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Greetings from MCS!  

You have probably heard a lot about PACE (Performance Assessment of Competency Education) by now, as we have been involved since 2015.  Do you have questions or wonderings about what exactly that means?  

The following is an excerpt from "From Good to Great", a document produced by the NH Department of Education to inform interested parties about PACE.  More questions?  Please contact me and I would be happy to talk with you!

Respectfully, 

Leah Holz, Principal
lholz@monroeschool77.com  

KEY ASPECTS OF PACE 

Who:

Participating School Districts for 2015-2016 include: Sanborn Regional School District, Rochester School District, Epping School District, Souhegan School District, Concord School District, Pittsfield School District, Seacoast Charter School, and Monroe School District. Several other school districts are currently building their capacity to become fully participating NH PACE districts in subsequent years. Importantly, the “who” includes essentially all students in each district. Instructional and assessment accommodations are available for students with disabilities as well as students for whom English is not their native language. A fundamental value of NH PACE is that the system should be designed to maximize the learning opportunities for each individual student.

When:

NH PACE began as a two-year pilot. The Assessment and Accountability Demonstration Authority under the Every Student Succeeds Act would permit a three-year demonstration and a two-year extension contingent upon a successful three-year program.

Pilot:

This federally approved pilot is not a “waiver” and does not otherwise change the requirement that all districts participate in the Smarter Balanced (and now SAT) assessment. Similar requirements will exist for other states that hope to be awarded “demonstration authority” status under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Learning:

NH PACE is a learning system designed to capitalize on the latest advances in understanding of how people learn.1 The goal is to structure learning opportunities that allow students to grapple with gaining meaningful knowledge and skills at a depth of understanding that they can transfer to new real-world situations. As a coherent system, NH PACE is designed to foster positive organizational learning2 and change by supporting the internally-driven motivation of educators instead of the all-too common top-down accountability approaches where the goals and methods of the accountability system are defined at the state or federal levels and districts are simply expected to comply.

Assessments:

The core of the NH PACE assessment system is locally-developed, locally-administered performance assessments tied to grade and course competencies determined by local school districts. Additionally, in each grade and subject without a state assessment (a total of 17 subjects and grades), there is one, common complex performance task administered by all participating districts. This common assessment is NOT a state test! Rather, it is developed collaboratively among the participating districts and is used to ensure that each teacher’s evaluation of student performance is comparable to the evaluations made by other teachers. Finally, Smarter Balanced is administered in grade 3 (English language arts), 4 (math), and grade 8 for both ELA and math. The SAT is administered to all grade 11 students. In other words, “state” assessments are administered in only 6 grades/subjects and local assessments in 17.

“Over-testing”:

NH PACE eliminates over-testing! Teachers use every assessment except the six “state” assessments to inform day-today student learning, provide data for student grades, and help determine students’ levels of competency. Legitimate concerns about over-testing arise when students take tests with no direct benefit to the students or the school but are required for accountability purposes. NH PACE avoids the problem of over-testing because the same performance assessments used for local grading also serve accountability purposes.

Accountability:

All parts of the assessment system described above count in state and federally required “accountability determinations.” Smarter Balanced assessments and SAT are, therefore, administered less frequently in NH PACE districts.