

In two cases, the paired classes came from the same school. In the other six cases, they came from different, neighboring schools with closely matched by demographics and socioeconomic charactereristics. Data were collected from standardized test scores, site visits, and teacher surveys and interviews. The authors compared standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science and social studies,

Findings: the EIC students did better in 72% of the time. And, the EIC student class attendance was better 77% of the time. They also showed fewer discipline problems, increased enthusiasm for learning, and greater pride in their accomplishments.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Seminal Study: Environment-based Education Measurably Improves All-around Student Performance

In 1998, The State Education and Environment Roundtable helped the environmental education field and education in general to better assess how environment-based education can improve a student's overall academic experience and performance. The particular focus of this effort was on how environment-based education can serve as a medium for integrating education across disciplines and educational strategies. The authors and developers refer to it as Environment as and Integrating Context (EIC).

Citation: Lieberman, Gerald A. and Hoody, Linda. (1998). Closing the Achievement Gap. San Diego, CA: State Education and Environment Roundtable. (

This study assessed student performance in 40 schools that were already implementing the EIC approach. It was completed by Lieberman and Hoody in partnership with 12 State Departments of Education. The data came from site visits to all 40 schools and inclued four different teacher surveys, interviews with more than 400 students and 250 teachers and administrators. Moreover, in 14 of the subject schools, the EIC students were compared with students from the same schools who were in traditional classrooms looking at on standardized test scores, grade point averages, attendance, student attitude measures, and records of disciplinary actions.

The results: higher scores on standardized measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies; reduced discipline and classroom management problems; increased engagement and enthusiasm for learning; and greater pride and ownership in their accomplishments.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Environment-Based Education Results in Higher Achievement Motivation

In a time when teachers and parents are concerned about apathy in students, the evidence that environment-based education increases one's desire to learn is apparant.

Consider the study: Athman, Julie & Monroe, Martha. (2004). The effects of environment-based education on students’ achievement motivation. Journal of Interpretation Research, 9(1): 9-25.

This study finds that learning motivation is associated with more actual engagement in schoolwork. This improves improves a student's academic performance. The study looked at 11 Florida high schools, 400 9th and 12th grade students. The authors compared achievement motivation in classrooms with environment-based educational programs that use the environment as an integrated context (EIC) to more traditional classrooms.

Students filled out an Achievement Motivation Inventory and a number of teachers and students participating in the programs were interviewed.

Basic study finding: "Controlling for grade point average, gender and ethnicity, environment-based education significantly raised 9th and 12th graders’ achievement motivation in comparison to the control groups. Students and teachers attributed increased motivation to the use of the local environment, teachers’ ability to tailor learning experiences to students’ interests and strengths, and the application of learning to real-life issues and problems" This "often enabled students to present their work to community audiences beyond their teacher."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Environmental Education Produces Higher Scores on Standardized Tests -- The Washington State Findings

Research in Washington and other states shows that students in schools using environmental education consistently score higher on standardized tests than students in schools without EE


Because EE helps:

◗ Increase motivation for learning in all subject areas
◗ Focus students and improve their overall behavior in the classroom4
◗ Develop critical thinking skills
◗ Foster the ability to work both independently and collaboratively

Eco-Education Makes Better Students

In these posts you will find a collection of articles and studies that document how environmental education prgorams at schools and after-school programs improve student learning and enhance standardized test results.

The evidence is compelling that the hands-on applied and real world aspects of most environmental education improves student desire to learn and performance on most measures of student success.