Environmental Literacy Standards
As of 2011, The Maryland State Board of Education requires that each public school student be environmentally literate before they graduate from high school, making Maryland the first state in the USA to approve environmental literacy as a graduation requirement.
These literacy standards require that each student receive a multi-disciplinary environmental education that is approved of the State Superintendent of Schools. Each district is responsible for developing its own environmental education program. The Maryland State Board of Education will give final approval and provide oversight for schools as they develop effective environmental literacy programs that align with the Maryland State Environmental Literacy Standards. Districts are also responsible for developing assessments to evaluate students’ mastery of the material to determine if they are eligible for graduation.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature in 2008 by executive order. This partnership was charged with developing and implementing a plan to provide youth with opportunities for outdoor recreation and learning, as well as a state environmental literacy plan that identified the necessary elements for developing environmentally literate students. This literacy plan was eventually brought to the Maryland State Board of Education who adopted them as the Environmental Literacy Standards, making them a graduation requirement in June of 2011. These standards were originally implemented without funding, and in 2012 the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature hosted a conference for representatives from each school district in Maryland to offer information and showcase model programs that have been developed and implemented. This event allowed district representatives to meet with environmental education providers, and lead to the U.S. Department of Education Title II Math and Science Partnership offering a grant, providing 4 years of funding to the Maryland State Department of Education to establish the Maryland Environmental Literacy Program for professional development in environmental education for teachers.