Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) Hosts Carnegie Foundation to Reimagine Carnegie Unit

October 3, 2022

The Phoenix Union High School District (PXU) will host the Carnegie Foundation on October 3–5 as we reimagine high schools and ideate on how education can move beyond time-based models of measuring learning like the Carnegie Unit. Over the summer, PXU Superintendent Dr. Chad Gestson and key district leaders joined educators from across the country in Palo Alto, California, for a convening of the Carnegie Learning Leadership Network (LLN). The focus of the network, which is part of the Foundation’s larger Future of Learning initiative, is to support, showcase, and study systems that are creating engaging, equitable, and effective learning experiences for secondary students. The group chose Phoenix Union as the first location to study the PXU portfolio of schools—including PXU City, which offers students the only flexible scheduling model in the state. At PXU City, students partner with their counselors to create a schedule that fits their needs, including the opportunity to take classes both in person and online.

The Carnegie Unit was developed in 1906 as a measure of the amount of time a student has studied a subject. For example, a total of 120 hours in one subject—meeting four or five times a week for 40 to 60 minutes, for 36 to 40 weeks each year—earns the student one “unit” of high school credit. Fourteen units were deemed to constitute the minimum amount of preparation that could be interpreted as “four years of academic or high school preparation.” Since the establishment of the Carnegie Unit, it has become the core currency of the educational economy—influencing the entire education sector. Carnegie, PXU, and a national network of school systems are working together as members of the LLN to discover more effective ways to prepare young people for the future, where learning is effective, engaging, experiential, and outcomes-based.

“Phoenix Union has become a national leader in education, and we are pleased to provide our students with innovative and creative learning models,” said Dr. Gestson. “Working with the Carnegie Foundation to reshape the school day for students across the country will produce the flexibility to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce.”

“We are thrilled to be visiting the Phoenix Union High School District with the Learning Leadership Network,” said Ash Vasudeva, the Carnegie Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “We are excited to witness the rigorous, innovative, experiential, and transformational learning happening in this district. We look forward to working with PXU and our other LLN districts in the coming years as we push our understanding of what a high-quality, career- and college-aligned secondary education looks like.”

“Phoenix Union is a true pathfinder,” added Carnegie Foundation President Timothy Knowles. “They are reimagining schooling for all young people, so they can go on to find wealth-generating careers and lead purposeful lives. We are privileged to work in partnership with PXU and the Learning Leadership Network to bring the future of learning to life.”

About the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was established in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an act of Congress and has had an extraordinary impact on K12 and postsecondary education sector. Among other things, it was instrumental to establishing the Pell Grants, the Education Testing Service, the Carnegie Classifications for Institutions of Higher Education, and standards for professional training in medicine, engineering, law and education. Today the mission of the Foundation is to catalyze transformational change in education so that every student has the opportunity to live a healthy, dignified, and fulfilling life.

About Phoenix Union High School District

Phoenix Union is one of the largest and most progressive high school districts in the United States. Currently with 23 schools, over 28,000 students, and nearly 4,000 employees, PXU covers 220-square miles of Arizona’s capital city and is the umbrella high school district of 13 elementary districts and our 100,000 K-12 students. PXU is a portfolio district with 11 comprehensive high schools, six small specialty schools, three micro schools, three support schools, and a digital academy. Phoenix Union will launch Phoenix Educator Prep in the Fall of 2023, PXU’s 24th school, designed to create the next generation of teachers, counselors, social workers, and more.