K-12 Service-Learning Standards

K-12 Service Learning Standards

In 2008, the service-learning field released evidence-based standards and accompanying indicators that K-12 practitioners can use to ensure high-quality service-learning practice.

For decades, those involved in service-learning have known that quality matters if service-learning is to live up to its promise of helping young people grow in academics and civic engagement. Now educators have a set of standards and indicators to guide them in improving their practices.

Lift: Raising the Bar for Service-Learning Practice

The K-12 Service-Learning Standards come to life in our website Lift: Raising the Bar for Service-Learning Practice. The website uses extensive videos and downloadable resources to follow three schools through their own service-learning projects and how the K-12 Service-Learning Standards are important to their success. The Lift features stories and interviews on location with school administrators, teachers, and students talking about the challenges and rewards of their projects. The Lift is free to access, and serves as an excellent base for professional development events.

K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice

Meaningful Service

Service-learning actively engages participants in meaningful and personally relevant service activities


Link to Curriculum

Service-learning is intentionally used as an instructional strategy to meet learning goals and/or content standards.


Service-learning incorporates multiple challenging reflection activities that are ongoing and that prompt deep thinking and analysis about oneself and one’s relationship to society.


Service-learning promotes understanding of diversity and mutual respect among all participants.

Youth Voice

Service-learning provides youth with a strong voice in planning, implementing, and evaluating service-learning experiences with guidance from adults.


Service-learning partnerships are collaborative, mutually beneficial, and address community needs. 

Progress Monitoring

Service-learning engages participants in an ongoing process to assess the quality of implementation and progress toward meeting specified goals, and uses results for improvement and sustainability.

Duration and Intensity

Service-learning has sufficient duration and intensity to address community needs and meet specified outcomes.


Download a PDF of the standards here.

The Research

Access Virtual Briefcases - links to resources, documents, videos, and webinars on how to enhance your service-learning practice.