How to Use PACES with Teens

How do the PACES work for teens?

There may be other resources on the web that explain what the PACES are and how they work, but I want to write a guide from the perspective of explaining the ACE curriculum to the parents of teens who will be using PACES for the first time to do a high school course.

The video below is an explanation  I created for some parents who will be using PACES soon with a teen, either for just one course or for all of their high school curriculum. Following that is a summary of the same points made in the video. At the end of this article is a review of the steps a parent needs to take to ensure that their teen is using the curriculum properly.

There is a great “Start-Up Packet” that ACE sells to new homeschool families which includes a more thorough Guide booklet with recommended procedures as well as forms to use. I did an “unpacking” video a while back to show what is in this kit

What are the PACES?

A typical high school textbook and workbook might be divided up into 12 or so chapters or units. ACE has taken one year’s worth of work in a subject and divided it into 12 PACES (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education) and each PACE is roughly equivalent to one unit of study. A student must complete all 12 PACES in order to earn one high school “credit.” ACE has a full set of PACES for grades 1-12 in English, Math, Science, and Social Studies (history) as well as several electives.

Since each level of a subject has 12 PACES, and there are 12 levels, that means there are a total of 144 PACES per subject from 1st to 12th grade. Tenth grade, for example, would be PACES 109-120 and Level 11 would be 121-132.

Planning one’s work for a school year is fairly easy. Since each school year is 4 quarters of 9 weeks each, a student needs to complete one PACE per subject every 3 weeks. That breaks down to a daily goal of 3-4 pages per day. Take the number of pages in a given PACE and divide by 12 and you’ll have a good guide for goal setting (some PACES are up to 60 pages long, others may be closer to 36). The extra 3 days in the 3 week cycle are for the PACE test, study days, or other unexpected interruptions.

How are the PACES structured?

Each PACE has instructional material followed by questions to answer or problems to solve to demonstrate that the student has understood and learned the new material. After several pages of teaching and drill, there is a Check-Up, which is like a Quiz that reviews the content on the previous pages. Students should stop, score and correct everything leading up to the check-up, and then do the Check-Up, treating it like a test (without looking back). Some of the high school level PACES have review material at Quizlet that other students or staff have created, or a student can make his own, which helps him learn the content better.

In the middle of the High School Science PACES are labs (using DVDs sold separately) and each English PACE in the high school has a Wisdom Pac that needs to be completed any time before the Self Test. Some of the high school Science and Social Studies PACES have separate workbook sections that have to be removed from the middle of the PACE; the rest of the PACE is a reading text that coordinates with the Worktext. Watch the video above for tips on how to remove the tests and worktext easily.

At the end of the PACE is a Self Test that reviews the content of the entire PACE. Students should review all three Check-ups, and then look over the Self Test to see if there are any questions they don’t know with confidence. Once all the studying is completed, students should do the Self Test under testing conditions (no looking back). For the high school level PACES, check for “Test Tips” elsewhere on this website that help students know what other content should be reviewed before the test.

In the very center of every PACE is a final PACE Test that should be REMOVED before the student begins working in the PACE. Once the student has finished working through the entire PACE and passed the Self-Test (preferably with a 90% or better score), he turns in the PACE. The next morning he can complete the PACE test under testing conditions. The parent scores the PACE test and that score becomes the “grade” for that PACE. Averaging all 12 PACE test scores results in the final grade for the course.

Summary: The Steps in Doing a PACE

  1. New PACE is issued to the student and a target test date is determined for finishing the PACE.
  2. The PACE Test in the middle of the PACE is removed and filed in a secure place where the student will not have access to it.
  3. Student sets daily goals of 3-5 pages per day in order to complete the PACE in 3 weeks or less.
  4. Student works through the assigned pages doing all assignments with pencil.
  5. After completing each day’s goal, a student should compare his answers to the correct answers in the Score Key. Any wrong answers should be marked with an X using a red pen.
  6. All wrong answers should be erased and corrected, then rescored. If correct, a circle is drawn around the X.
  7. When a student encounters a Check-Up he should not work past it until he has studied for and completed the Check-Up under testing conditions (no looking back). Before starting the Check-Up, the supervisor (parent) should review all the preceding pages to be sure all work has been completed, scored, and corrected, and that writing assignments or memory work has been done (look for “Supervisor Score” notes at the bottom of pages).
  8. A passing score of 85-90% is required before moving on in the PACE. If the score is less than that, the supervisor needs to determine what caused the low score – lack of study, poor scoring habits, rushing, etc – and address the problem.
  9. After completing all three check-ups and before doing the Self-Test the Supervisor should review the whole PACE looking for any uncompleted assignments. Writing assignments, science labs or projects, English Wisdom Pacs, maps in World Geography, etc should be completed before the Self Test.
  10. Check for any test tips for high school courses before turning in the PACE for the final PACE test.
  11. After turning in the PACE, the student may take the PACE test the next morning. The Supervisor grades the test and the score becomes the final grade for that PACE.
  12. If a student scores less than a minimum passing score (80-85%), he has not mastered the content well enough to move on and should be required to work through a new copy of the same PACE. This is a “Mastery-Based” approach to learning which means a student must not move on without demonstrating that he has learned the content adequately.

Obviously, in a homeschool setting, there may be some of these specific guidelines that need to be tweaked. However, following these steps as recommended by ACE – even in a homeschool setting – will provide good structure and ensure mastery of the content. Short-cuts will lead to learning gaps, lazy habits, and even cheating (taking answers he hasn’t earned) which will snowball into bigger character issue.

One Comment to “How to Use PACES with Teens”

  1. Thank you! Very informative and helpful

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