Ten Strands By the Numbers

By Karen Cowe|July 24, 2014

We’ve just completed our first full school year of partnering with the Office of Education and the Environment (OEE) at CalRecycle and the results are in!

Our focus last year was to increase awareness of the Education and Environment Initiative Curriculum (EEIC) among California teachers, curriculum leaders, and administrators, and encourage more teachers to introduce standards and environment-based lessons (via the EEIC) to their students.

We also expanded the professional development options for the EEIC by developing and offering a series of webinars as an alternative to on-site workshops. Additionally, we wrapped up a huge project to correlate the EEIC to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and embarked on a similar project for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Finally, we carefully tracked the state’s process for the 2016 revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools K-12 and advocated for the inclusion of California’s Environmental Principles & Concepts (EP&Cs) into the framework, including recognition of the EEIC as a curriculum that successfully models the EP&Cs. Look forward to more details about progress on this front in a future blog post!

Prior to beginning the above work, we spent last spring and summer putting systems in place to carefully track interest in the EEIC expressed by educators.

So how did we (Ten Strands and OEE) do?

140724 Ten Strands by Numbers Chart


We increased web traffic to the EEI web site by 330% during the school year.

Over 6,700 teachers and administrators expressed initial interest in the EEIC.

We provided professional development opportunities—online and on-site combined—to approximately 2,300 teachers via over 100 events.

Over 3,000 new teachers received their first EEIC unit and enough student materials to teach their students.

We shipped over 145,000 student units during the 2013-14 school year.

If you’ve been tracking the math above, you’ll note that 3,000 teachers of the 6,700 who expressed initial interest have already received materials. This means 3,700 teachers are in process and working with us to arrange their professional development and implementation plans. If the average number of students remains constant, then these teachers in process represent about another 166,500 students. With new teachers expressing interest every day we believe that by the end of December 2014 we will reach approximately 250,000 students—our first quarter million students and a major milestone!

It’s one thing to deliver materials to teachers and students and quite another to learn about their successful use in the classroom. As of mid-June 2014, 1,102 teachers had returned survey forms after participating in an EEIC training session and then teaching at least one EEIC unit in their classrooms.

Their post-training-and-teaching evaluations show that the program is working:

  • 85% reported that their students were “more” or “much more” engaged by the EEIC compared to their previous instructional materials. Almost all the rest (another 13%) said their students found the materials equally engaging.
  • 79% answered that they were sure the EEIC helped them teach Common Core English Language Arts and Literacy standards. Only 2% reported that they were sure it did not.
  • 97% wrote that they plan to continue using the EEIC in the future.
  • 97% reported that they would recommend it to other teachers.
  • Of the 714 respondents who indicated that they teach English Language Learners, 94% reported that the curriculum’s dictionaries, word wall cards, readers and other materials effectively served the needs of their ELL students.

That data reinforces the results of an independent survey of 500 EEIC teachers in 2012, which showed that 98% felt the curriculum was as effective or even more effective than traditional instructional materials in bringing students to mastery in core subject areas (not just in environmental knowledge). 85% of teachers in the 2012 survey reported that their students found the curriculum engaging or highly engaging (the same percentage as in the 2014 survey), and 90% reported that the EEIC gave students a better understanding of the environment.

Using the EEIC also inspired students to take action to reduce their ecological footprint. After using the curriculum approximately two-thirds of classrooms used water and energy conservation practices, and 75% actively recycled. The great majority of these conservation efforts were launched after learning about the environment through EEIC lessons. Teachers also noted that the curriculum was particularly effective in addressing the needs of English Language Learners.

Below is a video that was written and filmed by students from Jim Bentley’s classroom.  Jim is a teacher from the Elk Grove Unified School District who designed this assignment as an enhancement to the EEI Unit “Made from Earth: How Natural Resources Become the Things We Use.”



We couldn’t be happier with last year’s results and we’re busy planning our work with OEE for the upcoming school year.

We plan to continue our outreach to teachers and administrators, and we’ll be following the data we’re collecting to determine which schools and districts are interested in a deep implementation of the EEIC across multiple grade levels and schools. We look forward to partnering with interested districts to deepen the work by providing CCSS and NGSS focused professional development opportunities, and facilitating the connection to informal providers of environment-based education for schools.

To that end, we’ll be attending a workshop this Thursday organized by ChangeScale. The focus will be Collaboration for Greater Impact. The workshop is intended to build capacity for multi-organization teams to collaborate by providing techniques, strategies, and group time for action planning. The workshop will also lay the foundation for an ongoing learning community around collaboration and environmental education pathway development. We’ve put a team together from Ten Strands, the Office of Education and the Environment, San Mateo County Office of Education, Pie Ranch, RecycleWorks, PEAK, and Project Learning Tree. The timing couldn’t be better given our focus for the 2014-2015 school year.

Karen Cowe
This article was written by Karen Cowe

Karen Cowe is an education-industry executive with over 30 years of experience in sales and fund development, marketing, program design, professional learning, business development, and operations. Prior to joining Ten Strands, she was president and chief executive officer of Key Curriculum Press, an innovative and award-winning K–12 STEM publisher. Before that, she was managing director of Burlington Books in Athens, Greece—the first publisher in Greece to offer locally-focused English language instructional materials for Greek students. In addition to her understanding of the complexities of the US education landscape, she has valuable insights into education in other nations, having built relationships in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Karen holds a bachelor in business and a minor in education from Saint John’s College, York and a master of business administration from Saint Mary’s College, California.