Keystone Exam Overview

What are the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams are state end of course assessments designed to measure student mastery of state standards in Literature, Algebra 1, and Biology. Assessment of all students in mathematics, reading, and science at least once at the high school level is required by both the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Chapter 4 of the state education code.

Who takes the Keystone Exams?

Because the Keystone Exams are end of course exams, they are administered at the end of a particular course rather than in an identified grade. In the NPSD, the exams are administered at the end of the Algebra 1, Grade 10 English, and Grade 10 Biology courses. Students in these courses do not take a district final exam.

When are the Keystone Exams administered?

The Keystone Exams have Winter, Spring, and Summer testing windows. Districts determine the exact testing days for each subject within the window.

How long are the Keystone Exams?

All Keystone Exams consist of two sessions, or modules. Each module requires about one hour of testing time.

How are students scored on the Keystone Exams?

Students are awarded points for correct answers. The open-ended questions that require students to write an extended response are scored against a rubric by teams of assessors. The total number of points earned by a student is converted to scaled score and a proficiency level. The four proficiency levels are Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. Students at the Proficient or Advanced levels are considered to have mastered the standards for that course.

Is my student required to pass the Keystone Exams to graduate?

Chapter 4 of the state education code requires all students beginning with the Class of 2019 to pass all three Keystone Exams to graduate. Students who are not Proficient on their first attempt may retake the exams and/or complete a Project-Based Assessment after receiving additional instruction. Career and Technical students may demonstrate proficiency on an industry certification exam such as the NOCTI in lieu of attaining a Proficient score on the Keystone Exams. Students with disabilities and their parents should work with their IEP teams to identify applicable graduation requirements.

How do I find out my student's score on the Keystone Exams?

Student best scores are posted in the Home Access Center (HAC) in the summer. Hard copy student reports are made available by the state about two months after testing and are sent home to parents.

Where can I find more information about the Keystone Exams?

Keystone Exams Resource Materials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education

Statewide Keystone Exams Scores

Student Report Guides in Multiple Languages