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Programs > Service-Learning > Docs
Graduation Requirements
In July 1992, Maryland's State Board of Education took a bold step; it mandated service-learning participation as a graduation requirement (see History of Service Learning). They passed the following mandate as part of Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) to enact the service-learning requirement:

General Instructional Programs   13A.03.02.06

 

D. Student Service. Students shall complete one of the following:
....

(1) seventy-five hours of student service that includes preparation, action, and reflection components and that, at the discretion of the local school system, may begin during the middle grades;
or
(2) a locally-designed program in student service that has been approved by the State Superintendent of Schools.

The mandate took effect in the Fall of 1993, impacting the graduating class of 1997. Every public school student in Maryland will be involved in service-learning as a condition of graduation. This includes all special education students, unless exceptions are specifically noted in their individual education plans (IEPs). No other state has a similar requirement yet, although many private schools and public school districts do have service requirements.

Implementation Plans

Because all 24 school districts in Maryland have unique academic and community needs, they all chose to design their programs locally (option 2). Therefore, there are 24 different implementation models around the state. Some districts require students to conduct individual service-learning projects in the community. Most school districts infuse service-learning activities into the existing curriculum to help students use their academic skills to solve real community problems. Districts are encouraged to review and revise their plans, based on lessons learned during implementation.

Despite the variance between district plans, all 24 Maryland school systems infuse service-learning into existing courses as all or part of their plan. By adding experiential, community-based service activities to existing curricula, teachers enhance their students' learning. In most cases, students complete all three service-learning elements--preparation, action, and reflection--as part of their regular school day. In other systems, students carry out one or more elements as part of a class and perform the remaining piece(s) on their own after school or on weekends.

Some school systems require that students conduct independent service-learning projects to fulfill part of the graduation requirement. In these systems, students are given guidelines stating how much service is expected and which organizations are appropriate sites for service. Students perform service projects in the community, independent of their school, and keep track of the hours of service.

See Local School System Information for detailed fact sheets on each school system's service-learning implementation plan.


Contact Information
Julie Ayers, Service-Learning Specialist
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Email:  jayers@msde.state.md.us
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