New Hampshire Leads PACE Assessment
New Hampshire, and the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE), is setting the PACE with its Performance Assessment for Competency Education pilot (PACE). Four New Hampshire school districts, Epping, Sanborn Regional, Souhegan, and Rochester will be the first in the nation to pilot the new assessment plan. PACE is a strategically planned effort for reducing standardized testing for more locally managed assessments that integrate students’ daily work.
“As the leading PACE district, Sanborn Regional believes this is the right work at the right time. PACE allows us to build rigorous assessments into everyday student learning rather than making the assessments an isolated, special event with no immediate results. We believe our own assessments, as a part of the PACE Pilot, will meet State and Federal accountability requirements. The confidence that the State of New Hampshire has in our teachers has made us stronger and allowed us to prepare for this work,” said Superintendent Dr. Brian Blake of the Sanborn Regional School District said,
The four New Hampshire school districts have been working with the New Hampshire Department of Education for two years on the plan. PACE is seen as a strategy for providing meaningful feedback for students, parents, and teachers. While it is a goal to reduce the “nations” reliance on standardized testing, PACE is not an effort to do away with it completely.
This year, the four districts will give the Smarter Balanced, statewide assessment, once, in three grades rather than seven, at elementary, middle school, and high school levels. In the years statewide assessment isn’t mandated, the four PACE districts will evaluate students using district-developed “common and local performance assessments” which have had state education department validation. These performance tasks will ask students to apply what they have learned in a higher-level way. Students will need to not only present information from multiple sources, but also show and use calculations, and other evidence, to verify their findings.
Again, the United States Department of Education (USED) sees PACE in these four New Hampshire districts as a pilot study, for helping to collect research data on the future of testing. Some, though, see it as a way towards reducing the amount of testing in schools each year, as well as leading the way for other school districts to use the PACE model in the future.