U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan Visits Souhegan

U.S. Senior Maggie Hassan visits Souhegan to talk about PACE assessments.


On Monday, Senator Hassan visited Souhegan High school to look at how students work with the PACE program, a competency-based alternative to standardized testing. As governor, Hassan worked with New Hampshire’s Department of Education to help create and launch PACE, which stands for Performance Assessment of Competency Education. She was greeted with a warm welcome and principal Rob Scully said, “We are honored to host Senator Hassan on behalf of the entire SAU39 District…. Our district’s commitment to implementing meaningful performance-based assessments is being recognized at the state and national level…. Senator Hassan will play a significant role in directing the future of public education. By visiting Souhegan High School, Senator Hassan has clearly indicated that SAU39’s commitment to competency-based education and project-based learning is the future of education.” While at Souhegan, Senator Hassan asked questions to a student panel and visited classrooms to see PACE in action.

Senator Hassan visited both science and English classes working on PACE assessments. While in the classrooms Senator Hassan discussed PACE with teachers, observed students working, and gathered students’ opinions. She spent the most time in Jenny Deenik’s science classroom where she watched students work on a genetics assessment and talked to a few concerning their opinions of PACE.

Senator Hassan then met with a student panel. One of the most important topics discussed was how PACE prepares students for higher education. PACE assessments tend to relate to real world scenarios and many students confirmed that PACE made them feel more prepared. Senior Katy Osterholtz said, “The skills I learned in PACE really transcend into all the things that I do in my life… it’s being able to problem solve and work with someone that you maybe don’t really want to, and I see that in places like my job.”

After the student panel Senator Hassan commented that she “was hoping to see some of the PACE assessment programs in action and I got a chance to see that, which was really exciting.” The day after Senator Hassan’s visit to Souhegan, Hassan brought her experience down to Washington, D.C, “What I’ll try to do is help my colleagues in Washington understand what a difference the PACE approach can really make for our students….” Senator Hassan hopes that more schools in the state will adopt PACE as well as the rest of the country. Overall, she really emphasized that “making sure we are tailoring education to meet the needs of students in the 21st century is really important,” and she believes that balancing standardized testing with a competency-based program, like PACE, is essential in doing that.


Kristin Meader is a junior at Souhegan High School and a staff reporter for The Claw.