In 2011, 19 states allowed districts to award credit toward graduation for volunteering or service learning, and seven states allowed districts to require service for graduation, according to data collected by the Education Commission of the States.
In 2001, only seven states allowed high school credit for service.
There has been a range of reactions regarding the movement of mandatory participation in community service, from lawsuits to enthusiasm, which beckons the question, how has this requirement changed since the 90s and how has it affected their long-term outcomes as citizens?
Since the 90s there has been an even greater push for service as a result of federal incentives, thus engaging more students into the community, creating civic minded individuals (which can be dependent on the structure of the mandatory program).
When researching high school graduation requirements of community service, there are several terms that ought to be clarified, as they may be confusing.
Civic engagement is an overarching term and is defined as enhancing civic society through the combined use of “knowledge, skills, values and motivation” to achieve social change (NYTimes).
In recent years, youth participation in volunteerism has fluctuated, resulting in a growing number of high schools requiring them to complete a certain number of hours of service in order to graduate.
Maryland's statewide requirement that all students complete 75 hours of service learning by graduation led to significant boosts in 8th grade volunteering—generally in school-organized activities—but it actually decreased volunteering among older students, leading to a potential loss in long-term volunteering, according to a study previewed online by the Economics of Education Review in June."If this is for school, how do we know [students] are considering this as community service, rather than just homework for school? Helms, an assistant professor of economics at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala."One of the interpretations that is more convincing is, maybe we are substituting this [requirement] for being self-motivated. " Service learning—in which students engage in projects and activities to improve their communities or address social problems—has become more popular in the past decade.While Maryland remains the only state to require universal service learning as a condition of graduation, the District of Columbia school system began requiring 100 hours of community service in 2007, and several other large districts, including Atlanta, Chicago, and Philadelphia, also require community service for graduation.
In the United States civic engagement has been a crucial component of society, whether it is through political activism or lending a helping hand to our fellow neighbors.
This occurs through several means including: volunteerism, community service, and service-learning.