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Aurora Institute

Only Ten States Require Districts to Use Time-based Credit

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): State Policy, Base Learning on Mastery Not Seat Time

Taylor White

Yep, only 10. That’s what the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and learning found out in their scan of state policies regarding credits as part of their reevaluation of the Carnegie Unit’s role in education. Taylor White from CFAT writes: Though many other states have offered such flexibility for more than a decade, the recent trend is clear: Mandatory use of seat-time is becoming a thing of the past.

After reviewing all 50 states and DC, CFAT organized states into five categories (below). You can find out where your state is by downloading the full report here.

  • Category 1) Carnegie Unit abolished as primary measure of student learning. Credits must be awarded based on students’ mastery of content and skills rather than on seat-time. (1 state)
  • Category 2) Districts define credits and may use seat-time OR another measure (e.g. proficiency or competency) to award credit in core courses. (29 states)
  • Category 3) Districts may apply for special-status or waivers to use measures other than seat-time to award credit for core courses. (4 states)
  • Category 4) Districts do not have any flexibility and must use time-based credits. (11 states)
  • Category 5) Districts have some flexibility, but it is limited to special circumstances, such as credit-recovery programs or out-of-school learning, and may require approval from the state. (6 states)