Environmental Literacy

Environmental Literacy, for the District of Columbia, is the development of knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to make informed decisions concerning the relationships between natural and urban systems.

An environmentally literate person (as defined in the DC Environmental Literacy Plan, 2014):

  • Can discuss and describe ecological and environmental systems and human impacts on these systems;
  • Engages in hands-on, outdoor learning experiences that involve discovery, inquiry, and problem solving;
  • Is able to question and analyze information pertaining to his or her surrounding environment; and
  • Has the capacity to take actions that respect, restore, protect, and sustain the health and well-being of human communities and environmental systems.

DC Healthy Schools Act (HSA) and the Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP)
With the passage of the HSA, legislation mandated the development of the ELP, to create a framework of standards, professional development, assessment, and leadership for individuals and organizations to thrive and achieve innovation in education. Plans should include:

  • A description of how the state agencies will measure the environmental literacy of students.
  • Content standards and how they relate to environmental literacy.
  • A description of programs for professional development of teachers.
  • Must address the relationship of the plan to graduation requirements.
  • A description of how the plan will be implemented.
  • The plan must specify who will be involved in review, and include stakeholders such as State Education agencies, non-profits, federal agencies, etc.

As mandated by the HSA, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) formed the DC Environmental Literacy Plan workgroup (Anacostia Watershed Society, DCEEC and other DC agencies) to draft the following sections:

  • Content Standards and Professional Development
  • Graduation Requirements and Evaluation
  • Implementation and Funding

The ELP was submitted to DC Council in June of 2012, passed unanimously and signed by Mayor Vincent Gray in July 2012. Environmental Literacy Plan / Executive Summary/ Appendices

Implementation of the Environmental Literacy Plan
In 2013, the DC Environmental Education Consortium (DCEEC), the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and DC Greens, proposed a two year pilot project to DDOE with a goal of creating a strong school-based foundation for a Sustainable DC. They proposed to collaborate with teachers and schools to develop a guide for schools that identified the knowledge and skills District students need to become environmentally literate. They identified, 4 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools, one from each ward of the city, 4 DCPS and 4 DCPCS. These schools became known as the Sustainable DC Model Schools. With a strategy in place DCEEC, AWS and DCGreens reached out to administrators at each school, they in turn identified an Environmental Literacy Coordinator and together we all went to work for the next two years. From 2013-2014, partners and Environmental Literacy Coordinators, each with their expertise, met monthly and developed and piloted the Environmental Literacy Framework (ELF). The following are the Environmental Organization that support the ELF. From 2014- 2015 each of the eight Sustainable Model Schools developed and implemented their school’s Environmental Literacy Plans using the ELF as a guideline.

If you are an administrator and/or teacher interested in discussing the implementation of the ELF at your school please email dceecnaturally@gmail.com