Community Service Learning

Community Service refers to activities carried out by individual students or groups of students to enhance and contribute to their local community. This approach includes:

  • Teaching and learning in which students use academic knowledge and skills to address needs in their community
  • Providing a way to help foster civic participation and personal responsibility
  • More than just “volunteerism”; community service activities benefit members of their local community and should include the following components: preparation, action, and reflection
  • Activities which can take place within Arkansas or outside of Arkansas, as long as students receive approval from the Community Service coordinator or district administration.

Community Service in Arkansas combines service to the community with student learning in a way that improves both the student and the community. 

For Current 10th-12th Grade Students

Arkansas Code Annotated §6-16-120 states that “beginning with the 1996-97 school year and ending with the graduating class of 2025-2026, a student who has completed a minimum of seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service in grades nine (9) through twelve (12), at any certified service agency or a part of a service-learning school program shall be eligible to receive one (1) academic credit that may be applied toward graduation."

The Community Service Learning (CSL) course code (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 CSL, including preparation, action, and reflection, continue to be a requirement for credit.

All Community Service Learning plans must be submitted to DESE through the Course Approval System. To check if a district has a plan on file, contact

For Current 9th Grade Students

Arkansas Code Annotated §6-16-1901 states that “beginning with the graduating class of 2026-2027, a public high school student shall complete a minimum of seventy-five (75) clock hours of documented community service in grades nine through twelve (9-12), as certified by the service agency or organization with which the public school student volunteers, in order to graduate.

There is no 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 who earns 30 hours in 9th grade and 45 hours their sophomore year will have completed the required 75 hours prior to graduation. 

For 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

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 Community Service 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 community service hours, which will accumulate each year towards the 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. 

For more information, please contact:

Amber Murry Pirnique, Disciplinary Literacy Program Manager
Arkansas Department of Education
Division of Elementary and Secondary Education
Four Capitol Mall, Room 202-B
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: 501-682-5764

 Related Files

 Related Links