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The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Educational Landscape

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PLAIO is pleased to include this resource. Our overview is as follows.

In January 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching released the results of its two-year study of the influential, longstanding Carnegie Unit and its impact on education reform in K-12 and higher education. "The Carnegie Unit: A Century-Old Standard in a Changing Education Landscape," authored by Carnegie’s Elena Silva, Thomas Toch and Taylor White, describes how the Carnegie Unit’s time-based standard of student progress came to define the design and delivery of American education and its current usage across the country.

The report draws on historical research, interviews with dozens of experts in K-12 and higher education, and extensive study of emerging alternatives to the Carnegie Unit in the United States and aboard. The study finds that the Carnegie Unit continues to play a valuable role in education as an administrative currency and opportunity-to-learn standard, but that it is miscast as a measure of student learning. The report thus concludes that the U.S. education system needs more informative measures of student performance in order to reach its goal of increasing transparency and flexibility in education.

The report can be accessed at the following link:


Special thanks to Gary Otake, director of content strategy and new media with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, on behalf of authors Silva, White and Toch, for allowing us to share this resource with our readers.