Frequently Asked Questions: 

New Service Learning Policy

What is the new service learning requirement?

The  new board policy requires that students complete  two service learning projects in order to graduate. In compliance with the new state civics mandate, at least one of the service learning projects must be completed in a student’s civics or AP Government course.  The second project should be completed in a 9th or 10th grade course or independently.

What will count as a service learning?

While the policy shifts the requirement away from hours to a project based model, the guidelines in terms of the components of service learning, restrictions on service activities, etc will remain the same. You can find more information regarding service learning guidelines:

What is a service-learning project?

A service-learning project is a civic learning experience that allows students to connect what they are learning in class to contribute to the common good in their schools and communities. All service projects must include preparation, action and reflection. Service-learning projects should meet the following standards of excellent practice: student voice, meaningful service, curriculum integration, reflection, community partnerships, progress monitoring, diversity and duration and intensity. For more information about the standards of quality practice please visit our website, or contact Lauren M. Woods, Service-Learning Coordinator,

What are the requirements for independent service learning projects?

Schools may choose to allow students to complete one of the service learning project requirements independent of a specific course.  However, these projects must be completed with a certified CPS service learning partner organization and meet the guidelines of service learning as determined by the Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement.  Students will be required to work with the designated school Service Learning Coach to receive approval BEFORE the project can be implemented. All independent projects must follow the existing requirement that service learning include preparation, action and reflection. Students will be required to present documentation that they have met all three components. A course code for independent service learning projects will be provided.

Do students need approval before they begin an individual service-learning projects?

Yes. Students must have all individual service-learning projects approved by their Service-Learning Coach before they begin. Students must complete a Project Preparation and Project Reflection Form and submit to the Service-Learning Coach. A copy of this form will be made available online at  

Where can I find a list of certified CPS service learning partners and organizations?

A list of certified Service-Learning Community Partners is available online at under “Community Partners”.  Service-Learning Coaches will also be supplied with this list.

What about individual community service hours that students might perform? How will those be recorded?

The ITS team has created a field on the transcript under “Awards & Honors”  in which non-credit bearing volunteer hours can be recorded. This will allow students to showcase their service to prospective colleges, employers and scholarship review committees. Counselors and/or Service Learning Coaches will be able to enter volunteer hours  performed by students and the cumulative amount will appear on the final transcript.

What will change about how service learning is recorded and tracked?

Currently schools utilize the Service Learning Hours page in IMPACT SIM to manually record the number of hours that students complete.  Service-learning project hours should be entered by the Service-Learning Coach or designated appointee as determined by School Administration using the student’s Service-Learning Hours page in SIM. Each service-learning project is worth a maximum of 15 hours towards meeting the CPS Service-Learning graduation requirement. Students must earn 40 hours of service-learning to fulfil the graduation requirement

For Freshman beginning H.S. during the 2016-2017 SY :

Beginning with incoming 9th grade students, and continuing with matriculating classes, service-learning will be given a course code and embedded within gradebook. In order to record completion of the service-learning project in Civics/ A.P. U.S. Government and during 9th or 10th grade, teachers must assign a non-credit bearing grade for service-learning. If a student fails a course but has successfully completed the service-learning project they should be given credit for completing the project. Completion of both service-learning projects will be reflected on the student’s transcripts. Below of the service-learning course codes:

Career & Technical Education


Physical Education








Social Science


Fine Arts


World Language




Independent Service Learning




Other Service-Learning


How will the role of service learning coach shift or change given the new policy?

With the new policy ervice learning coaches and counselors will see a decrease in paperwork as they will no longer be required to enter individual hours or promote individual community service opportunities. However, coaches will play a critical role in helping staff to develop and implement high-quality service learning projects connected to course content. In addition, coaches will still be required to complete reporting requests regarding implementation.  Finally, for schools that opt to require students to complete independent service learning projects, coaches will work with students to identify high quality independent project opportunities. 

Will this new service learning policy apply to current CPS students?

No, the new policy applies to students entering high school during the 2016-2017 school year and will continue with matriculating classes.  All current students will still be required to complete 40 service learning hours (or the equivalent of up to 3 projects in which 1 project is equal to 15 hours) and have those hours tracked via SIM.


For further questions regarding Service Learning in CPS including existing resources and related supports contact Lauren Woods, Service Learning Coordinator, at For information on additional civic engagement programming and supports available to schools please feel free to contact Jessica Marshall, Director of Social Science and Civic Engagement, at