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Service-Learning and Community Service in K-12 Public Schools
NCES: 1999043
September 1999

Community Service

Overall,64 percent of all public schools in the United States had students participating in community service activities recognized by and/ or arranged through the school. A higher percentage of high schools (83 percent) than elementary schools (55 percent) or middle schools (77 percent) had students engaged in community service activities (table 1). Middle schools were also more likely to have students participating in community service activities than were elementary schools. There were also differences in community service participation by school size, with larger schools (i. e., those enrolling 1,000 or more students) more likely to have students participating in community service activities than schools with lower enrollments.

Schools' use of community service also varied by the economic background of students. Using the Title I threshold for schools that qualify as schoolwide Title I programs (U. S. Department of Education, 1999), schools where 50 percent or more of the student body were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were compared to those where fewer students qualified. Schools with less than 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were more likely to have students participating in community service activities than those that had higher percentages of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

One measure of school commitment to community service activities is whether the school organizes community service activities in which students can participate. Fifty-seven percent of all public schools organized community service activities (table 1) for their students.

This represented 89 percent of schools whose students were participating in community service activities (not shown in table). Middle schools (71 percent; (table 1) and high schools (71 percent) were more likely to organize community service activities than were elementary schools (49 percent). In addition, schools with less than 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch were also more likely to organize community service activities than schools with 50 percent or more of their students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

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