Review of States with Environmental Education Assessment
The Maryland State Department of Education’s Voluntary State Curriculum includes pre K-12 grade core learning goals that address environmental education across the curriculum, with a strong emphasis in the social studies and science content areas. Additionally, the state has adopted an environmental education bylaw requiring local school systems to implement multiple comprehensive environmental education units of study throughout a student’s academic career.
Environmental education learning goals may be included in each of the state’s core subject assessments. Beginning in spring 2007, Maryland will field test a state-wide science assessment program in grades 5 and 8.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Education has established k-12 content standards in Environment and Ecology. These standards may be covered as part of a distinct subject or integrated into another area of the curriculum.
State level assessments for science and technology are being field tested for the first time during the current academic year in grades 4, 8, and 11. Environment and ecology standards are included as part of this new testing program.
New Jersey’s K-12 Core Curriculum Content Standards include an environmental education standard in both science and social studies at each benchmark grade level. Social studies standards include an environment and society strand at each grade level, and science standards include an environmental studies strand for each grade level. Within multiple science strands, there are numerous cumulative progress indicators related to environmental science.
New Jersey’s state-administered assessments include science in grades 4, 8, and—beginning in 2007—11. Within the science assessment, tested standards include environmental studies for each participating grade level. Social studies is not part of the assessment for any grade at this time.
While Ohio’s Department of Education has not established specific standards for environmental education, related indicators can be found throughout the academic content standards, including science, social studies, technology, English language arts, and mathematics.
In accordance with state guidelines, Ohio Achievement Tests are given to students in grades 3-8 in multiple content areas. Assessment questions in all subject areas—reading, mathematics, science, social studies, and writing—include those related to multi-disciplinary environmental education.
The Illinois State Board of Education has adopted learning standards for environmental education in the content areas of science and social sciences at each benchmark grade level. Within several learning standards in both content areas, there are numerous benchmarks that are relevant to environmental education.
Illinois administers science assessments in grades 4, 7, 11, and 12 using the Illinois Standards Achievement Test for grade 4 and 7, and the Prairie State Achievement Exam in grades 11 and 12. The state has established guidelines for assessment requiring that 30 percent of the exam content related to environmental science subject matter. At this time, the state of Illinois does not assess achievement in social sciences.
Nevada’s Department of Education has established environmental education benchmarks within content standards for science (life science) and social studies (environment and society.)
Through the Nevada Proficiency Examination Program, students in grades 3, 8, and 10 participate in Criteria Reference Testing for science content, including life science benchmarks. State guidelines allow for testing of certain social studies goals and benchmarks (including many related to environmental education) at the state level, but such testing is not currently required.