Progress

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.

Interactive Charts

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.

Management Strategy

To achieve this outcome, Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to:

  • Supporting school districts in their efforts to incorporate locally appropriate environmental practices, content and learning opportunities into their operations and curricula;
  • Using data and information to strategically and equitably direct resources toward district-level environmental literacy planning and implementation; and
  • Ensuring state and regional understanding of our environmental literacy progress, gaps and opportunities.

Monitoring and assessing progress toward the outcome will occur through the Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT).

As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s partnership-wide implementation of adaptive management, progress toward this outcome was reviewed and discussed by the Management Board in February of 2018.

Work Plan

Chesapeake Bay Program partners have committed to taking a series of specific actions that will support the management approaches listed above.

Completed actions from this outcome's work plan include:

  • In 2016, the Education Workgroup hosted the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Literacy Leadership Summit, which brought environmental education experts, cabinet-level state government representatives and other decision-makers together to explore how states can help local education agencies create and sustain high-quality environmental literacy programming. In 2017, the Education Workgroup convened two additional summits. The first (held in April) explored the benefits of sustainable schools, the cultivation and support of environmental literacy programs and the ways state, federal and local education agencies can work together to enrich student educational experiences. The second (held in November) established a cadre of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) ambassadors to advocate for and support the development of state and local environmental literacy programs.
  • In 2017, the Education Workgroup established indicators of environmental literacy in order to assess progress toward environmental literacy goals.
  • In 2017, the Education Workgroup distributed the second Environmental Literacy Indicator Tool (ELIT) survey and is analyzing related data.
  • In 2017, the Education Workgroup published An Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience. This easy-to-use manual for constructing high-quality educational experiences for all students brings consistency and quality to the work done under the Environmental Literacy Planning, Student and Sustainable School outcomes. As jurisdictions continue to implement improved and more systemic MWEEs, they will use and promote this so-called MWEE Guide with teachers and non-formal educators and strengthen outdoor learning for students throughout the region. This resource will help create young citizens who understand and respect our natural world.

Participating Partners

The Fostering Stewardship Goal Implementation Team leads the effort to achieve this outcome.

Participating partners include:

  • State of Delaware
  • State of Maryland
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • District of Columbia
  • Chesapeake Bay Commission
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Park Service
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Forest Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Cacapon Institute
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Chesapeake Bay Trust
  • Experience Learning
  • Stroud Water Research Center