Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rethinking the Carnegie Unit

Stanford, California - The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, an independent research and policy organization based in Stanford, CA, has received a $460,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support research on the Carnegie Unit and its role—past, present, and future—in American education.

Created by the Carnegie Foundation in 1906 to raise academic expectations in secondary and post-secondary education, the now century-old Carnegie Unit continues to serve as the de facto standard for measuring student progress toward high school graduation and through college. Though the time-based Carnegie Unit was not intended to measure, inform or improve the quality of teaching or learning, it became and still remains the near-universal metric for student attainment across our nation’s secondary and higher education systems.

But as expectations for schools and students have risen dramatically and technology has revealed the potential of personalized learning, the Carnegie Foundation now believes it is time to consider how a revised unit, based on competency rather than time, could improve teaching and learning in high schools, colleges, and universities.

The Foundation is excited to lead a program of research and analysis that will lay the groundwork for a potential redesign of the Carnegie Unit. The project will include substantial input from a range of stakeholders and will culminate in the release of a report that analyzes the value of the Carnegie Unit in today’s educational context and examines the potential consequences of creating a new unit of learning.

Thomas Toch, a Carnegie senior managing partner, and Elena Silva, a senior associate for research and policy, will lead this project from the Carnegie Foundation’s Washington, DC, office. For more information about the program and the Carnegie Foundation please contact Gay Clyburn, associate vice-president for public affairs and continuing programs, at clyburn@carnegiefoundation.org or 650-566-5162.

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