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Disaster relief mission makes math relevant for this pre-Calculus class

New Hampshire’s performance assessment model uses locally-developed assessments and requires students to show what they know by applying lessons to real world situations. This method fosters deeper learning and lasting retention of information. What does that look like? Check out this video to see a real performance assessment in action, from Edutopia

In this assessment, air traffic controllers in the classroom relayed information to pilots in the gymnasium, and both have to use pre-Calculus concepts to complete the mission. Students are graded on their accuracy, supporting work, calculations, and how they worked together as a team.

These types of assessments are used in districts that are participating in New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE) program, too. In the eight districts that are piloting the program, teachers work across districts to create assessments like this one. They’re consistent and have strict grading rubrics (developed locally), so that the way they are measured is the same across all classes, schools, and districts. In fact, it replaces four of the seven required standardized tests–so kids only have to take the end-of-the-year standardized tests in three grades. This means no teaching to the test with PACE!

PACE assessments are given throughout the year, enabling teachers to immediately identify gaps in knowledge or skills and adjust their teaching. They don’t have to wait for standardized test results that are often released the following year. And, students are more engaged and challenged than they were with the standardized tests which require rote memorization.

Principal Jeff Finch summed up why schools–including New Hampshire PACE districts–are using performance assessments to measure student performance:

“We ask our teachers is the performance that we want from kids short-term memory? Or do we want comprehensive understanding of big ideas?”

Is the performance that I can solve an algorithm that was handed to me on a piece of paper? Or is the performance that I can solve a real-world problem that I have to determine the appropriate algorithms to use to begin with?”

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Read the full article here.

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