Ensuring Environmental Literacy through Standards
New Hampshire has content frameworks in areas that are built from and aligned to rigorous standards. These standards reference resources such as the Benchmarks for Science Literacy, National Science Education Standards, National Math Standards and National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.
As one of the first steps in developing a State Environmental Literacy Plan, the Environmental Literacy Plan working group performed a crosswalk analysis comparing the New Hampshire Social Studies and Science Frameworks with the Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines for Learning (K-12)8 of the North American Association for Environmental Education and found a strong alignment between the documents (Appendix C). New Hampshire has recently adopted the national Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics.
Support for environmental literacy within educational frameworks happens on a variety of levels including classroom, family, school, school district and state levels. Therefore it is necessary to engage multiple stakeholders in the process. The following are strategies:
- Develop an Environmental Literacy Advisory committee that includes representatives from the New Hampshire Environmental Educators, New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition and NH Department of Education to pair Nonformal* Environmental Education providers with school administrators and classroom teachers, and Nonformal Environmental Education providers with after school programs, extended learning opportunity providers and state agencies.
- Encourage the development of an environmental education database to connect Nonformal Environmental Education providers and resources with local classrooms. The database will also provide resources to all educators in order to support environmental education efforts across the state.
- The NH Department of Education will encourage teachers to use high quality proven environmental education materials correlated to NH frameworks.
- Partnerships will provide opportunities to integrate meaningful outdoor field and service learning experiences at every grade level.
- Support, including financial, will be provided for teachers to partake in more professional development in environmental literacy.
- Resources will be made available for planning and developing schoolyard habitat and outdoor classrooms.
There are three goals related to standards of environmental literacy in New Hampshire.
1. Educationally Meaningful Outdoor Field Experience
Short Term Outcomes*:
- Begin to organize a database of environmental education resources to be available to and used by stakeholders.
- Teachers are aware of how environmental literacy is integrated into frameworks.
Medium Term Outcomes*:
- Integrate learning about the environment in all content areas and across the curriculum.
- Every child at every grade level has at least one educationally meaningful* outdoor field experience every year.
Long Term Outcome*:
- Every child at every grade level has integrated multiple educationally meaningful* outdoor field experience every year.
2. Partnerships for developing environmental literacy
Short Term Outcomes:
- Teachers are supported by administration in using the environment as a context for learning.
- Districts provide professional development opportunities on environmental literacy.
- Medium Term Outcomes:
- Schools have support for developing outdoor learning spaces near the school.
- School districts have a relationship with environmental education content and professional development providers.
Long Term Outcomes:
- Every school has an outdoor learning area with easy access.
- School districts have a partnership with local environmental education nonformal organizations to develop environmental literacy in students.
- An Environmental Literacy liaison is located at either the Department of Education or in one of the state agencies.
3. State and National support for environmental literacy standards
Short Term Outcomes:
- NH Department of Education and/or other state agency partners facilitate regular meetings of the Environmental Literacy Plan Advisory Committee.
- Nonformal EE centers correlate their program to the NH Frameworks where applicable.
- Strong relationship with the Environmental Literacy Plan and the NH STEM initiative.
- Provide examples of models for partnerships between school districts and nonformal environmental education organizations in the environmental database.
Medium Term Outcomes:
- Use principles and practices to select and develop effective environmental literacy programming for students.
Long Term Outcomes:
- NH Department of Education participates in national and regional dialogues and work groups to develop, support and adopt future generations of science and social studies standards that support environmental literacy.