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Get High School Credit Using the Carnegie Unit System

You may use Balancing the Sword for language arts or Bible study credit for junior high and high school students.  Balancing the Sword is a premier reading comprehension tool.  This article is written specifically for homeschooling parents. 

American high schools use the Carnegie Unit measuring system for standardization purposes.  This time-based evaluation of educational attainment serves a benefit, but is also grossly handicapped in several ways.  I'll address the deficiencies further in a moment.  Strictly speaking, the Carnegie unit equals 120 hours of classroom time or time with the teacher.  The 120 hours can be amassed over different terms.  For example, 120 hours of class time can be accumulated as 1:00 hour for 5 days for 24 weeks (1:00 x 5 x 24 = 120).  As an alternative, 120 hours of class time can develop as 1:30 hours for 5 days for 16 weeks (1:30 x 5 x 16 = 120). 

The time your son or daughter invests reading the Bible and using Balancing the Sword determines the units that he or she deserves.  Some will restrict their efforts to reading the Bible and answering the questions only.  Others will look up all the cross references, document insights, and/or write essays.  The BTS Reading Planner will create a reading schedule in seconds.  Here is a basic chart assigning Carnegie units for one volume over two time periods:  365 days and 250 days.  (An equal number of units should be received for volume two if done separately which would include reading through the Bible a second time.)

Task Days Minutes Hours Units
Reading 365 30 183 1.52
Answering Questions 365 20 122 1.01
Cross References 365 50 304 2.53
15-Minute Discussion 365 15 91 0.76
30-Minute Journaling 365 30 183 1.52

882 7.35

Again, the above computation assume that 1 Carnegie unit equals 120 hours as already explained.  If you compress the work into 250 work days (i.e., Monday through Friday and taking off two weeks during the year), the number of minutes invested per day will increase as follows.  The total hours and units remain the same.

Task Days Minutes Hours Units
Reading 250 44 183 1.52
Answering Questions 250 29 122 1.01
Cross References 250 73 304 2.53
15-Minute Discussion 250 22 91 0.76
30-Minute Journaling 250 44 183 1.52

882 7.35

Again, the 7.35 units is for one volume.  Completing the second volume would constitute 7.35 additional units.  The units must be reduced if discussion and journaling time are not included.  The number of units increases if your child also writes essays on various biblical books.  The Department of Education in your state will likely limit the number of credits that you can draw from a single form and source of study.  Therefore, your state may permit you to have 2 credits as an "Introduction to the Bible" and 1 credit for "Rapid Reading of Classic Literature."  Below are the limitations to using such a simplistic system measured only by the clock.

Limitation:  Self-Taught.  Applying the Carnegie system to a homeschooling setting presents its first difficulty with how we define "classroom time or time with the teacher."  Most homeschool students have self-directed studies from a much earlier age than publicly educated children.  Yet, the Carnegie standards expect a teacher's guidance.  There are several other deficiencies with the Carnegie Unit system which are pervasive (i.e., not unique to the homeschooling).

Limitation:  Teacher's Skill.  Teachers vary in communication skills and knowledge.  A great teacher can make a complex subject simple and attainable.  Lackluster teachers can put students to sleep in mass.  Left unassisted, an hour can be completely fruitless when trying to learn some subjects.  However, a gifted teacher can bless us with many wonderful insights and clarifications that make learning the Bible (or, any literary composition) more enjoyable and effectual.  BTS is not designed to take the place of a skilled teacher.  However, there are many free scholarly commentaries and lectures on the Internet if you wish to add this component.  Blindly, the Carnegie Unit system gives equal credits to the students under hideous teachers as opposed to brilliant teachers.

Limitation:  Textbook's Quality.  Furthermore, textbooks possess differing degrees of effectiveness.  In the case of the Balancing the Sword study package, there are three "textbooks," if you will.  Balancing the Sword volume one and two act as two of the textbooks.  The Bible is the third and primary textbook.  BTS supplements as a teaching aid designed to make reading and comprehending the Bible easier.  The translation of the Bible used will have a large influence on the ease/difficulty of the course.  I recommend the New King James for young adults readers.  Adept readers will enhance their education much further by challenging themselves to use the King James translation.  The KJV is only about a 6-grade reading level when tested by the Flesch-Kincaid readability measuring formula.  Verily (i.e., in truth), I trowed (i.e, think) the KJV is actually much higher due to some of its archaic vocabulary.  "Verily" is only three syllables which gives it a moderate grade level rating, and "trowed" is only one syllable which supposedly makes it perfect for little kids.  However, few college grads know the meanings of these words.  The KJV is more accurately set as a mid-college composition.  Yet, one hour of reading the New Living translation and one hour of reading the KJV are arbitrarily treated the same by the Carnegie Unit system.

Limitation:  Homework.  Additionally, homework can substantially amplify the impact that a coarse has upon how much a student learns.  Some math teachers are reputed as easy, giving little to no homework.  Other teachers give two hours of homework for every one hour in class.  It is no wonder way the Carnegie Unit of measurement will again mislabel the classes as equal.

Limitation:  Aptitude.  If the time is measured as private study time (instead of "time with the teacher"), another difficulty comes with the speed of the individual student.  One student reads 200 words per minute while another reads 400 words per minute with the same comprehension.  Therefore, the learning consumption of the second student is twice as great as the first in a one hour class.  Yet, the Carnegie Unit system assumes that the education level is the same for both the slow and fast reader.

Limitation:  Environment.  Finally, the educational environment itself lends considerably to the success of learning.  The homeschooling student who enjoys a peaceful environment will gain much more education in an hour than the average child in the public school system where he or she is distracted by interest in the opposite sex and by misbehaving students.  The Carnegie Unit system indiscriminately gives just as many units to the students in conflicted environments as to those of studious settings.

BTS Reading Planner.  The BTS package includes the Reading Planner software which can create an itinerary for homeschooling moms and private Christian school teachers.  Some teachers labor for hours to evenly breakdown a course schedule manually.  Within seconds, the BTS Reading Planner software allows you to generate a plan for the year, semester, or quarter with weekends and holidays excluded from the reading days.  Click here to learn more about to create a reading schedule with the Reading Planner software.

Also see How was BTS used at USF?

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.