In 2017, 22 percent of the 132 local education agencies that responded to a Chesapeake Bay Program survey self-identified as “well-prepared” to put a comprehensive and systemic approach to environmental literacy in place. About half of these school districts are located in Virginia, and about half are located in Maryland.
Environmental Literacy Preparedness in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (2015-2017)
Responding Local Education Agencies' Self-Identified Preparedness to Implement a Comprehensive and Systemic Approach to Environmental Literacy
Environmental Literacy Preparedness in Watershed Jurisdictions (2017)
Local Education Agencies' Self-Identified Preparedness to Implement a Comprehensive and Systemic Approach to Environmental Literacy
Most of the local education agencies that responded to the Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT) consider themselves “somewhat prepared” to deliver high-quality environmental literacy programming to their students. Of these 76 school districts—which make up 57 percent of survey respondents—almost 60 percent are located in Virginia and about 20 percent are located in Pennsylvania. (Nine somewhat prepared districts are located in Maryland, five are located in Delaware and one is located in the District of Columbia.) Of the 27 local education agencies that identified as “not prepared”—which make up 20 percent of survey respondents— about 55 percent are located in Pennsylvania and almost 40 percent are located in Virginia. (Two not prepared districts are located in Delaware.)
A pilot survey that measured the degree of environmental literacy preparedness and the extent of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) among school districts across the watershed was distributed in 2015. Data collected through the ELIT show some indication of an increase in school districts’ environmental literacy preparedness since the distribution of this pilot. Most notably, the portion of responding school districts that identified as well-prepared rose four percentage points, while the portion of responding school districts that identified as not prepared fell six percentage points.
While 196 local education agencies in the Chesapeake Bay watershed—or 60 percent of the total—did not respond to the ELIT, those districts that did respond represent 75 percent of the watershed’s public elementary, middle and high school students. The District of Columbia (home to one school district in the watershed) saw a 100 percent response rate. Maryland (home to 24 school districts in the watershed) saw a 96 percent response rate. Delaware (home to eight school districts in the watershed) saw an 88 percent response rate. Virginia (home to 94 school districts in the watershed) saw a 74 percent response rate. Pennsylvania (home to 193 school districts in the watershed) saw a 16 percent response rate. West Virginia (home to eight school districts in the watershed) saw a zero percent response rate. This dataset does not include data from New York.
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.