Stakeholders from across the state came together in 2014 to collaborate and launch the outdoor school assessment and evaluation program called Outdoor School for All! Diverse Programming and Outcomes in Oregon, an all-inclusive project with generous support from Gray Family Foundation. The purpose was to build an ongoing understanding of and knowledge about outdoor school programming and its intended outcomes. The data gathered in this project, and in the 2018 continuation of the project funded by the OSU Outdoor School program, support several elements of the statewide program, including:
To equitably include all students in outdoor school, the OSU Outdoor School program must continuously work with outdoor school stakeholders to listen to and respond to the specific needs in every community in Oregon. We must openly communicate with parents, guardians, students, teachers, and all other stakeholders to understand the unique needs of each community. Oregon’s outdoor schools must remain flexible and adapt and adjust their programs, outreach, curriculum, and materials to meet their communities’ needs. Programming must also remain fluid and may look different from week to week as individual community needs change and transform.
* Average values shown for composite scores of each outcome (n≥3310) for 5th/6th grade students.
** Average values shown for composite scores of each outcome (n≥1495) for 5th/6th grade students.
I want to spend more time outdoors without technology ... Unplug from the weight of the world! I want to take care of nature more too.
In 2022, the Outdoor School program invited Oregon’s outdoor school providers to help us measure how much outdoor school influences students. We measured this using a common set of classifications (or outcomes) across different types of outdoor school programs. The providers helped us by giving our survey to students at the end of their outdoor school experience. The following graphs show that the pandemic affected students and their experience at outdoor school. As the graphs on this page show, the 2022 pandemic) results were lower in all 12 outcomes than the results of 2019 (pre-pandemic) years. The largest difference was in students’ self-efficacy, which relates to emotional health and positive choices. While these results are of concern, they also show that outdoor school continues to positively affect students in many ways. We’re confident that these positive effects will continue to increase/improve as outdoor school, and school in general, return to their fully functional states.
As shown in the wood-cookie charts, more than half of students attending outdoor school in 2019 (before the start of the pandemic) reported that their outdoor school experience would motivate them to do something different in their lives (was a transformative experience). In Spring 2022 (after the start of the pandemic) this percentage decreased notably. However, in both years the influence of outdoor school was significantly greater than a typical week of school (as measured before the start of the pandemic).
 While we wanted to measure student outcomes every year, we cancelled the 2021 survey because of the pandemic.
Students were asked five questions: “During the program I felt ...
... free to be myself
... safe, welcome and respected
... an important part of a community
... supported by adults at outdoor school”
Our 2021-2022 results suggest that students who identify as Black (includes African American, African and Caribbean) and Trans or Nonbinary feel less included than their peers. These results are consistent with previous years’ evaluations, highlighting our need to continue our work in the following two areas.
 See Egalite, A. J., Kisida, B., & Winters, M. A. (2015). Representation in the classroom: The effect of own-race teachers on student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 45, 44-52.
For more information on this project, including results and methods, see Braun, S.M. (2020) Outdoor School for All: Diverse Programming and Outcomes in Oregon: 2019 Evaluation Report.