Below is a text-only version of the Executive Summary (i.e. no tables, figures, graphics). A web compatible version (i.e. low resolution graphics) of the complete report can be downloaded from the bottom of this page. Please note that the complete report is a very large file, even with reduced quality graphics, and so can take up to a couple of minutes to download, even with a high speed connection. Contact CO-SEED staff directly for a high resolution version of the report.
An Evaluation of
Community-based School Environmental Education
Antioch New England Institute
& the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative
& Program Evaluation and Educational Research (PEER) Associates
December 6, 2004
Project CO-SEED’s primary purpose is to help schools and communities work together to develop community- and place-based approaches to education while simultaneously strengthening the community and helping the environment. This 2003-04 Final CO-SEED Evaluation Report presents quantitative, qualitative, and literature review findings from CO-SEED’s fifth consecutive year of program evaluation and seventh year of operation. Conclusions and implications for practice are offered for survey data that was aggregated across all CO-SEED sites, for interview and document review data for five start up sites, two wrap up sites, and one emeritus site, reported on a site by site basis. The report closes with three overall conclusions and implications for practice that follow from synthesizing the entire 2003-04
data set as a whole:
1) CO-SEED showed strong evidence of positive impacts on teachers and students, which in turn generated positive impacts at the school and community level;
2) The CO-SEED model remained coherent across all sites while also flexibly adapting to unique local conditions;
3) The next step for the long term growth and development of CO-SEED may be to decide whether to assume a “franchise” or a “mom and pop” model.
Results from analysis of 249 CO-SEED educator surveys and 446 CO-SEED student surveys suggested that participating in CO-SEED makes significant and positive contributions to nearly every measured outcome. The biggest impacts were detected for:
· Overall teacher practice (especially teacher engagement/growth, teacher collaboration, and meeting curriculum goals)
· Student engagement in learning
· Student civic engagement
· Student attachment to place (especially time spent outdoors and learning through local resources)
· Student environmental stewardship behavior
· Student satisfaction with the quality of their school
· Community planning/decision making processes.
Combining CO-SEED survey data with similar data from other programs in the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) also suggested that the impacts of place-based education programs that work with an entire school may reach a kind of “tipping point.” After a year or two the effects of a program appear to become part of the school culture, norms, and practices, and thus become more powerful for the long term.
Five sites in their first year (or so) of CO-SEED involvement were evaluated, and summaries of those findings follow.
Results from interviews and document review suggested a good fit between CO-SEED and the Dearborn Middle School site in Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston. CO-SEED personnel were greatly appreciated, there was evidence of increased interdisciplinary collaboration, and groundwork was laid for progress in the coming year two of the program. Some timeline challenges were identified and largely overcome.
The Haley School site, located in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, demonstrated noteworthy gains in the realms of changing teaching practice (especially in science), student engagement in learning, and connecting with the Haley community (especially parents). This occurred despite substantial concerns about teacher workload. Overall, it seems that the primary challenge facing CO-SEED at Haley for 2004-05 is to simply keep the positive momentum going.
At the third start up site in Boston, the Young Achievers Math and Science Pilot School in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood, CO-SEED has integrated strongly with the existing culture, resulting in increased teacher collaboration which translates into engaging and coherent community-based projects for the students. CO-SEED seemed to mitigate but not fully alleviate some of the stresses associated with innovative, values-based enterprises such as Young Achievers.
Results from interviews and document review for the Hinsdale site, a rural community in New Hampshire, suggested that the CO-SEED model must adapt substantially if it is to succeed in communities like Hinsdale that face complex, systemic factors embedded in the school and community culture. Despite the formidable context in Hinsdale, there was definite evidence of some positive impacts for teachers and students.
The Bradford, VT site started several months before the other four sites presented in this report, but was still considered as a start up site for the purposes of this report. Evaluation data suggested a strong increase in the school-community connection, and notable impacts for students in terms of learning outdoors and involvement in decision-making. This site also required substantial reframing of certain aspects of the CO-SEED model.
Two sites that wrapped up their 3+ years of involvement with CO-SEED during 2003-04 were evaluated this year. These findings are summarized in the following two paragraphs.
The Littleton, NH site started out with a strong school-community connection and successfully built up from there. Wrap up interviews suggested that new relationships were formed and groundwork was laid for the continuation and development of core projects. A new school-community liaison has been created and filled by key CO-SEED staff person. Ongoing funding for this position remains a challenge.
The Gilford, NH site may come to be viewed as a prototype for the kinds of positive student, teacher, and community impacts that can occur at a site where all the ingredients are there, waiting for a catalyst such as CO-SEED. Prospects for sustaining CO-SEED’s work at the elementary school are high because the school district has made a significant financial commitment to fund a CLC representative position. It may be unrealistic to expect exactly this type of success at all CO-SEED sites.
Interviews were also conducted at the Gorham, New Hampshire site which finished its formal tenure with CO-SEED in 2001. These retrospective interviews underscored the importance of a strong SEED team, consistent administrative support at all levels, and connecting CO-SEED work to existing curriculum frameworks and requirements.
This evaluation report also situates CO-SEED in the context of educational and research literature related to the need for a healthier environment, the connection between schools and communities, educational reform, student achievement, “diffusion of innovations” theory and research, and a recent study that synthesizes the research on environmental education, museums, health education, and social marketing.
The main body of this report provides a more detailed presentation of all of the findings and methods described above.