In 2019, local education agencies—55% of the total (when combined with a small subset of 2017 data)—responded to the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT) that measures the degree of environmental literacy preparedness among school districts across the watershed:
- 27% of respondents self-identified as “well-prepared” to put a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy in place.
- 52% of respondents self-identified as “somewhat prepared” to put a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy in place.
- 22% of respondents self-identified as “not prepared” to put a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy in place.
Environmental Literacy Preparedness in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (2015-2019)
Responding Local Education Agencies' Self-Identified Preparedness to Implement a Comprehensive and Systemic Approach to Environmental Literacy
Environmental Literacy Preparedness in Watershed Jurisdictions (2019)
Local Education Agencies' Self-Identified Preparedness to Implement a Comprehensive and Systemic Approach to Environmental Literacy
The 2019 reported data for Pennsylvania and Virginia include a small subset of data that was gathered in the 2017 survey period. The exact same survey tool was used in the 2019 survey and data from 2017 was only carried forward if a district did not respond to the 2019 survey. Delaware did not participate in the 2019 survey and the data reflects their 2017 responses. New York does not currently collect ELIT data. The full 2019 ELIT survey results are available for download.
Between 2017 and 2019, there have been continued positive shifts in local education agencies’ level of preparedness, primarily with an increase in the proportion of local education agencies within the watershed that scored as “well prepared” (22% in 2017 to 27% in 2019). Moreover, the data from across three years of surveying local education agencies indicate a steady increase, of about 3-4% each period, of the proportion of well-prepared districts aggregated across responding districts in the watershed. Further, when looking only at data from districts for which there is both 2017 and 2019 reports, 23% of local education agencies in the watershed moved to a higher category of preparedness.
While 147 local education agencies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—or 45% of the total—did not respond to the ELIT, those districts that did respond represent 63% of the public elementary, middle and high school students that reside inside the watershed. Maryland (home to 24 school districts in the watershed) and the District of Columbia (home to one school district in the watershed) saw 100% response rates. Virginia (home to 94 school districts in the watershed) saw an 81% response rate. Delaware (home to 16 school districts in the watershed) saw a 44% response rate. Pennsylvania (home to 499 school districts in the watershed) saw a 29% response rate. West Virginia (home to 55 school districts in the watershed) saw a 7% response rate.
Local education agencies and state departments of education play critical roles in supporting, developing and implementing in-school environmental literacy programs. The Chesapeake Bay Program’s Education Workgroup connects natural resource agencies, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, colleges, and scientific and professional experts to help education agencies develop and deliver programs that impact environmental instruction in the classroom and the field. A concerted effort toward environmental literacy and education will form the foundation of an informed and active citizenry that can understand and respond to complex environmental problems.