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Congratulations to Sanborn Regional School District for winning The Nellie Mae Foundation’s Lawrence W. O’Toole Award!

Sanborn Regional School District was recently awarded the Lawrence W. O’Toole Award, which is given to a district, individual, school, or nonprofit that exhibits great leadership through innovation in moving student-centered learning forward in New England. The Nellie Mae Education Foundation will present the award to the district at a ceremony later this year. (more…)

A Peek Inside New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment Pilot – Education Week

New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) program is closely followed throughout the country as a demonstration of how schools can reduce their use of once-a-year standardized assessments and move toward integrated classroom assessments – “performance assessments” – that contribute to learning while providing feedback on each student’s progress.

Here’s an interview with a PACE teacher who gives a clear view of how it all works.   (more…)

Have you heard confusing rumors about PACE and HB 323? Here are the facts you need.

The bill has become a lightning rod for people who just plain oppose NHDOE, some of whom want to shut it down.  But most legislators will acknowledge that the criticisms are baseless.

House Education Committee chair Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) wrote HB 323 as an expression of legislative support for the hard work done by four New Hampshire school districts and the department of education in creating a way for local classroom based assessments to replace some standardized tests.  Here is some background on New Hampshire’s innovative PACE program.

HB 323 passed the House with an overwhelmingly positive voice vote but has drawn opposition from some in the Senate based on serious misinformation provided by opponents of competency based education. (more…)

In districts experimenting with new tests, writing questions is only half the task–NHPR

NHPR chronicled the challenging process that four school districts are undertaking to roll out the highly anticipated PACE project. Teachers have been meeting with each other and the NH-based Center for Assessment to develop the assessment questions and to calibrate them, a process that ensures uniform grading among classrooms and districts. While the assessments aren’t “standardized,” in the usual meaning of the term, they do need to be comparable across districts to be valid measures of student learning, making the calibration process crucial in order for the PACE project to work. (more…)

New Hampshire testing pilot breaks the federal accountability mold–Clayton Christensen Institute

The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation featured an article on NH’s PACE program that, for the first time, begins to reduce the number of standardized tests students must take in their academic careers. The institute’s education research arm works to transform “monolithic, factory-model systems into student-centered designs,” so it is no wonder why they are interested in our innovative testing program. The Institute writes: (more…)

In first, four N.H. school districts shake up testing with Feds’ approval– Christian Science Monitor

Over the past month, New Hampshire has been getting nationwide recognition for a first-in-the-nation pilot program that moves beyond the annual standardized assessment schools have been giving for years. It’s called the Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) pilot project. PACE was featured in the Christian Science Monitor as a solution to fears of overtesting, as the program reduces the number of statewide standardized tests administered in elementary and middle school and replaces some of them with locally designed assessments: (more…)

‘Thank God for New Hampshire’ – EdWeek about the PACE locally managed assessment program

Here in New Hampshire, it’s easy to lose perspective on how important the PACE pilot program is.  Years in preparation, it is the nation’s first step beyond standardized testing.  The four participating districts – Sanborn, Rochester, Epping and Souhegan – are doing hard creative work that will clear the way for other districts in New Hampshire and eventually throughout the country.

That’s why Kentucky education commissioner said, (more…)

Manchester continues its anti-assessment push via its letter to parents describing opt-out procedure

The Union Leader reported on the Board of School Committee’s letter to parents explaining how they can pull their children from the statewide assessments in the coming weeks.  (more…)

Are we allowing children to “make up their own meaning?”

Here’s a sentence from a longer comment from “Jane,” a retired “35 year teacher.”  She was commenting on this post about the great teaching going on in Rochester schools:

“Let me remind you that if these children are engaging in constructivist learning they’re making up their own meaning for the text and that is somehow acceptable.”

Jane knew I wouldn’t post her comment and she was right.  It was just too full of bile and insults.  But I do want to address her real point because it is the kind of misunderstanding you hear a lot.

There’s a good discussion of what Jane is talking about in a journal for the folks who develop curriculums for public schools.  The article itself is pretty long, so I’ve pulled out some highlights: (more…)

Rochester teachers Melissa Cunliffe and Sara Cantrell talk about competency based learning and New Hampshire’s new assessment strategy

As one of New Hampshire’s four PACE school districts, Rochester is ground zero for working out the future New Hampshire public education, giving children the opportunity to learn in their own way.  But Rochester’s educators and their leadership are not being shown a new way to teach; they are building new ways for their children to learn, from the ground up.

To see how it’s going, I spent yesterday with the wonderful Maple Street Magnet School principal Robin Brown visiting five schools at every grade level.  I came away amazed at how completely this 4,300 student district and its 346 teachers have committed to their new path. (more…)