1. What is service-learning?

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

2. Why is it called service-learning instead of community service or volunteering?

Service-learning is a method of experiential learning, and is a natural outgrowth of the curriculum. Students study their communities and understand the many ways that their academic studies are related to being involved as a citizen. They also evaluate, discuss and reflect on their service in order to make the connection between their academic subjects and effective action. While community service and volunteering are important endeavors that address local needs, they do not include the structure learning experience required service-learning projects through preparation, action, and reflection.

3. What is the graduation requirement for service-learning?

The Service-Learning Graduation Requirement was passed in 1992 by the Maryland State Department of Education. This requirement mandates that public school students earn a minimum of 75 hours of service-learning prior to graduation.

4. What is the plan for service-learning in Charles County Public Schools?

Service-learning has been infused into the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade subject areas. Students will receive hours in Language Arts, Science, Heath, Science and Social Studies in 6th-9th grade. Projects are planned based upon a needs assessment by students and teachers and encompass the 7 Best Practices. All the required hours will be counted during school time. The chart below identifies the subject areas and number of hours attributed to each grade level of projects the student completes.

Grade Level Subject Area Hours Completed/Cumulative Hours
Sixth grade (6) English/Language Arts 10 hours/10 hours
Seventh grade (7) Science 25 hours/35 hours
Eighth grade (8) Health 15 hours/50 hours
Ninth grade (9) Social Studies 25 hours/75 hours

5. What is the criteria determining an appropriate service-learning project?

All service-learning projects are designed to meet the Seven Best Practices:

* Meet a recognized need in the community

* Achieve curricular objectives through service-learning

* Reflect throughout the service-learning experience

* Develop student responsibility

* Establish community partnerships

* Plan ahead for service-learning

* Equip students with knowledge and skills needed for service

6. How do you know if a student completed service-learning requirement?

At the end of each school year, students’ hours will automatically be generated on the report card. This will inform parents and students of the status of completed requirements for that year. At the end of 9th grade, if a student has fulfilled the service-learning requirement COMPLETE appears on the report card. However, if a student does not complete the service-learning requirement by the end of the 9th grade, INCOMPLETE will appear on the report card and COMPLETE will be added only when he/she completes the requirement in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade.

7. Who keeps track of these hours?

At the middle and the high school level, the data entry clerk will enter the hours into the online data base which will keep a running total of hours. The school-based SSL coordinator is responsible for providing the data entry clerk with accurate and timely information on the status of students as the progress through the requirements.

8. Who is responsible to make sure that students meet the requirement?

Ultimately, the student is responsible for meeting the requirement. Each school district, however, will help by providing opportunities for students to engage in service in the school, through classroom-based projects, through school-sponsored extracurricular activities, by accepting service performed at outside agencies, and by keeping a cumulative record of students’ service.

9. What cannot be counted as service-learning?

* Any activity that increases the amount of revenue for a private, for profit business or generates new revenue for that business

* Any activity in which a student replaces a paid staff worker for the participating agency or institution

* Any activity that compensates the student with money, goods, or services

* Any activity in which the chief purpose is to convert others to a particular religious or spiritual view and/or which belittles the religious or spiritual view of others

* Any activity whose chief purpose is to help prepare and/or participate in the performance of a religious service or religious education activity