By Catherine Gewertz on June 21, 2011
Maryland has become the first state in the country to require students to be “environmentally literate” in order to graduate from high school.
Today’s vote by the Maryland board of education requires that students get a “comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education” before receiving a diploma. Districts will have to develop plans for coursework that meets state standards in environmental literacy and have their plans approved by the state superintendent of schools. They will also have to develop ways to assess students’ mastery of the material in order to determine if they are eligible for graduation.
The action today follows a decision by the board last summer to require that students get a bigger dose of environmental literacy than they had been getting in typical science classes. There was some confusion, however, about whether that action actually made environmental literacy a graduation requirement. Today’s vote was intended to clear up that confusion and make the requirement official.