Guidance for Community Service Requirements for Graduation
Current 9th Grade Students
Pursuant to Act 237 of 2023, AR LEARNS, all current 9th grade students who are set to graduate in the academic year 2026-2027 or beyond, are required to complete a minimum of seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service prior to graduation. Act 237 does not place a minimum community service hour requirement per grade level or a limit on the number of hours a student can earn towards the 75 hours in a year. For example, a student that earns 30 hours in 9th grade and 45 hours their sophomore year will have completed the required 75 hours prior to graduation.
Transferring Students or Graduating Early
Students transferring into a public school district after 9th grade or students graduating early may receive a diploma provided that the minimum requirement for each year they attend a public school district in Arkansas is met. The minimum number of community service hours for each grade level for those students shall be: Fifteen (15) hours for students in 9th grade; Twenty (20) hours for students in 10th grade; Twenty (20) hours for students in 11th grade; Twenty (20) hours for students in 12th grade. For example, a student moves to Arkansas from a different state in 11th grade. The student would need to accrue 40 hours of community service to graduate.
Community Service Guidelines
Community service refers to activities carried out by individual students or groups of students to enhance and contribute to their local community. These activities can take place within Arkansas or outside of Arkansas, as long as they receive approval from the district administration.
To aid students in fulfilling this requirement, it is recommended that local school boards with administration establish endorsed volunteer sites and partnerships within the community. The school or district can also arrange service-learning projects that count towards community service hours. However, in cases where a community service project is not approved by the local board or organized by the district, the decision for approval lies with the school's volunteer coordinator or administration. Work-based opportunities for community service may be granted by a district for a student, if determined to meet the needs of individual circumstances. Students are also required to provide details about their community service projects, including their preparation, actions, and reflections. The process for collecting and verifying this information may vary depending on the district and could be incorporated into the Student Success Plan.
Efforts are currently underway in collaboration with Triand, our state transcript system to enable schools to record their student’s annual volunteer hours, which will accumulate each year towards graduation requirement. However, the updated Triand platform featuring these new fields will not be accessible until Spring of 2024. Rules may be promulgated if determined necessary for additional guidance.
Current 10th-12th grade Students
The Community Service course (496010), along with Arkansas law enables students currently in grades 10-12th to earn credit for their community service activities. This course remains active and is still integrated into the accountability framework. Please note ACT 720 of 2023 eliminates the requirement for the State Board of Education to approve volunteer sites. Approval from the local board remains, except when the community service is supervised by school staff. The essential components of the course, including preparation, action, and reflection, continue to be a requirement for credit.