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).