Performance Assessment of Competency Education

New Hampshire's PACE is a first-in-the-nation accountability strategy that offers a reduced level of standardized testing together with locally developed common performance assessments.

What is PACE?

New Hampshire’s PACE (Performance Assessment of Competency Education) is an innovative assessment and accountability system grounded in a competency-based educational approach designed to ensure that students have meaningful opportunities to achieve critical knowledge and skills. The PACE system is designed to support deeper learning for students and powerful organization change for schools and districts using a combination of local, common and state level assessments.

The core of the PACE innovative assessment system is locally-developed, locally-administered performance assessments tied to grade and course competencies determined by local school districts that are aligned with the State’s challenging academic content standards.

In each grade and subject, one common complex performance task, the PACE Common Task, is collaboratively developed and administered by all participating schools and districts. The PACE common tasks are designed to serve as calibration tools, providing evidence about the comparability of judgments related to student achievement across New Hampshire PACE schools and districts. Comparability means that if a student is deemed proficient in one district, that same student would also be deemed proficient in another school district.

Determinations of student proficiency, required under federal law, are produced using: (1) educator judgments at the end of the school year based on which achievement level best describes each of their students; and, (2) end of year competency scores for each student. PACE is designed so that the resulting levels are comparable in rigor and substance to the statewide assessment by using achievement level descriptors that are aligned across the two systems.

The statewide assessments are administered in the grades and subjects when student performance will be most useful for informing programs and auditing the innovative assessment system—grade 3 English language Arts (ELA), grade 4 mathematics; grade 8 ELA and mathematics; and, grade 11 ELA, mathematics and high school science.


PACE is a learning system designed to structure learning and assessment opportunities allowing students to gain and demonstrate their knowledge and skills at a depth of understanding that will transfer beyond K-12 education to success in careers and college.

The primary objective of the PACE innovative assessment and accountability system is to improve student outcomes by transforming instruction and assessment in classrooms across the State. The following key components will help achieve better results for all students:

  • Explicit involvement of local educational leaders in designing and implementing the assessment system;
  • Intense and reciprocal support on behalf of the New Hampshire Department of Education for local districts involved in this initiative that will include technical, policy, and practical guidance;
  • Utilize competency-based education approaches to instruction, learning and assessment as a purposeful approach to ensure all students, from the most advanced to the most challenged, move on only when they have mastered critical knowledge and skills; and,
  • Utilize instructionally-relevant, high-quality performance-based assessments, alongside periodic administration of the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System (NH SAS) and SAT School Day of state standards in ELA, mathematics and science for the purpose of tracking and reporting the progress of students, schools, districts, and educators.

If you have any questions or are interested in applying for inclusion in PACE for your school/district accountability, please feel free to contact:

Melissa White
Administrator for Academics & Assessment
(603) 271-3855

Technical Documents and Manuals

Published Writing on PACE