Seven Rules to Get Off to a Good Start

Your goal as a parent or supervisor is that your student truly learns the content in the PACES and masters it well enough to pass the PACE tests. You want her to get a good education. Kids in general want to find short-cuts and often their goal is to get done as quickly and easily as possible. But if you allow your children to set the procedures and practices, they will end up short-circuiting their own education. Here are several rules that ACE recommends that have been time-tested to significantly improve the quality of education your student will receive while using the PACES. Follow these 7 rules to get off to a good start on your school year.

1.       Set Daily Goals

It might be tempting to let your children just work in their PACES and do as much per day as they want, but that would be a mistake. One of the strengths of the ACE program is that it teaches students the important life-skill of setting and accomplishing goals. Proverbs says, “The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.”  Students should be taught how to take the big project (getting 12 PACES done per subject per year) and breaking it down to smaller manageable projects. Basically it should take about 3 weeks to finish each PACE, which works out to 3-5 pages per day. It is helpful for students to use a tool like a goal card to plan their work. First, in pencil, plan out a week’s worth of work. Then each morning write the goals in pen. The daily goals become a commitment to get that quantity of work done. There need to be consequences if they are not finished that day. Goals should not be changed by the student once they are written in pen. Students need to learn to keep commitments and meet deadlines. I also highly recommend that students work in every subject every day – not “binge” on their favorite subject and leave the tough one for “later.”

2.       Score PACE work every day

Research has shown that students always learn better when they get immediate feedback. So the practice of scoring every subject every day, as close to finishing that day’s goals as possible, is the best practice. Some homeschooling parents choose to score their children’s work for them. In a school setting that is rarely possible and students have to be trusted to score independently. That being said, it is important to check their scoring practices periodically and be sure they are being accurate. It is also important that the wrong answers be fixed as soon as possible and rescored.

3.       Do scoring in a separate location

I have seen homeschool students working on their daily goals in their PACES with the scorekeys open and laying nearby. Though they may not be just copying answers, it would sure be a temptation to do that and that would short-circuit their learning of the content. It is much better for students to move to a different location to access the scorekeys and do their scoring.

4.       Use a red pen for all scoring and rescoring

Students should NOT be allowed to simply erase and change their answers while scoring. They should compare their PACE to the score key and with a Red Pen mark with an “X” any they miss. Then they should go back to their work station area and look up the correct answers and change them. After that they should return to the scorekey to verify that the answer is correct. If it is, they can now circle the X with the red pen. It is also recommended that students find the correct answer in the text of the PACE and highlight so that the supervisor knows they have not just copied the answer from the key but have had to think about it.

5.       Do NOT look back while taking Check-Ups and tests

Check-ups and Self-Tests should be treated like tests. In other words, once a student commits to starting the assessment, he should not be looking back in the PACE to find or copy answers. I encourage students to look over the Check-up before they begin and see if there are any questions they are not sure of, and look up those answers before starting. It is helpful to make a study guide to review and master those questions. In a school setting, students have to get the supervisor’s permission and initial before starting the Check-up and they are closely supervised while taking the test. For Self-Tests we usually staple the PACE shut first so that only the Self-Test is open.

6.       Keep the PACE Tests under lock and key

The PACE test is your only check that your student has mastered the content in the PACE. Therefore, the PACE test should be removed immediately from the center of the PACE and put in a folder and kept in dad’s sock drawer or locked in a cabinet where only mom knows its location. Students need to learn how to review and study the check-ups and self-test in the PACE and try to master the content so that they can do well on the final PACE test. The questions on the PACE test are often worded differently than on the Self Test in order to determine that they have not just memorized a word to fill in a given blank, but truly know the content. Some times I have seen homeschoolers using the PACES and find that the PACE test is still stapled in the middle. That should be considered a big “No-no!”

7.       Treat Failed PACE tests seriously

If a student scores below 80% on any PACE test, they have NOT mastered the content and should not be allowed to move on to the next PACE. In a school setting, the student is issued a repeat PACE to work through again at a faster rate so as not to fall behind. The supervisor checks in frequently to make sure proper scoring and studying techniques are being used throughout the PACE and the student is quizzed extensively before taking the PACE test again. Again, your ultimate goal as parent and educator is that your child get a good education and not end up with “gaps” in their learning.

If a student is consistently scoring too closely to the 80% cut-off mark, I encourage them to explore other study techniques, see if there are Test Tips available for that subject, and do oral quizzing with the supervisor before turning in the PACE for the test. Look for Quizlet study guides.


Whether you are just starting a new school year, or need a “reboot” in the middle of the year, these seven rules will serve you and your student well and ensure that he is getting a good education from the PACES.

If you have other rules that you would include in this Essential List, add them in the comments below please!


5 Comments to “Seven Rules to Get Off to a Good Start”

  1. I have 8 successful children who started doing PACES as early as 3-4 years old. Today they hold high positions in private foreign companies and have self discipline!

  2. While grading my sons PACE if he makes a 100% Misses none, has no miss spellings that would mean he makes a grade of 100. If the TEST KEY says total points = 99 does this mean the highest grade I can give him is a 99% for this test subject? (Just seems discouraging when he is working so hard) if yes will this drop his over all grades at the end of the quarter even if he does well?

    1. No, always deduct points FROM 100% possible. If nothing is marked wrong, don’t give a score of 99 — give 100!

  3. You mentioned it being helpful to make a study guide. How do you instruct a student to do that? Especially for science and social studies.

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