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UL: NH needs to pick up the PACE, say business leaders

The Sunday edition of the Union Leader featured an editorial endorsing the PACE program in the BIA Business Perspectives column. The oped was submitted by Dick Couch and Barbara Couch of Hypertherm in Hanover, NH. Dick is the board chairman and Barbara is vice president for corporate social responsibility. We highlighted some pieces here, but it’s worth a read:

The article details the rapid pace at which business and technology evolve, and how employers struggle with new hires who are not ready for this fast paced workplace which demands 21st century skills.

Business has changed dramatically over the past two decades, and skills that are needed now are far different from those just a short time ago. Think of social media managers, app developers and cloud based engineers – positions that were not heard of 10 years ago. Teamwork, problem solving, technical and critical thinking skills are in high demand, but many employers are having a hard time finding these qualities in graduates from schools that up to now have been focused on old education models of lecturing and exams.

The problem is an outdated understanding of what graduates should be able to do when transitioning from school to the job market…

PACE brings 21st century skills into the classroom, placing focus on critical thinking, problem solving, communication and collaboration. It provides a way to measure student competency without teaching to the test…

PACE takes the fundamentals such as math, science, English and social studies, and builds on them by having students apply the content they learn through real world applications. This type of active learning or learning-by-doing increases student engagement and rigor. It also builds those 21st century skills that are in high demand in the workplace.

PACE gives teachers the freedom to design and teach in a way that works for their students. At times this looks unconventional – I would suggest innovative – and inspired. Classrooms are busy with noise and discussion. It can seem quite chaotic, like during an assignment in which students were asked to take what they learned in geometry and design a water tower that would serve their community.

In the beginning, some parents questioned if their children were learning enough. But because students are required to demonstrate mastery, it is clear that they are learning and at a much greater depth. They didn’t just learn it, they lived it. The process is empowering to educators and students alike. This is real education with real time assessment of learning.

This is what the business community is looking for, too. We want graduates who can adapt and change, anticipate and solve problems, collaborate and innovate at all levels and across all sectors. PACE looks to be an approach that fosters these skills in all kinds of students regardless of the path they want to take after high school. A PACE student going into the constructions trades, for example, or one going off to a four-year college will be prepared, rather than confused or uncertain about their future. We need to support efforts like these to see our communities and our economy flourish.

Read the full article here.

To get a better understanding of PACE, check out this infographic.

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