What is a Pace Setter Classroom?

Where a Pace Setter District is a New Hampshire school district that has replaced some of its annual assessments with performance assessments, a Pace Setter Classroom is the classroom of any New Hampshire teacher, on the path toward personalized, competency-based learning and New Hampshire’s work study practices.  A Pace Setter Classroom can be in a Pace Setter District or any other school district.

Here’s more background.

After years moving step-by-step toward competency-based education, a number of New Hampshire school districts have begun moving on to the next logical step: they are making interesting and challenging projects to assess how much students know about the academic subject, how well they are able to put that knowledge to work and solve problems with it. Now, instead of setting time aside for testing, teachers can make “performance assessments” (or tasks) in which students can learn and show what they know at the same time.

A Performance Assessment (or task) is a multistep assignment with clear expectations and criteria for results. It allows teachers to assess how well a student applies academic knowledge and complex skills to a real world problem, and uses work study practices to produce an original product.

Any teacher can do this in any classroom any time. But performance assessments can be so much more exciting and engaging for students that the New Hampshire Department of Education is offering school districts the opportunity to develop the skills they need to use performance tasks throughout their schools. This is the “Performance Assessment for Competency Education,” or PACE program.

PACE performance tasks are developed across districts by teachers and reviewed by state and national assessment experts. The assessments align with classroom units of study and course competencies. Teachers give the assessments as part of the regular classroom schedule and scores count toward a student’s course grade as well as state accountability.

Some districts are further down the competency road than others but any school district can apply to participate in the PACE program. Each district can get the training it needs to move further down the path to competency-based education and creating high quality performance assessments.

When the teachers are ready, a district can become a Pace Setter District and replace some of its end of the year standardized tests with the performance assessments it gives all year. That means teachers in that district are so good at creating and grading performance assessments that parents, voters and policy makers can rely on them to hold themselves accountable. Instead of two separate assessment systems – one to help teachers adjust their teaching and a separate one to hold schools accountable – one locally managed assessment serves both purposes.

Students find performance assessments inspiring and engaging:

  • Souhegan junior Mitch Greany says, “PACE allows students to be creative, expand their thinking, and even have more fun with it.”
  • Sanborn Regional High School freshman Hailey Simes, says, “In a performance assessment, I can show what I know.”
  • Souhegan junior Katy Osterholz: “We were able to be independent and collaborative in the same lab, which is such an important part of learning….”My thoughts and my knowledge were actually taken into account.”
  • Souhegan junior Emily Loose: “The PACE assessment created a more realistic and enjoyable experience that demanded social skills, critical thinking, and ability to analyze.”
  • Souhegan sophomore Elizabeth Apple: “The performance assessment made me feel like a scientist, a feeling I had never felt before in any science class – ever.”
  • Souhegan senior Meaghan Kalinowski: “Performance assessment puts the focus on real life skills rather than tedious classroom procedures.”

For more information, here is the PACE page on the New Hampshire Department of Education