- New Hampshire’s Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) has served as a model for how to use alternative assessment forms to replace standardized tests or end-of-year exams. Now, districts participating in PACE will use those assessments for accountability purposes under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
- Teachers in the PACE districts will have input in designing the assessments, which are connected to what students are learning throughout the year.
- The state is the second, after Louisiana, to take advantage of the flexibility under the law’s Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority, which was designed to encourage development of the “next generation of assessments," according to a Tuesday U.S. Department of Education press release.
The pilot — for up to seven states — allows participants to avoid double testing students on both alternative assessments and those required by their states. It’s also viewed as a way to bring more balance to assessments after the use of standardized, multiple choice tests proliferated during the No Child Left Behind era.
While innovative assessment projects have been growing across the country, it can be challenging to spread them across a district, much less multiple districts across a state, which may explain why applications for the pilot have been limited. Teachers need planning time to create performance assessments — such as essays, projects and demonstrations — that align to standards and are graded in a uniform way.
Even though only two states have gotten approval to participate so far, the hope is that lessons learned from the pilot will be shared more broadly and give other states roadmaps for how to make assessment more connected to students’ daily experiences.