90% of high school seniors finish community service But 4,300 students lack graduation requirement

THE BALTIMORE SUN

More than 90 percent of Maryland's high school seniors have completed their community service requirement, tallying more than 629,000 volunteer hours over the past four years, according to a report to the Maryland State Board of Education yesterday.

But more than 4,300 students around the state still must complete their minimum of 75 community service hours as graduation nears.

"We have a lot of good news," said Assistant State Superintendent Margaret C. Trader. "The movement is occurring and it's significant movement. But it's taking a lot of work on the part of local school systems."

Baltimore and Montgomery counties have the greatest number of students who "have made no progress" toward the new and still controversial requirement, with 40 and 42 students, respectively.

And Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George's counties have more than 500 students each who have completed less than 75 percent of the required hours.

In 1992, the state board made Maryland the first state to require community service for high school graduation. With 43,249 students, Maryland's Class of 1997 is the first to face that requirement.

Since last spring, school systems around the state have begun summer programs and evening and Saturday classes in student service learning and designed courses with built-in service to ensure that students would have ample opportunities to accumulate the hours.

Some students still are coming down to the wire, Trader said, but no one at the meeting would speculate on how many, if any, students would be denied diplomas solely because of the service requirement.

The state report indicates that 571 students who have not completed their service hours are also deficient in at least one other requirement.

In other action, the board:

Approved the funds for technology projects in 149 Maryland schools. Each school will receive about $49,000 in fiscal 1998 for computer hardware, software and teacher training. More than 100 of those schools also will share $5.4 million in state and local funds to wire their schools for technology; the rest already are wired.

Gave preliminary approval to recommendations that would change the procedure for assessing those who want to be school principals.

Currently, all candidates must attend the two-day Maryland Assessment Center Program, which superintendents said is costly and disruptive.

That will be replaced with a one-day performance assessment or a six-hour written examination -- neither of which is ready.

Pub Date: 5/01/97

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