Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

On this page you will find frequently asked questions and answers regarding the history, the EEI Curriculum, and implementing the Education and the Environment Initiative.

I. The History of EEI

Q: What is the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI)?

A: The Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) was signed into law in 2003 [Assembly Bill 1548 (Pavley, Statues of 2003) and AB 1721 (Pavley, Statutes of 2005)]. It mandates a broad-ranging strategy to bring education about the environment into California’s K-12 schools. Specifically, this law requires the State to:

  • Develop Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C) to complement the State’s academic content standards;
  • Incorporate the EP&Cs into the State Board of Education's criteria for adopted instructional materials in science, history-social science, English/language arts, and mathematics;
  • Design, develop, and disseminate a K-12 standards-based curriculum to teach these EP&Cs to California’s K-12 students;
  • Align State agency programs with the EP&Cs; and
  • Establish an interagency partnership to implement the EEI.

 

Q: What are the Environmental Principals and Concepts?

A: As part of the creation of the landmark California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum, more than 100 scientists and technical experts from across the state—representing State agencies, universities, business and industry, and environmental organizations—contributed to the development of a unique set of Environmental Principles and Concepts.

Five environmental principles and 14 related concepts were developed to examine the interactions and interdependence of human societies and natural systems.

The EP&Cs were widely distributed and subjected to field reviews statewide. They were reviewed and approved by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Secretary, as well as by the former California Integrated Waste Management Board (now the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery [CalRecycle].

The EP&Cs serve as the foundation for developing the Model Curriculum for the K-12 California EEI Curriculum as mandated under the Education and the Environment Initiative.

Learn more about California's unique EP&Cs at http://www.calepa.ca.gov/Education/Principles/.

 

Q: When was the EEI Curriculum developed and who was involved in the planning process?

A: The development of the plan for the EEI Curriculum was completed in June 2005. The development team made extensive efforts to take into account the numerous environmental curricula and education programs across the state. Input was solicited from diverse providers and stakeholders (State and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, and K-12 educators). These stakeholders participated in developing the plan for the EEI Curriculum. In addition to participating in planning, this process allowed the providers and stakeholders to explore the role that their existing programs may play in achieving the overall goals of the EEI.

 

Q: Which State agencies are responsible for implementing the Education and the Environment Initiative?

A: The partners leading this groundbreaking effort include the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the former California Integrated Waste Management Board, now CalRecycle. They are working in cooperation with the California Department of Education, State Board of Education, Governor’s Office of the Secretary for Education, and the California Natural Resources Agency.

 

Q: Are only State agencies involved in implementing the Education and the Environment Initiative?

A: No, a broad-based education partnership comprised of representatives of government, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and education institutions provides guidance to the effort, promotes outreach to various constituencies, and is working to secure funding for the implementation of the EEI.

 

Q: What steps were taken during the development of the plan for the EEI Curriculum?

A: The development of the plan for the Model Curriculum took place January-April 2005.

The major steps in the process of developing the plan were:

  1. Established an Interagency Model Curriculum Planning Committee to guide the development of the model curriculum plan—participants included representatives of Cal/EPA, CalRecycle (the former California Integrated Waste Management Board, State Department of Education, State Board of Education, Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, Governor’s Office of the Secretary of Education, and the Natural Resources Agency.
  2. Defined the goals and scope for the EEI Curriculum.
  3. Gathered input on the draft design—from the standards alignment maps, statewide Educator Needs Assessment, and county office of education focus group meetings.
  4. Developed instructional design for the EEI Curriculum—including initial grade-level coverage, initial discipline coverage, and breadth of content standards coverage.
  5. Developed grade-level and discipline-specific learning objectives—based on alignment to standards and the identified grade-level sequence of instruction that will achieve mastery of the standards and EP&Cs in a sequence based on the standards alignment maps.
  6. Assembled the Model Curriculum Plan.
  7. Reviewed the draft plan with the Interagency Model Curriculum Planning Committee.

 

Q: What process was used to ensure the content of the EEI curriculum is technically and scientifically accurate?

A: The EEI Curriculum, which was approved by the State Board of Education in early 2010, was developed and vetted in a lengthy and highly transparent public process that included multiple layers of peer and expert review, including the following:

  1. Expert reviews of each curriculum unit in 2006-09;
  2. Field and pilot testing by teachers in 2007-09;
  3. An independent review by the Curriculum Development & Supplemental Materials Commission and State Board of Education in 2009 (which mirrored the textbook adoption review process);
  4. Professional peer review by associations of education professionals at various conferences and meetings (throughout the process);
  5. A nine-month public comment period during which the Curriculum was posted on the web (and of which well over a thousand individuals and organizations were notified by both Cal/EPA and CDE);
  6. Additional review by subject matter experts of select, high profile units;
  7. SBE review (by law), and subsequent approval (as noted above) contingent upon incorporation of necessary edits and corrections; and
  8. Final review and approval by CDE of all edits and corrections at the direction of SBE.

In addition, the authors and expert reviewers for each curriculum unit are listed in each unit and may be viewed online.

 

Q: Where can I see the plan for developing the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum?

A: The law provided specific directives regarding the development and dissemination of a “model curriculum” (EEI Curriculum) for the Environmental Principals and Concepts, which were developed as part of the EEI. The key provisions were as follows:

  • For the purposes of the EEI, the term “model curriculum” (EEI Curriculum) means a comprehensive educational plan, for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, for teaching the Environmental Principles and Concepts.
  • The EEI Curriculum has been developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the former California Integrated Waste Management Board, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Agency, State Department of Education, and State Board of Education.
  • The EEI Curriculum has been aligned, where applicable, with adopted academic content standards in science and history-social sciences, and supports English/language arts standards where appropriate.

The EEI Curriculum was reviewed by the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, the Secretary for Environmental Protection, and the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, then submitted to the State Board of Education for its approval.

 

Q: What legislative provisions cover the Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum?

A: The law provided specific directives regarding the development and dissemination of a “model curriculum” (EEI Curriculum) for the Environmental Principals and Concepts, which were developed as part of the EEI. The key provisions were as follows:

  •  For the purposes of the EEI, the term “model curriculum” (EEI Curriculum) means a comprehensive educational plan, for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, for teaching the Environmental Principles and Concepts.
  • The EEI Curriculum has been developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the former California Integrated Waste Management Board, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Agency, State Department of Education, and State Board of Education.
  • The EEI Curriculum has been aligned, where applicable, with adopted academic content standards in science and history-social sciences, and supports English/language arts standards where appropriate.

The EEI Curriculum was reviewed by the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, the Secretary for Environmental Protection, and the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, then submitted to the State Board of Education for its approval.

Q: What was the plan for developing and disseminating the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum?

A: The EEI curriculum was developed and tested from 2006 to 2009. Dissemination is scheduled for late 2010. For a detailed look at the phases of the California EEI, please check out the Phases and Timeline: Education and the Environment Initiative. The course of action, to date, has included:

  1. Engaged writers to develop standards-based curriculum.
  2. Developed draft EEI Curriculum.
  3. Field-tested draft EEI Curriculum materials.
  4. Revised draft materials based on teachers’ input during field testing.
  5. Pilot-tested grade-level EEI Curriculum packages.
  6. Revised draft grade-level EEI Curriculum packages based on teachers’ input during pilot testing.
  7. Submitted draft EEI Curriculum to the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission for review, comment, and approval.
  8. Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission submitted comments on draft EEI Curriculum to Secretaries of Cal/EPA and Natural Resources Agency.
  9. Draft Final EEI Curriculum posted online.
  10. Secretaries of Cal/EPA and Natural Resources Agency submitted EEI Curriculum to State Board of Education for approval.
  11. State Board of Education approved the EEI Curriculum for use in California K-12 classrooms statewide.
  12. Production and dissemination of EEI Curriculum and related professional development for teachers and educational leaders.

 

Q: Will the Environmental Principles and Concepts be incorporated into textbooks?

A: The law calls for incorporating the EP&Cs into criteria for textbook adoption in science, mathematics, English/language arts, and history-social science. The textbook adoption process operates on a multiyear cycle, so it is not possible to immediately incorporate the Environmental Principles and Concepts into all textbooks. The criteria for the next English/language arts textbook adoption were recently approved by the State Board of Education. These criteria state: “When appropriate, informational texts in grades 4-8 will include content that incorporates education principles and concepts for the environment that is consistent with grade-level Standards and the unit/ theme design and as required in Public Resources Code Section 71301(d)(1).” Similar criteria will be included in the adoption criteria for history-social science and science during the next adoption cycle.

 

Q: Who were the stakeholders involved in helping to conceptualize and develop the EEI when the law was first passed?

A: From its inception, implementation of the Education and the Environment Initiative has been a collaborative effort involving a number of governmental and non-governmental organizations. Key partners have included the Office of the Secretary of Education, State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, and the California Natural Resources Agency. Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization and the bill’s sponsor, joined the state’s leadership team in early-2004.

The following entities participated as members of an “Education Partnership”, formed in 2004 to help in the development of the Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C's) and standard alignment process in preparation for the creation of the Model Curriculum Plan. This volunteer entity is no longer active, although many of these organizations are still engaged in our current EEI efforts. Below is a listing of the individuals/organizations that participated in the EEI’s early development work. For a list of our Partners  click here. 

 

II. The EEI Curriculum

Q: What is the purpose of the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum?

A: The EEI Curriculum has been designed to function as a scope and sequence for teaching the Environmental Principles and Concepts. It provides a learning continuum from kindergarten through twelfth grade with clearly defined learning outcomes that are aligned to California’s academic content standards and targeted at helping students achieve mastery of those standards at each grade level.

 

Q: How will the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) help students achieve mastery of academic content standards? Does the EEI Curriculum relate to adopted instructional materials and other environmental curricula and education programs?

A: The EEI Curriculum provides teachers with an alternative strategy for using adopted instructional materials. It interests students by using the environment as a context for standards-based instruction. The EEI Curriculum is designed to teach standards to mastery through instructional strategies that are relevant and engaging.

At the same time, the EEI Curriculum is designed to work in coordination with the instructional materials that are adopted by the State Board of Education, as well as the educational resources that are offered by the providers of California’s diverse environmental curricula and education programs. This approach provides students and teachers with the opportunity to make the most appropriate use of all of the rich instructional resources that are available to them.

 

Q: Students enjoy learning about the environment, but what makes the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) Curriculum so unique or significant?

A: The EEI Curriculum is designed to increase environmental literacy in K-12 students throughout California. Accomplishing that goal requires building an understanding that everyone and everything is linked to the environment. California’s economic prosperity, the health of its citizens, and in fact, our whole future depends on the health of the environment in which we live. Integrating education about the environment into our K-12 school system will make learning relevant to today’s world and prepare students to be knowledgeable citizens who can make informed decisions about California’s future.

There are also many important benefits to incorporating environment-based instruction into K-12 schools:

  • Evidence from a growing body of national studies indicates that achievement increases when students learn the academic content standards in an environmental context.
  • Environmental content can be connected to many subject areas, including science, history-social science, English/language arts, and mathematics. These connections help students understand how learning can be relevant to their daily lives and their communities, a significant motivating factor in the learning process.
  • Students can learn about how their individual actions affect the environment, thus allowing and encouraging them to participate in identifying and helping resolve environmental issues that may have an impact on their quality of life.

 

Q: Now that the EEI Curriculum is finalized and SBE-approved, how will it be updated in the future?

A: Future plans for updates to the EEI Curriculum are currently undetermined, but will likely be greatly influenced by the state’s annual textbook adoption process (which is currently suspended until the 2013-14 school year). In the meantime, should a member of the public identify a discrete error in the curriculum and wish to submit a correction, Cal/EPA will collect and review submissions. Submit the specific error and correction to eei@calepa.ca.gov

 

III. Implementing the EEI

Q: How will the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) work with environmental education programs in State agencies?

A: The law states that the EP&Cs developed under the EEI “shall be used to” do all of the following:

  1. “To direct (the programs of) state agencies that include environmental education components for elementary and secondary education in regulatory decisions or enforcement actions.
  2. “To (serve as the basis for aligning the) state agency environmental education programs and materials that are developed for elementary and secondary education.

 

Q: How will the Education and the Environment Initiative work with environmental education programs in non-governmental organizations?

A: The law does not directly affect non-governmental organizations with environmental education programs. The EP&Cs and standards alignment maps are available to non-governmental organizations and other interested parties should they choose to align their environmental education programs to the State’s program.

 

Q: Did the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) provide funding for environmental education programs?

A: No funds were allocated, at the time when the law was initially passed, for the implementation of the EEI. To date, the former California Integrated Waste Management Board, now CalRecycle, has generously supported the development of the EEI Curriculum and school district outreach and education. Support has also been provided by the Department of Conservation, Air Resources Board, Department of Toxic Substances Control, State Water Resources Control Board, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, State and Consumer Services Agency, Natural Resources Agency, and the California Energy Commission. The California Environmental Protection Agency  and CalRecycle have provided staff to implement the EEI.

 

Q: Will additional funding be sought to implement the Education and the Environment Initiative?

A: Yes, a major fundraising campaign is underway to seek funds and in-kind support from governmental, business, and philanthropic sources.

 

Q: Will the Education and the Environment Initiative provide funding for environmental education programs conducted by other agencies or non-governmental organizations?

A: No, the law does not provide for a grant making function as part of the Education and the Environment Initiative.

 

Q: What does it mean to be an “EEI Early Adopter” school district, and what's involved?

A: Between 2006 and 2009, the EEI Curriculum was field and pilot tested in 19 school districts statewide. More than 200 teachers and more than 4,750 K–12 students participated in extensive testing to help shape the EEI Curriculum into the effective environment-based curriculum that it now is.

These same 19 school districts are now being offered support to become “Early Adopters” of the EEI Curriculum. Office of Education and Environment (OEE) staff are conducting Orientations for teachers and district administrators. Access to the EEI Curriculum, options for electronic use and printing, and how to use the EEI Curriculum in conjunction with adopted instructional materials currently in California classrooms is being discussed at the Orientations. Teachers are providing input about the Curriculum regarding the ease of use, alignment to standards, necessary electronic enhancements and more.

These 19 school districts are critically important to the statewide implementation of the EEI Curriculum. The teachers are positioned to support curriculum implementation in their schools and are also eager to serve as model leaders for neighboring districts. They are providing evaluative feedback regarding the curriculum itself and the implementation process. This feedback will shape approaches and recommendations for the rest of the state.

For a list of the 19 school district who field and pilot tested the EEI Curriculum, please see the Field and Pilot Testing Map (PDF).

 

Q: Will outreach occur to all 1,059 school districts in California to encourage implementation of the EEI Curriculum?

A: Yes. California, the Golden State, is home to a diverse population served by 1,059 school districts. Due to the sheer number of school districts, outreach and support is occurring in a four year phased apprach. Cal/EPA, in partnership with the California Department of Education, is informing educators about the availability of the EEI Curriculum. We are working closely with the Early Adopters this school year (2010/2011) to provide teacher professional development, technical assistance and support for the creation of partnerships to help districts with practical needs such as printing or digital access. We will communicate with approximately 80 additional districts in the same timeframe. To meet the goal of 100% of California’s school districts having the opportunity to obtain and implement the EEI Curriculum by 2014, the remaining number of school districts will be reached over the following three years. The phases are:

  • School Year 2010/2011 -- 100 school districts reached
  • School Year 2011/2012 -- 320 school districts reached
  • School Year 2012/2013 -- 320 school districts reached
  • School Year 2013/2014 -- 319 school districts reached

 

 

Back to top | Education and the Environment Initiative Home

 

Contact Us: EEI@calepa.ca.gov or call (916) 341-6769 for further information.
Education and the Environment Initiative, http://www.calepa.ca.gov/Education/EEI/
Last updated: June 25, 2012

FAQs Quick Links