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California Outdoor Schools Association

Information about the California Outdoor Schools Association, a statewide network of outdoor schools and faculty that are managed by local educational agencies (LEAs).

Purpose

The California Outdoor Schools Association (COSA), established in 1978, is a statewide group of outdoor school principals, directors, and county office personnel who have the unique experience and expertise to accurately assess the quality of an outdoor program and its facilities. Committed to finding ways to make the outdoor school experience available to all students, COSA utilizes Residential Outdoor Science School (ROSS) certifications to ensure a high quality academic, safe, and appropriate learning environment for fourth through seventh grade students served in California’s Outdoor Schools. It is dedicated to ensuring that all students in California have the opportunity to participate in an outdoor school experience as delineated in California Education Code Sections 8760–8774.

COSA Residential Outdoor Science School Certification

COSA Programs go through a Residential Outdoor Science School (ROSS) certification process every five years that is similar to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) or Program Quality Review (PQR) and it is recognized by the California Department of Education (CDE) as an evaluation tool. The certification process consists of a pre-assessment by the site administrators and teaching staff, the two day and one night site visit made by a three or four person member COSA team, and the written report. Site certifications ensure that outdoor schools are meeting the criteria in the ROSS guide through direct observation by a non-biased group of outside administrators.

Components of the ROSS Certification Process

Modeled after the processes of WASC and PQR, the ROSS certification process consists of self-studies by site administration as well as a visitation by a group of outside administrators. The duration of the visit is two days and one night. Since outdoor schools have programs and activities that continue into the evening hours, it is necessary for overnight trips. The certification process is extensive, focusing on all programming aspects including, but not limited to, human resources, curriculum alignment with state content standards, food service, facilities management, health and safety, assessment, and transportation. The certifications are scheduled by the program to be certified during the school year between September and June. Funding from the CDE helps support an average of three to eight certifications annually.

Additional Information

Local Educational Agency Outdoor School Web site

Clovis Unified School District

Sierra Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

Kern County Office of Education

Kern Environmental Education Program External link opens in new window or tab.

Los Angeles County Office of Education

Outdoor and Marine Science Field Study External link opens in new window or tab.

Los Angeles Unified School District

Office of Outdoor and Environmental Education External link opens in new window or tab.

Marin County Office of Education

Walker Creek Ranch External link opens in new window or tab.

Merced County Office of Education

Camp Green Meadows Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

Sacramento County Office of Education

Sly Park Environmental Education Center External link opens in new window or tab.

San Diego County Office of Education

Cuyamaca Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

San Joaquin County Office of Education

Outdoor Education External link opens in new window or tab.

San Luis Obispo County Office of Education

Rancho El Chorro Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

San Mateo County Office of Education

San Mateo Outdoor Education External link opens in new window or tab.

Santa Clara County Office of Education

Walden West External link opens in new window or tab.

Santa Cruz County Office of Education

Outdoor Science School External link opens in new window or tab.

Shasta County Office of Education

Whiskeytown Environmental School External link opens in new window or tab.

Siskiyou County Office of Education

French Creek Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

Stanislaus County Office of Education

Foothill Horizons Outdoor School External link opens in new window or tab.

Sutter County Superintendent of Schools

Shady Creek Outdoor School and Event Center External link opens in new window or tab.

Tulare County Office Education

The Clemmie Gill School of Science and Conservation External link opens in new window or tab.

 

Questions: Shannon Gordon | sgordon@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0190 
Last Reviewed: Thursday, April 5, 2018