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Why Use Place-based Education? Four answers that emerge from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (Self-study/detailed report version). Prepared by: Michael Duffin, PEER Associates, Inc. Prepared for: the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC)

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Prepared by michael duffin peer associates inc prepared for

Why UsePlace-based Education?Four answers that emerge from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (Self-study/detailed report version)

Prepared by:

Michael Duffin, PEER Associates, Inc.

Prepared for:

the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC)

February 9, 2007

Suggested citation:

Duffin, M., & PEER Associates (2007). Why use place-based education?: Four answers that emerge

from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative, (Self-study/detailed report

version). Retrieved [date] from http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S01248363-01248382


Introduction to this report

Introduction to this Report

  • The purpose of this report is to package several years of evaluation findings into a concise and user friendly format.

  • The intended audience is educators and administrators who want to study the case for the merits of place-based education.

  • All primary information is presented in the main body of the 32 slides, and hyperlinks to additional resources on the web are live.

  • For a more complete picture of the body of evidence presented here, users are strongly encouraged to explore the reports and resources available at www.PEECworks.org.

  • Another version of this report is available which is specifically geared toward presentation to a group audience. That version shifts most of the content from the main body of the slides to the slide notes, available as references to the presenter.


Background context

Background Context

  • What is place-based education (PBE)?

    • Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community. PBE addresses three integrated goals: A) improving student achievement; B) improving community social and economic vitality; and C) improving ecological integrity. For more information, see www.PromiseOfPlace.org.

  • What is PEEC?

    • The Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) is a group of five programs and one foundation that work together to: 1) improve their programs through individual and cross-program evaluation; 2) identify, develop, and disseminate evaluation techniques, tools, and approaches that can be applied to other place-based education providers; and 3) contribute to the research base underlying the field of place-based education and school change. For more information, see www.PEECworks.org.


Overview of the body of evidence

Haley School, Roslindale, MA

Overview of the Body of Evidence

  • Drawing from the following sources of evaluation data:

    • 4 years of individual and cross-program evaluations of 6 place-based education programs representing more than 75 schools (rural, suburban, and urban) in 5 states

    • Over 700 adult interview or focus group participants

    • Over 200 student interview/

      conversation/focus group participants

    • Nearly 650 educator surveys

    • Nearly 1,500 student surveys

    • Extensive document review and

      on-site observations

  • Evidence suggests that…


Overview of the body of evidence1

Haley School, Roslindale, MA

Overview of the Body of Evidence

  • Place-based education can…

    • Invigorate educators

    • Support transformation of school culture

    • Help students learn

    • Engage parents and communities

  • The rest of this report provides a“For instance” for each of these four outcomes, followed in each case by brief snippets of additional examples from the evaluation evidence.


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#1 – PBE can Invigorate EducatorsPlace-based education can help educators become more excited and collaborative in their professional practice, and more likely to use local resources for teaching and learning


Peec cross program survey results 2003 2006 changes in educator practice toward pbe outcomes

Program “Response”

(Measures of Intended Outcome)

Lower Higher

Less More

Program “Dose”

(Exposure + Implementation)

PEEC Cross-Program Survey Results 2003-2006Changes in Educator Practice Toward PBE Outcomes

Best fit line from lower left to upper right suggests program has a significant effect

  • PEEC survey analysis strategy: If participants with less “dose” of the place-based education program report lower outcomes, and those with more dose report higher outcomes, then the program is likely to be an active ingredient

#1 – PBE can Invigorate Educators


Peec cross program survey results 2003 2006 changes in educator practice toward pbe outcomes1

PEEC Cross-Program Survey Results 2003-2006Changes in Educator Practice Toward PBE Outcomes

  • PEEC survey analysis strategy: If participants with less “dose” of the place-based education program report lower outcomes, and those with more dose report higher outcomes, then the program is likely to be an active ingredient

  • 671 educator surveys

  • Very diverse sample

  • Averages from an aggregate of 12 survey items show PEEC dose accounts for 17% of variance in Overall Educator Practice

  • (For comparison, weight status accounts for 17-19% of the costs of cardiovascular disease)

#1 – PBE can Invigorate Educators


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ONE EXAMPLE: Forest For Every Classroom program helps second grade teacher(s) from the Ray School in Hanover, NH(For complete details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S00106777-006037E7)

For instance

  • A second grade teacher participates in a year-long professional development program [FFEC] designed to provide the tools (including confidence and leadership skills) to integrate the local forest into the traditional content areas

  • The next year, that teacher arranges for a summer workshop to be provided to her fellow teachers by FFEC

  • One result is that the second grade curriculum is redesigned around using the local forest. “Using the out-doors as a teaching and learning resource was previously only done by teacher choice. Now it is a school plan.”

  • “FFEC gave me the peers on a professional level outside my school to recharge and to update my knowledge and content and gave me some connections with other teachers. It was that link that gave me the push to get the science committee to commit to the outdoor-focused curriculum.”

  • As a result of her colleague’s participation in FFEC, another second grade teacher reports, “We have been energized to do more in the area of backyard science because we realize that we CAN!”

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

#1 – PBE can Invigorate Educators


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Other examples of place-based educators reporting increased engagement, collaboration, and professional growth(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

 More

  • The Trail To Every Classroom [another PEEC program] is adapting the place-based education model of a Forest For Every Classroom for schools along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. After a week long TTEC summer institute, an educator says:

    “I think of this work as a big ball, and I have to push it up this big hill. But the more I think about it, it’s like a little snowball at the top of the hill and all you have to do is push it, and then it builds and builds. It has its own momentum. It takes care of itself, even with all the obstacles along the way.”

  • After being recognized with two state level teaching awards, an educator claims:

    “Because of CO-SEED [another PEEC program] I’ll never again be the same teacher. And I say that because it’s absolutely a life-confirming positive search. It’s transformed my whole vision about how I teach my kids. It gave me the tools, it gave me the vision, it gave me the opportunity. The results are just phenomenal. Between writing and reading the kids are hooked, and I will never ever teach the same again.”

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

#1 – PBE can Invigorate Educators


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Other examples of place-based educators reporting increased engagement, collaboration, and professional growth(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

 More

  • Approximately two-thirds of PEEC educators surveyed report additional place-based education training being directly inspired by their participation in the place-based education activities of their PEEC program

  • Providing release time for collaborative planning among grade level teams of educators becomes a key cause and effect of results from the CO-SEED program

  • The Sustainable Schools Project [another PEEC program] supports Critical Friends Groups to foster shared learning among participating educators

  • The Litzsinger Road Ecology Center in St. Louis [another PEEC program] increases staffing in response to evaluation data suggesting that educators participating in their place-based programs wanted even more in depth engagement

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

#1 – PBE can Invigorate Educators


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#2 – PBE can Transform CulturePlace-based education can actively shape and become embedded in a school’s culture and identity


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ONE EXAMPLE: CO-SEED helps Haley Elementary in Boston achieve their goal of becoming a model environmental school(For complete details, see http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S00FE7771-0100A9B6)

For instance 

  • After three years of systemic place-based education at this public elementary in the South Boston area…

  • The schoolyard, a nearby nature center, and other local natural areas become a “second classroom,” and inspire increased parent involvement

  • Science teaching and learning become enthusiastically embraced by nearly all teachers and students

  • 88% of educators surveyed agree that “Place-based education is a part of the cultural fabric of our school.” “’Ahh ha’ moments are slowly but surely infiltrating all of the other minds of the other teachers.” “I think the mentality is really part of our identity. It’s who we are.”

  • Surveys show very large, statistically significant gains in nearly all intended outcomes over the three year period

  • Ability to continue the work of environmental, outdoor science becomes a key criteria for hiring a new principal

  • All available slots are filled with incoming students whose parents indicated Haley as their top or second choice school in Boston (as compared to the previous history of the Haley as largely under-subscribed)

  • Several prior years of hard work under skillful leadership prepared this school for a place-based education program that became a “catalyst” for positive school wide change

Haley School, Roslindale, MA

#2 – PBE can Transform Culture


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Analysis of data across PEEC programs reveals a “Tipping Point” pattern of culture change at multiple sites (For complete details, see http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S0019440A)

More 

  • The Sustainable Schools Project and Project CO-SEED are both PEEC programs that work intentionally with a whole school (as opposed to professional development model programs that work with individual teachers)

  • After two or more years of SSP or CO-SEED, survey data show positive, statistically significant results (both descriptive “pre-post” and inferential “dose-response”) strongly suggesting meeting intended program outcomes

  • Educators who are newer to a school and/or who have had less individual exposure to specific elements of the place-based education program tend to report similarly high outcomes as veterans of the school or program

  • This suggests that the intended outcomes are being transmitted through the norms and culture of the school as much or more than by direct exposure to the program

  • This interpretation is reinforced by follow up qualitative data, with claims from educators such as:

    “Now it’s just part of the culture of the school.”

    “Collaboration is now kind of a built in thing.”

    “[Veteran teachers] sweep these new people up and into the theme, the culture of the school. The new person seems to be able to go with it because of the comfort level.”

Haley School, Roslindale, MA

#2 – PBE can Transform Culture


3 pbe can help students learn place based education can help students with academic achievement

#3 – PBE can Help Students LearnPlace-based education can help students with academic achievement


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Ten studies from across the United States connect place-based education and student academic achievement (For a user-friendly review, see http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Research/S0032637E)

  • Collectively these studies cover 16 states, 265 schools, are fairly recent (1998-2005), and employ various combinations of standardized test scores, interviews, observations, demographics, and document review

  • None is entirely convincing as a stand alone, but as a group they present a fairly coherent and compelling picture of improved achievement

  • American Institutes of Research. (2005). Effects of Outdoor Education Programs forChildren in California. Sacramento. Retrieved March 15, 2005 from http://www.sierraclub.org/insidetheoutdoors/downloads/outdoorschool_finalreport.pdf

  • Athman, Julie & Monroe, Martha. (2004). The effects of environment-based education on students’ achievement motivation. Journal of Interpretation Research, 9(1): 9-25.

  • Bartosh, O. (2004). Environmental education: Improving student achievement. Unpublished master's thesis, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington. Retrieved February 4, 2007 from http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Research/S0032637E-010702FB

  • Danforth, P. (2005). An evaluation of the National Wildlife Federation’s Schoolyard Habitat Program in the Houston Independent School District. Unpublished master’s thesis, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.

  • Emekauwa, E. (2004). They remember what they touch: The impact of place-based learning in East Feliciana parish. Rural School and Community Trust. Retrieved November 16, 2005 from http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Research/0009D4FB-007EA7AB.0/Emekauwa%20East%20Feliciana%202004.pdf

  • Ernst, Julie Athman & Monroe, Martha. (2004). The effect of environment-based education on student’ critical thinking skills and disposition toward critical thinking. Environmental Education Research, 10(4): 507-522.

  • Falco, E. (2004). Environment-based education: Improving attitudes and academics for adolescents. Retrieved November 3, 2005 from http://www.myscschools.com/Offices/CSO/enved/docments/EducationUsingtheEnvironmentFINAL2004_000.doc

  • Liebermann, J., & Hoody, L. (1998). Closing the achievement gap: Using the environment as an integrating context for learning. State Education and Environment Roundtable, San Diego, CA.

  • National Environmental Education Training Foundation (NEETF). (2000). Environment-based education: Creating high performance schools and students. Retrieved October 1, 2004 from http://neetf.org/pubs/NEETF8400.pdf

  • State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER). (2000). California Student Assessment Project: The Effects of Environment-based Education on Student Achievement. Retrieved July 14, 2005 from http://www.seer.org/pages/csap.pdf

  • Note that this list does not include any of the large number of studies on service-learning, which is a frequent, often powerful component of PBE.

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ONE PEEC EXAMPLE: First Grade Academic Achievementas a Function of CO-SEED/ Experiential Units(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

For instance 

  • The principal of Young Achievers school in Boston says “One thing we know is that kids’ writing is much more interesting, complex, and detailed if they’ve had rich experience…The current first grade has about a third of the kids who didn’t have Kindergarten here and in general it is breathtaking the difference in the academic achievement. Our Kindergarten has the strongest place-based education in the school, especially with language development.” First grade is also strong.

  • We compared first graders with one versus two years of exposure to strong place-based teachers on three measures tracked in a local assessment database

Young Achievers School, Jamaica Plain, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ONE PEEC EXAMPLE: First Grade Academic Achievementas a Function of CO-SEED/ Experiential Units(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

For instance 

  • First graders with more in-depth place-based education outperformed peers on all measures

Young Achievers School, Jamaica Plain, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ONE PEEC EXAMPLE: First Grade Academic Achievementas a Function of CO-SEED/ Experiential Units(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

For instance 

  • First graders with more in-depth place-based education outperformed peers on all measures

Young Achievers School, Jamaica Plain, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ONE PEEC EXAMPLE: First Grade Academic Achievementas a Function of CO-SEED/ Experiential Units(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

For instance 

  • First graders with more in-depth place-based education outperformed peers on all measures

Young Achievers School, Jamaica Plain, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ANOTHER PEEC EXAMPLE: Effects of CO-SEED onStandardized Test Scores (MCAS) at theBeebe Health & Environmental Magnet School(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

  • CO-SEED worked with Beebe 1999-2003, helped secure funding to continue work 2002-2005

  • Several lines of evidence suggest that the environmental theme has become embedded in the school culture with key help from CO-SEED

  • Before analyzing MCAS scores (Fall 2005), staff predicted that Beebe would deviate from the typical pattern and increase performance relative to district and/or state in four content areas

More

Beebe School, Malden, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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ANOTHER PEEC EXAMPLE: Effects of CO-SEED onStandardized Test Scores (MCAS) at theBeebe Health & Environmental Magnet School(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

  • Typical pattern: state performs highest, then Beebe, then district

More

Beebe School, Malden, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


Prepared by michael duffin peer associates inc prepared for

ANOTHER PEEC EXAMPLE: Effects of CO-SEED onStandardized Test Scores (MCAS) at theBeebe Health & Environmental Magnet School(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

  • Typical pattern: state performs highest, then Beebe, then district

  • Analysis of deviations from the typical pattern supported predictions for increased performance in three out of four content areas

More

Beebe School, Malden, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


Prepared by michael duffin peer associates inc prepared for

ANOTHER PEEC EXAMPLE: Effects of CO-SEED onStandardized Test Scores (MCAS) at theBeebe Health & Environmental Magnet School(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

  • Typical pattern: state performs highest, then Beebe, then district

  • Analysis of deviations from the typical pattern supported predictions for increased performance in three out of four content areas

More

Beebe School, Malden, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


Prepared by michael duffin peer associates inc prepared for

ANOTHER PEEC EXAMPLE: Effects of CO-SEED onStandardized Test Scores (MCAS) at theBeebe Health & Environmental Magnet School(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

  • Typical pattern: state performs highest, then Beebe, then district

  • Analysis of deviations from the typical pattern supported predictions for increased performance in three out of four content areas

More

Beebe School, Malden, MA

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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Student Engagement in Learning (index)

From CO-SEED educator surveys, 2003-2004

Educator Reports of

Student Engagement in Learning

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

Dosage of CO-SEED

Other examples of place-based educationhelping students learn more or better(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

More 

  • Educators across PEEC sites consistently report increased student engagement in learning. For example…

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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Student Attachment to Place (module)

From PEEC student surveys, 2003-2004

Student Reports of

Attachment to Place

Dosage of PEEC program

Other examples of place-based educationhelping students learn more or better(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

More 

  • On surveys aggregated across PEEC programs, students report increased place attachment (which includes their reports of time spent outdoors)

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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Other examples of place-based educationhelping students learn more or better(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

More 

  • The following quote from an educator participating in the Litzsinger Road Ecology Center captures the core sentiment:

    “My kids were so excited about the things that they saw that I know they will look more and pay closer attention to our environment. Actually visiting the ecosystems helped them really understand the concepts that I was trying to get across.”

Gilford Elementary School, Gilford, NH

#3 – PBE can Help Students Learn


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#4 – PBE can Engage CommunitiesPlace-based education can help engage youth in their community andconnect communities to their schools


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Barnes Elementary, Burlington, VT

ONE EXAMPLE: Students in Burlington, VT help revitalize a neighborhood street as part of the Sustainable Schools Project(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

For instance

  • As part of the HealthyNeighborhoods/Healthy Kids element of SSP, fourth and fifth graders observe and document features of their community with a “neighborhood report card”

  • During the North Street revitalization effort, Barnes Elementary students noted a lack of safety signs alerting people to the existence of a school zone along this part of the urban core in which their school resides

  • Students went to the director of public works for help, but were put off by claims of a lengthy action process

  • Students persisted, essentially saying “You’re the boss, can’t we get these signs in?” and the director changed course and expedited sign installation

  • A teacher: “[Our students] are very comfortable now with business owners, extremely comfortable with the Mayor, with the City Council, and with the Neigh-borhood Planning Committee because they’ve spoken there. And when they go to speak, people listen.”

  • A parent: “Sustainability involves strengthening the relationships between a community and a project, such that eventually the project naturally happens on its own because the entire community is so invested in its success.”

  • SSP staff: “All of the city groups and officials had nothing but good to say about the students …and referred to [them] as the future city government.”

#4 – PBE can Engage Communities


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Barnes Elementary, Burlington, VT

Other examples of place-based educationconnecting youth to their communities(For more details, see http://www.PEECworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports)

 More

  • Students participating in the Community Mapping Program [a former PEEC program] help save an ailing community farmer’s market by networking buyers and sellers with maps and the internet

  • The student-initiated recycling program at the Beebe school outside of Boston [a CO-SEED site] becomes noticed and replicated by municipal officials

  • After several successful school-community collaborations (e.g. passage of a bond issue attributed in part to student presentations on closing the local landfill, a student-designed system to divert waste heat to winter sidewalks and reduce salt use, and others), the town manger in Littleton, NH [a CO-SEED site] says: “There is not a town project that I do now where I don’t start with ‘How can we involve the students?’”

  • The Trail To Every Classroom project uses service-learning to connect educators, students, and community members to each and to thousands of miles of the Appalachian Trail.

    “Before I came [to TTEC], I thought of [the AT] as a very individual thing. I might go out and hike on it, and I thought of it as for ‘me.’ Now it’s something that I can’t wait to go out and share with the kids, with the community. I want other people to see what a great resource it is.”

#4 – PBE can Engage Communities


Review

Woodsville Elementary School, Woodsville, NH

Dearborn Middle School, Roxbury, MA

Young Achievers School, Jamaica Plain, MA

FFEC training, VT

Review

  • Drawing from several years of data from PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative, evidence suggests that place-based education can…

    • Invigorate educators

    • Support transformation

      of school culture

    • Help students learn

    • Engage parents and communities


Prepared by michael duffin peer associates inc prepared for

Why UsePlace-based Education?Four answers that emerge from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (Self-study/detailed report version)

Prepared by:

Michael Duffin, PEER Associates, Inc.

Prepared for:

the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC)

February 9, 2007

Suggested citation:

Duffin, M., & PEER Associates (2007). Why use place-based education?: Four answers that emerge

from the findings of PEEC, the Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative, (Self-study/detailed report

version). Retrieved [date] from http://www.peecworks.org/PEEC/PEEC_Reports/S01248363-01248382


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