For the Cumberland Times-News
CUMBERLAND — The first year of the Allegany County Collaboration for Environmental Literacy in public schools has been deemed a success by the school system.
Participating life science and high school earth science students improved content knowledge test scores by 50 percent or greater.
In 2011, the schools joined a partnership between the Evergreen Heritage Center Foundation, Frostburg State University, Allegany College of Maryland, Head Start, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.
A five-year plan was developed to improve student environmental literacy and become a model for environmental literacy across the state.
The ACCEL partnership served 2,934 students in grades four through seven, earth/space science students and eight Head Start classes, or 98 percent of its 2,990 student target.
All teachers were educated on the new graduation requirement and provided sample activities to use with their students. The Evergreen center developed a dozen outdoor learning stations and 54 outdoor lessons that can be used by both the center and teachers in their schoolyards.
All lessons and learning stations are in alignment with state curriculum and environmental literacy requirements for graduation.
The five-year plan strives to ensure that all students have at least one outdoor environmental education experience every school year.
Maryland’s environmental literacy graduation requirement is the first in the nation, and in addition, Allegany County was the only county in Maryland to receive a multiyear grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to implement an environmental literacy plan.