skip to main content

H.R. 2268 (113th): Engaging Students Through Service Learning Act

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 5, 2013 (Introduced).



1st Session

H. R. 2268


June 5, 2013

(for himself and Mr. Polis) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce


To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to authorize a national elementary and secondary service-learning program that promotes student academic achievement, and for other purposes.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Engaging Students Through Service Learning Act .


K–12 service-learning program


In general

Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 ( 20 U.S.C. 6601 et seq. ) is amended by adding at the end the following:


Enhancing the effectiveness of K–12 education through service learning



The Congress finds as follows:


Students learn best when they are actively engaged in meaningful and challenging learning experiences that encourage higher order skills development, critical thinking, and problem solving.


Service learning is a pedagogy that encompasses key elements of effective teaching and learning, including active learning, authentic experiences, opportunities for peer collaboration, problem solving, student leadership and empowerment, and cognitively challenging academic activities.


Students invest themselves in learning when their educational experiences have personal meaning to them and are connected to authentic, real issues in their everyday lives.


In service learning, students apply their knowledge and skills to solve actual community problems and experience the real-world value of what they are learning in school. Service learning can therefore have a powerful effect on students, increasing their academic engagement, their civic engagement and their social and emotional development.


Service learning can have a powerful effect on students, helping them to increase their academic engagement and performance, their civic engagement and desire to help others, and their social-emotional learning in areas related to 21st century skill acquisition, such as task persistence, intellectual curiosity, and ability to work in teams.


In service learning, students connect to the community and to their classmates in ways that are far more powerful than simple cooperative learning.


Service learning has been found to promote behavioral and dispositional factors that mediate students’ educational success such as greater motivation for school, engagement in learning tasks, building of self-efficacy and self-esteem, and propensity to engage in pro-social behaviors.


Research has demonstrated that test scores of students who participated in service learning are higher in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science than those of non-participants.


High-quality service learning will improve student achievement and our schools because it employs effective, experiential learning strategies associated with student engagement in academic work and preparation for success in college and the workplace, engages students in solving complex problems, probes for deeper learning, and seeks opportunities for students to transfer knowledge from one context to another.


Principals report that service learning has a positive impact on teacher satisfaction, school climate, academic achievement, and school engagement.


Teachers who use service learning in the classroom as a type of positive teaching strategy achieve better results in a variety of academic and behavioral categories than those who don’t, are more effective, challenged, and energized, and are more likely to remain within their chosen profession.


Only an estimated 24 percent of the approximately 53,300,000 K–12 youth in the United States are given the opportunity to engage in any kind of service-learning experience, a decline from 32 percent in 1999.


Schools in high-poverty areas are less likely to employ service learning as a teaching strategy, yet research has shown this is a particularly effective pedagogy for use in such schools. Service learning can significantly reduce the achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. Low-income students who participated in service opportunities have better school attendance and grades than low-income students who do not participate.


There is a need for a rigorous and focused initiative to demonstrate and broadly promote high-quality service learning that enhances teacher effectiveness, improves student learning and educational success, and positively affects school climate.


State educational agencies are the only entities with comprehensive, statewide responsibility for the quality of learning within a State.



The purpose of this part is to authorize a national service-learning program that will expand opportunities for students in elementary and secondary schools to engage in high-quality service learning that—


promotes student achievement in academic subjects, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics;


incorporates 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration;


integrates content knowledge and use of technology;


enhances school climate and civic engagement; and


prepares students for college or a career.


National activities

The Secretary shall reserve funds for national activities as follows:


The Secretary shall reserve not more than 10 percent of the appropriation for this program in any fiscal year to establish a National Center for K–12 Service Learning—


to provide technical assistance to State educational agencies to develop and expand the capacity of local educational agencies to improve teacher quality, school climate, and educational outcomes by providing an infrastructure for sustainable service-learning efforts through vision and leadership, professional development, curriculum and assessment, school-community collaborations, and continuous improvement; and


to provide oversight, coordinate with key Federal education initiatives, foster sustainability, provide evidence for the strengths and limitations of service-learning practices, and disseminate study findings.


The Secretary shall reserve not more than 10 of the appropriation for this program in any fiscal year percent for research and evaluation activities, including a study, conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences using data culled from the State longitudinal data systems authorized under title II of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002, on the effects of academic service learning on instructional quality and the academic success of students in low-performing schools. The study shall include the following elements:


A comprehensive, rigorous research design that builds on prior studies on effective pedagogies, service learning, and student success.


Gathering qualitative and quantitative data to comprehensively assess the impact service learning has on students’ academic, civic, and behavioral performance, including student engagement.


Identifying, tracking, and measuring the success of systemic, district-level change based on exemplary service-learning policies and practices.


Measuring the effectiveness of a high-quality professional development leadership system, including the effect the professional development provided under this section has on teaching and pedagogy, including the impact on teachers likelihood of providing students with real-world problem-solving opportunities, opportunities for deeper learning and tying academic concepts to real-world contexts, opportunities for leadership, and opportunities for peer collaboration.


Systematically measuring the influence of service-learning participation on students’ academic achievement within and across States.


Reporting annually to the public and the Congress.


The Secretary shall reserve not more than 5 percent of the appropriation for this program in any fiscal year for training and technical assistance for State-level program development consistent with the purposes of this Act. The Secretary shall contract with an entity, or entities, with a demonstrated record of achievement in promoting and disseminating best practices in service learning—


to continually scan the field and build an ever-expanding knowledge base of exemplary service-learning models;


to help ensure the dissemination, adoption, and continuous improvement of these exemplary practices at the State and local level; and


to conduct specific activities, including—


developing and disseminating exemplary program models that demonstrate how high-quality service-learning programs can be replicated and can become sustainable at the State and local level by advancing the use of service learning as a high-quality instructional pedagogy;


providing resources to support effective policy development at the State and local level to advance efforts with respect to high-quality teachers and the equitable distribution of high-quality teachers; and


providing exemplary professional development models and technical assistance materials to any interested party.


State activities



A State educational agency desiring a grant under this part shall submit an application to the Secretary that includes an assurance that, not later than 90 days after receiving a grant—


all local educational agencies in the State will have access to high-quality professional development and peer mentoring through a cascade model, including resources and ongoing support to transform instructional practices;


the State educational agency will implement strategies for improvement in the lowest performing geographic areas utilizing service-learning policies and practices, National School Climate Standards, and exemplary practices for enhancing teacher quality;


the State educational agency will establish State policies and support systems that are designed to result in effective programs; and


the State educational agency will establish partnerships with entities, such as institutions of higher education, institutions of teacher training, and nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated record of experience in school-based service learning, to develop systemic implementation of service learning in teacher preparation and professional development.


Service-Learning specialist

Of the funds made available to a State educational agency under this part, the agency shall reserve a portion of those funds appropriated to support a service-learning specialist who acts as a conduit of information between the State and local level, provides training and technical assistance, program improvement, and progress monitoring.


State-Level activities

Of the funds made available to a State educational agency under this part, the agency shall reserve 30 percent to support the following:


Collaboration and mentoring to increase consistency in implementation across States to ensure high-quality practice and sustainability.


Implementation of a statewide cascade professional development model.


On-site support and mentoring of local educational agencies.


Dissemination of resources to support implementation, capacity building, and sustainability of local efforts, including through grants or contracts with qualified national intermediaries or community-based organizations.


Subgrants to local educational agencies


In general

A State educational agency that receives funds under this part shall use the funds remaining after the application of section 2504 to make subgrants to local educational agencies that use—


the service-learning model to strengthen the content area disciplines and implementation of key educational innovations in schools with a high percentage of underperforming youth; and


a cascade professional development model to bring practice to scale.


Competitive subgrants

Subgrants under subsection (a) shall be made on a competitive basis with consideration for geographic diversity, including distribution between urban and rural local educational agencies. In making awards, the State educational agency must give priority to local educational agencies with high proportions of students living in poverty or performing below grade level.



A local educational agency applying for a subgrant under this section shall submit an application to the State educational agency that includes information on how—


funds will be used to participate in the cascade professional development model, ensure sustainability, and replicate the service-learning model to increase academic engagement and performance in content area courses, increase civic skills and engagement, and enable students in low-performing schools to help their own communities by giving them the knowledge, skills, and opportunities necessary to participate in high-quality service-learning experiences;


educators will—


receive support in using instructional practices that incorporate the application of academic knowledge and skills to address relevant needs in their community; and


identify current data, set measurable goals for their instructional activities, and measure impact on both students and the community; and


partnerships will be established to create a community-wide expectation that service learning is an essential part of a high-quality education.


Definition of cascade professional development model

In this part, the term cascade professional development model means a professional development model in which specialists are trained in high-quality practice and delivery of professional development. These experts then train educators, who are responsible for training, mentoring, and supporting their peers. This model allows for replication of effective practice and increased consistency in quality among all States.


Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this part such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2014 and for each of the 5 succeeding fiscal years.



Conforming amendment

The table of contents for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 2441 the following:

Part E—Enhancing the effectiveness of K–12 education through service learning

Sec. 2501. Findings.

Sec. 2502. Purposes.

Sec. 2503. National activities.

Sec. 2504. State activities.

Sec. 2505. Subgrants to local educational agencies.

Sec. 2506. Definition of cascade professional development model.

Sec. 2507. Authorization of appropriations.