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Programs
Programs > Service-Learning > Docs
Next Steps
What is Next Steps?
Next Steps: A School District's Guide to the Essential Elements of Service-Learning is another tool from the Maryland Student Service Alliance, Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for the improvement of school-based service-learning. Next Steps was originally developed by school district administrators to help them evaluate and improve service-learning using a consistent set of standards. Maryland educators used and improved this tool for over two years, and a national work group revised it for national use.

Why and How did we create Next Steps?
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Maryland students engage in active citizenship and service to the community. In the middle of the 1990s, when Maryland began to implement service-learning on such a large scale, administrators asked for guidance as they built and evaluated service-learning programs. MSSA/MSDE responded by convening Maryland service-learning leaders to produce a first draft entitled Shared Learnings. Administrators used Shared Learnings to evaluate service-learning in their school districts in 1996 and 1997. After that field testing, leaders from Maryland joined national experts to revise the document for national audiences under the new name Next Steps.

How you can use Next Steps
As states, school districts, and individual schools embrace service-learning as a teaching strategy and an education reform initiative, there are many lessons and successes to share. That spirit of sharing inspired the authors of Next Steps. Every indicator and example in Next Steps comes from the experience of a Maryland school system. Whether you are new or experienced at administering service-learning programs, Next Steps has something to offer. If you want to create or improve service-learning programs on a large scale, Next Steps: A School District's Guide to the Essential Elements of Service-Learning is for you.

Next Steps at a Glance

Infrastructure: A System Is in Place to Sustain Service-Learning Initiatives

  • Instructional Design: Developmentally appropriate service-learning model is designed that includes preparation, action, and reflection.
  • Communication: Information is shared among students, families, community partners, schools, Local Education Agency (LEA) central offices, and the State Department of Education.
  • Funding & In-Kind Resources: Resources are identified, secured, and distributed to support staff and administration in implementing service-learning.
  • School-Level Support: Leadership at the school level is developed and supported.
  • Data Collection: Accurate documentation of student involvement in activities and its relation to other variables is maintained.

Instruction: A Method of Teaching and Learning Has Been Developed, and the Parameters for Implementation Are in Place

  • Organizational Roles & Responsibilities: Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined for students, families, teachers, community partners, schools, and local and state education offices.
  • Connections with Education Initiatives: Service-learning is integrated with other educational improvement initiatives.
  • Curriculum: Service-learning is established as an integral part of curriculum standards and assessment.
  • Professional Development & Training: Comprehensive training is provided for all involved in service-learning.
  • Evaluation: Program appraisal is based on established best practices.
  • Research: Effective practices, identified through research, are used for improving service-learning quality.

Investment: Interactions Occur Among All Involved in Service-Learning Initiatives, and Successes Are Acknowledged & Celebrated

  • Student Leadership: Students are central to planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning initiatives.
  • Community Partnerships: Mutually beneficial partnerships are developed with community members and organizations.
  • Public Support & Involvement: Families and the community participate in the operation of service-learning in the community.
  • Recognition: Exemplary service-learning experiences of students, teachers, administrators, and community partners are celebrated.


Thanks to the National Level Work Group who created Next Steps by taking Maryland's Shared Learnings to the national level.

  • Sheila Bailey, Vermont Department of Education
  • Dawn Bova, Close Up Foundation
  • Kathy Gibson Carter, South Carolina Department of Education
  • Todd Clark, Constitutional Rights Foundation
  • Marty Duckenfeld, National Dropout Prevention Center
  • Elaine Gorman, Baltimore County, Maryland
  • Stan Hansen, New York State Education Department
  • Robert V. Jervis, Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  • Carol Kinsley, Community Service-Learning Center
  • Richard Kinsley, Ohio Campus Compact
  • Nancy Miller, American Association of School Administrators
  • Thomas Ranese, Learn and Serve America
  • Charles Ridgell III, St. Mary's County, Maryland
We also thank the service-learning coordinators in Maryland's school systems and all those who provided input since the inception of this project.

Contact Information
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
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