Rochester School Department

150 Wakefield Street - Suite #8
Rochester, New Hampshire 03867
phone 603.332.3678 - fax 603.335.7367

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Performance Assessments & PACE Accountability Strategy Frequently Asked Questions

What are performance assessments?
Performance assessments are defined as multistep assignments with clear criteria, expectations, and processes that measure how well a student transfers knowledge, applies complex skills, and uses study practices to create or refine an original product.

Why does the Rochester School District want to use performance assessments?
Performance assessments require a deeper understanding of content, which means our students will have this knowledge to draw on for future learning and work opportunities.

Who in the Rochester School District is using performance assessments?
In our district, all teachers 1 – 12 are creating and using summative performance assessments. In addition to including specific grade-level content competencies in the performance assessments, all teachers this year are including argument/opinion writing. Argument/opinion writing has been a focus this year for our district. No matter the content area, teachers are using the district’s K -12 writing rubrics.

Why include writing?
Research supports that when students write it has significant and positive effects on their learning. Specifically, “when students improve the quantity and quality of their writing, they improve in reading comprehension, math, science and social studies.” (Writing Boosts Achievement, Doug Reeves)

What are examples of performance assessments?
In English, middle school students might submit research papers showing that they know how to analyze and present information from many sources. In math, fourth-graders might design and cost out a new park and write a letter to their city councilors arguing their perspective based on their calculations and other evidence.

How do performance assessments fit with Performance Assessment for Competency Education (PACE)?
The PACE project has been widely followed in education circles as demonstrating a strategy for reducing the nation’s reliance on standardized testing while providing assessments that give meaningful feedback for students, parents and teachers. PACE districts will give the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment statewide assessment once per content area (ELA/Math) in elementary school, middle school and high school – three times per content area instead of seven. Grades 3-8 students will take the NH Statewide Assessment System (NH SAS) for ELA/writing and mathematics. Grade 11 students will take the College Board School Day SAT. In the offsetting years that students don’t take the statewide assessment, the PACE districts will administer carefully designed common and local “performance assessments” developed by the districts themselves and validated at the state level. What is so powerful about the summative assessments used as part of PACE is that they have been created by our teachers and fit directly with the work our students are engaged in on a daily basis. They matter to our students.

When will my child be taking the performance assessments?
Although all students are taking performance assessments throughout the year, only specific grades/content areas will be taking performance assessments that will be included in the PACE accountability system. Your child’s school will share specific time periods when the PACE performance assessments will be administered. This table outlines which grades/content areas are included for PACE and which grades are included for the NH SAS.

How will I know how my child is doing?
Your child’s results on his/her summative performance assessments are part of your child’s competency-based grade. You can regularly check your child’s progress through the Infinite Campus parent portal and/or during the grade reports sent home throughout the school year. Once the Smarter Balanced assessment results are received by the school, they will be shared with families.

What if my child has special needs?
Your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) Team will work together to make sure that any accommodations, if necessary, are in place for your child during the summative performance assessments and/or Smarter Balanced assessment. If you have questions, please contact your child’s Special Education Case Manager.

What is the PACE accountability strategy?
In the past, school accountability was measured through results on one point in time and one assessment, the NECAP. The PACE accountability strategy will look at various factors to determine if schools are demonstrating progress. These factors will include our competency-based grades, performance assessment scores and NH SAS results. This will provide a multi-faceted view of how our students and schools are doing. Our district progress on PACE and other district identified goals will be shared in our annual district report card. Our report card can be found on our district’s website homepage:

How can I find out more information on PACE and NH SAS?

Additional information for PACE can be found at:

NH Department of Education - Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE)
NH Statewide Assessment System (SAS) - Assessment