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University of Colorado Denver, Newsroom

Green Schools and students’ science scores are related

CU Denver study shows positive correlation between green school practices and student achievement

2/29/2012
Green Schools National Network conference


By Erika Matich | University Communications

DENVER - A nationwide survey shows a positive correlation between Green School practices and student achievement in science. The study was conducted by the University of Colorado Denver's Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences.  And presented Wednesday at the Green Schools National Network conference in Denver.

Schools that took part in the survey observe GreenPrint core practices as defined by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN).  The core practices are:

  • Curriculum that advances environmental literacy and sustainability
  • Stewardship and service learning
  • Sustainable facilities design and management
  • Health and well being
  • Strong partnerships and networks

The results of the survey suggest that as schools implement Green¬Print core practices at higher levels, student achievement in science tends to show improvement.  Approximately 100 schools from 28 states took part in the survey. Student achievement data was gathered from most recent state and district assessment scores in science via state department of education websites as well as the survey.

Participating schools were divided into four regions based on the United States Census Classification system.  The regions are West, South, Midwest and Northeast. An average survey score was calculated for each region.  Schools from the Midwest had the highest aver¬age survey score at 64 percent.  The score for schools in the West, including 16 from Colorado, was 55 percent. Schools from the South scored 58 percent and schools in the Northeast scored 49 percent.

"The green movement is relatively young when it comes to schools," said Bryan Shao-Chang Wee, PhD, assistant professor of environmental science education. "We learned several things that will be valuable in continuing to collect data and validating this preliminary online survey."

In order to help establish the importance of green schools in the United States, Wee and his team of researchers would like to do further research by refining the survey and obtaining a larger sample. Researchers would also like to visit green schools for data collection and to evaluate whether the GreenPrint core practices have any correlation to subjects such as reading, writing, social studies and math.

"One more important element moving forward is refining the GreenPrint core practices. We need to accurately define the criteria for measuring these practices so schools can accurately report and gauge their success on the survey," said Hillary Mason, a graduate researcher on the team.

The study was presented at the 2nd annual Green Schools National Network conference in Denver and was collectively funded by the GSNN and CU Denver.

The University of Colorado Denver offers more than 120 degrees and programs in 13 schools and colleges and serves more than 28,000 students.  Visit us online at www.ucdenver.edu 

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Contact: erika.matich@ucdenver.edu, 303-524-2780

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