Years of Progress

EEI: An Unprecedented Initiative

The EEI is a result of legislative action that was signed into California law by Governor Gray Davis in 2003 (Pavley, AB 1548, Chapter 665, Statutes of 2003) and supported and funded by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in both 2005 and 2008. The EEI law was authored by Senator Fran Pavley and was sponsored by Heal the Bay, a non-profit environmental organization based in Southern California, who have remained valuable partners in the EEI’s multi-year development effort. The EEI is codified in law in the California Education Code and the California Public Resources Code. The key mandates are:

  • Development of Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C).
  • Development of a K–12 model curriculum.
  • Alignment of this curriculum and its foundational EP&C to California’s Academic Content Standards.
  • Incorporation of the EP&C into textbook adoption criteria.
  • Approval of the model curriculum by the State Board of Education.
  • Coordination and collaboration with the State’s educational agencies (State Board of Education, Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, and the California Department of Education) and the California Natural Resources Agency.
  • Electronic availability of the model curriculum, including posting on the Internet.
  • Coordination and oversight of all State-created, K–12 environmental education-related materials.

“Today’s students are the decision makers of tomorrow. Environment-based education is more than simply connecting concepts to required subject areas—Science, History, and Language Arts. It puts education in a context that is relevant for students in the communities where they live. This can be a significant motivating factor in the learning process.”
—Governor Gray Davis, 2003

Years of Progress

2004: Development of California’s Environmental Principles & Concepts
The foundational Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C) were developed by more than 100 scientists and technical experts. These concepts examine the interactions and interdependence of human societies and natural systems. Diverse interest groups including universities, industry, environmental organizations, and educators, collaborated and identified what students should understand about their relationship with the environment.

2005: Standards Alignment and Development of a Model Curriculum Plan
In accordance with the Law’s requirements, a thorough standards alignment of the EP&C to California’s Academic Content Standards in both Science and History/Social Science, K–12, was accomplished. This alignment identified the strongest links between standards and the EP&C, and resulted in environmental-based learning objectives. This formed the structure for a Model Curriculum Plan, the roadmap for development of the EEI Curriculum.

2006–2009: EEI Curriculum Development
Working hand-in-hand with the CDE and other partners to produce the EEI Curriculum, Cal/EPA relied on a diverse, statewide team of writers, editors, graphic designers, photo researchers, technical reviewers, and teachers. This ambitious undertaking has culminated in an 85-unit, K–12 curriculum that:

  • Is California State Board of Education approved.
  • Is comprehensive and innovative.
  • Teaches academic content standards to mastery for Science and History-Social Science while supporting English Language Arts standards.
  • Does not place an extra burden on teachers.
  • Offers teachers alternative lessons to teach the content of their subject matter.
  • Fits with established assessment practices.
  • Creates links to valuable resources in local communities.

2007–2008: Field/Pilot-Testing the Curriculum in Schools
More than 200 teachers and 4,750 students—in 19 school districts from the North Coast to the Inland Empire—field and pilot-tested the EEI Curriculum. These teachers offered valuable feedback regarding the curriculum content and classroom use. Evaluation of the curriculum, its use in the classroom, and reaction of students was consistently positive.

2009: Independent Review of the EEI Curriculum
The EEI Curriculum was independently reviewed under the auspices of the Curriculum Development & Supplemental Materials Commission and State Board of Education. Mirroring the textbook adoption review process with some customization, the curriculum was put under a microscope by a combination of teachers and content experts. Following independent review and structured group deliberations, necessary edits, corrections, and changes were identified and approved.

January & March 2010: State Board of Education Curriculum Approval
The SBE unanimously approved the EEI Curriculum for use in schools statewide. This action is unprecedented nationally and positions California at the forefront of environment-based education with a curriculum ready for use in the classroom.

The EEI Today

EEI is preparing our students to lead a sustainable and prosperous future. Cal/EPA is actively implementing the EEI Law in California, advancing a model for the rest of the nation and abroad. We are sharing the EEI Curriculum in classrooms across the state, training teachers for classroom use and developing evaluation tools to measure success.

“It’s all part of looking ahead a generation and saying ‘What are our children going to need to know?’“
 —Dr. Charles T. Munger, Jr., Physicist, Stanford University


Contact Us: or call (916) 341-6769 for further information.
Education and the Environment Initiative,
Last updated: June 25, 2012

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