Service-Learning Frequently Asked Questions

Maryland’s Service-Learning Graduation Requirement

What is service-learning?

Service-learning is an instructional strategy that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. Students improve their academic and civic skills by applying what they learn in school to the real world. Students then reflect on their experiences to reinforce the link between their service and their learning. 

Service-learning is a form of civic education that provides student with opportunities to explore what it means to be an active, engaged citizen. 

I’m new to Maryland. What do I/my child need to do to meet the service-learning graduation requirement?

Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. There is also a Service-Learning Implementation Plan created by every school system which outlines exactly how students will meet the requirement in that system. 

How many hours of service do I/my child need to earn in order to fulfill the service-learning graduation requirement?

Maryland students must engage in 75 hours of service-learning at a minimum in order to receive a Maryland State High School Diploma. Check with the local school system in which you/your child is enrolled for specific information on how service-learning hours are earned and recorded in that system.

I/my child attend(s) a private school in Maryland, so what is the requirement for service-learning for private schools?

Students enrolled in private schools in Maryland do not receive a Maryland Public School diploma and are not required to complete the Maryland Public School service-learning graduation requirement.  
Many private schools have created requirements for students to engage with the community and participate in service projects. Please check with your private school for details.

I/my child attend(s) attends Home School in Maryland, so what is the requirement for service-learning for Home Schooled students?

Students who are participating in Maryland Home Instruction are not required to meet the Maryland graduation requirement of engaging in at least 75 hours of service-learning.


I/my child attend(s) a charter school in Maryland, so what is the requirement for service-learning for charter schools?

Maryland Charter School students obtain Maryland Public School diplomas upon successful completion of all Maryland graduation requirements.  The charter school in which students are enrolled should have a plan in place for helping students meet the 75 hour service-learning graduation requirement. Please check with your charter school for details.

There are service-learning hours on my report card/my child’s report card. I’m not sure how those hours were earned as no service projects were performed in the community after school. Why are those hours showing up?

Many service-learning projects are incorporated into classes during the school day as a form of experiential and civic education. These projects meet existing curriculum goals and objectives while allowing students to apply the academic knowledge they are learning to the real world.

For example, in a science class where students are studying the environment they will design service projects that address an area of environmental need specific to their community such as creating a rain garden or stream buffer zone, raising oysters or terrapins to release in the wild, growing bay grasses in their classrooms and planting them where needed, removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants, implementing strategies to reduce plastic waste and conserve energy, etc.
 
Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. There is also a Service-Learning Implementation Plan created by every school system which outlines exactly how students will meet the requirement in that system. 

Are student receiving special services through either a 504 Plan or IEP exempt from competing service-learning?

No. All students benefit from service-learning and exploring the ways in which they can be  active citizens and support their communities. It can be empowering for special education students, who are often the recipients of service, to become providers of service and discover the valuable ways that can contribute to the health and well-being of their community.

Are students in special education receiving a certificate instead of a diploma exempt from engaging in service-learning?

No. All students benefit from service-learning and exploring the ways in which they can be  active citizens and support their communities. It can be empowering for special education students, who are often the recipients of service, to become providers of service and discover the valuable ways that can contribute to the health and well-being of their community.

Service-Learning Projects and Project Approval

How can I find a service site for myself or child and get it approved?   

Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. There is also a Service-Learning Implementation Plan created by every school system which outlines exactly how students will meet the requirement in that system. 

Some local school systems maintain a list of approved community based organization sites at which students can engage in service-learning without first obtaining prior approval. All school systems have a localized procedure in place for approving sites and projects.

How do I find a service project to complete for myself/my child?

Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. There is also a Service-Learning Implementation Plan created by every school system which outlines exactly how students will meet the requirement in that system. 
Some local school systems maintain a list of approved community based organization sites at which students can engage in service-learning. All school systems have a localized procedure for approving sites and projects.


Will this project count as service-learning?

Decisions about what activities will be approved and count toward the hours needed to meet the service-learning graduation requirement are made at the local school system level. Projects are evaluated locally to make sure they meet all of Maryland’s Seven Best Practices of Service-Learning.

Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. There is also a Service-Learning Implementation Plan created by every school system which outlines exactly how students will meet the requirement in that system. 

I/my organization have/has a service project for which I’d/it would like to recruit students. How do we do that?

Decisions about what activities will be approved and count toward the hours needed to meet the service-learning graduation requirement are made at the local school system level. Projects are evaluated locally to make sure they meet all of Maryland’s Seven Best Practices of Service-Learning 

Each school system in Maryland designs a service-learning program that best meets the needs of its students and local community. There is a designated service-learning contact person in each system who oversees the program. If applicable, they can help share approved project opportunities with students and teachers in their system. 


Contact Information

Julie Ayers
julie.ayers@maryland.gov
(410) 767-0357