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.