KEYSTONE EXAMS are state-developed end-of-course assessments in designated content areas. Based upon Chapter 4 regulations, each KEYSTONE EXAM will be designed in modules that reflect distinct, related academic content common to the traditional progression of coursework. The KEYSTONE EXAMS serve two purposes:
- High school graduation requirements for students beginning with the class of 2023;
- High school accountability assessments for federal and state purposes.
All public and charter high schools in the State of Pennsylvania are held accountable for the participation and performance of all students in Algebra I, Biology and Literature Exams to satisfy the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The Algebra I and Literature KEYSTONE EXAMS include items aligned to the Assessment Anchors/Eligible Content aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The Biology KEYSTONE EXAM includes items aligned to the Assessment Anchor/Eligible Content aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science. All KEYSTONE EXAMS will include multiple-choice, constructed response, or open-ended questions.
More information on the KEYSTONE EXAMS can be found in the PA Department of Education’s Standard Aligned System (SAS) at: SAS Portal
and for Graduation Requirement Alternative Pathways at: Pathway Guidance
Keystone Exam FAQ
What are the KEYSTONE EXAMS?
The KEYSTONE EXAMS are state-mandated end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Biology and Literature. At the high school level, they replace the PSSA’s and are used to satisfy the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
Each KEYSTONE EXAM is divided into two parts called modules. Student scores are based on the total points earned from the two modules combined. The scores are then broken down into the following categories: Advanced, Proficient, Basic and Below Basic. Students must score in the Advanced or Proficient range to show their mastery of the content.
Why are the KEYSTONE EXAMS important?
Beginning with the Class of 2023, all students are required to show Proficiency on each of the KEYSTONE EXAMS to earn a high school diploma.
When do students take the KEYSTONE EXAMS?
Students must take a KEYSTONE EXAM at the end of each of the Keystone-assessed course. After the completion of the Biology course, students will take the Biology KEYSTONE EXAM.
EXAM – GRADE LEVEL ADMINISTERED (for most students)
- Algebra I – 7th, 8th, 9th grades during Geometry course
- Literature – 10th grade during Honors English 10 or CP English 10
- Biology – 11th grade during Honors Biology or CP Biology
How many times can a student take a KEYSTONE EXAM?
Students must demonstrate Proficiency to meet graduation requirements. Once a student scores Advanced or Proficient, he/she has met the graduation requirement and is finished with that exam.
What is the score breakdown for Advanced, Proficient, and Basic?
Keystone Exam Scale Score Ranges
If a student in the class of 2023 and beyond is unable to demonstrate Proficiency on a KEYSTONE EXAM, what support will he/she receive in preparation to retake the exam?
Students can receive supplemental instruction in order to prepare for the next attempt at the exam. Supplemental instruction will be through our Algebra Standards and Literature Standards 0.5 credit courses.
If a student scores Proficient, can they retest to attempt to earn an Advanced score?
No, the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not allow for retests once a student has scored Proficient.
My student scored Proficient or Advanced on the Algebra I KEYSTONE EXAM in middle school. Do they have to take it again in high school?
No, once a student scores Proficient or Advanced they have satisfied the state requirements for the content area.
Will my child receive accommodations on the KEYSTONE EXAMS?
Eligible students, in alignment with the Accommodation Guidelines as developed by Pennsylvania Department of Education, will receive accommodations as outlined within their IEP or 504 plan.
How will the District prepare my child?
District courses aligned with KEYSTONE EXAMS are designed to address the requirements of these tests.
Students who are required to take a KEYSTONE EXAM after already completing the course shall be provided with further information about KEYSTONE EXAMS from their teachers. Information about the test structure, subject content, and released test items will be made available.
What are the requirements for students in the class of 2022?
The majority of these students have already taken and demonstrated Proficiency on the KEYSTONE EXAMS.
Can my child opt out of the KEYSTONE EXAMS?
As with PSSA tests, parents may review KEYSTONE EXAMS per state regulations and opt out for religious reasons only. A student who is opted out due to religious reasons is still required under state law to demonstrate proficiency. Starting with the class of 2023, all students graduating from a Pennsylvania high school must demonstrate Proficiency on the KEYSTONE EXAMS. Graduation Requirement Alternative Pathways: Pathway Guidance
What happens if my child has a significant medical issue and cannot take a KEYSTONE EXAM during the testing window?
We encourage communication with your student’s counselor and building principal.
How can I support my student?
Encourage your student to relax and do their best. Students should be well-rested during the testing days. Continue to communicate with your student’s teachers and understand your child’s past and present performance.