Taylor & Francis (USA)

Biodiversity Curriculum that Supports Education Reform

The demands of education reform in many states are constraining the time teachers have to prepare and teach new activities. Therefore, it would behoove environmental educators developing supplemental curricular materials to use their concepts to augment state reform goals. This study suggests that a biodiversity curriculum guide, using the Linking Florida’s Natural Heritage database, successfully infuses environmental concepts with the writing benchmarks of Florida’s Sunshine State Standards (SSS). When measured by the same rubric used for the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT), writing skills rose significantly after students used the five lesson biodiversity supplement.

In 1983, when A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, it lit a long fuse that sparked education reform throughout the United States (Hunt & Staton, 1996). Administrators responded to the public and political demand for accountability in a number of ways, many of which placed an increased burden on the shoulders of teachers. Across the country, states developed curricular guidelines to standardize teaching. States also designed performance tests to measure student achievement and how well teachers convey the standardized curricula. Some schools required teachers to justify what they taught by recording all of the standards they met in each of their lessons. As teachers responded to the pressures of these standards and tests, some reported they had little time to explore projects and activities that took the students beyond the standard requirements (Easton & Monroe, 2000).

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