Keystone Exam Overview

What are the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content. Beginning with the class of 2019, students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams to graduate. Students will be offered multiple opportunities to take the Keystones throughout their high school career.

Who will participate in the Keystone Exams?

Students should take the Keystone Exams at or near the end of a Keystone-related course. The students’ results are banked until their junior year for accountability purposes and until their senior year for graduation purposes. Some students who previously completed a Keystone-related course but did not take the Keystone Exam will also participate for accountability purposes. Additionally, students who take a Keystone Exam and do not score Proficient may retake the exam.

Specifically students who are completing 10th grade English, Algebra I, and Biology. Additionally, any students who have already taken a Keystone Exam and did not score Proficient or Advanced will be provided the opportunity to retest.

What types of questions are on the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams will include multiple-choice questions and constructed-response, or open-ended, questions. For each Keystone Exam, approximately 60 percent to 75 percent of the total score will be from multiple-choice questions and 25 percent to 40 percent of the total score will be from constructed-response questions.

How is a student’s score determined and recorded?

The student’s best overall score is determined by calculating the highest overall module score from any exam (each comprehensive Keystone Exam consists of two modules). Each student’s best overall score will be banked until their 11th grade year, where it will be reported for the School Performance Profile, school, state and county wide accountability data.

Per Pennsylvania law, beginning with the graduating Class of 2017 a student’s best scores on each of the Keystone Exams will be included on their transcript.

Are the Keystone Exams a graduation requirement for my student?

Participation in state assessments, particularly Keystone Exams, remains a federal requirement; however, students graduating prior to 2019 do not need to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.  Although proficiency on the Keystone Exams is not a graduation requirement prior to 2019, the highest proficiency rating must be recorded on student transcripts.

Given the uncertainty of future requirements, it is recommended that course completion and grades be used as graduation requirements for the graduating classes of 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Keystone Retesting

Students who do not score Proficient on the Keystone exam may retake the exam until the completion of their Junior year. The district will offer interventions after every unsuccessful attempt of a Keystone in accordance with the district’s Keystone Intervention Plan. Click Here to view the district’s Keystone Intervention Plan for grades 6-12.

Both the middle school and high school are equipped to remediate students who do not score proficient on these exams. In addition, the PA Department of Education provides an online course through iTunesU called Pennsylvania Learns to assist in remediating students for the Keystone Exam.

When will this year’s Keystone Exams be held?

All initial testing days will be run as a two-hour delay schedule for all non-testing students. Transportation will be provided at at both the normal time for all students that are testing and on the two-hour delay for those students who are not testing.

Algebra Exam - 2hr Delay for Non-Testers

Monday, May 15th and Wednesday, May 17th

Literature Exam - 2hr Delay for Non-Testers

Thursday, May 18th and Monday, May 22nd

Biology Exam - 2hr Delay for Non-Testers

Tuesday, May 23rd and Wednesday, May 24th

Make Up Exams - Normal School Days

Friday, May 19th, Thursday, May 25th and Friday, May 26th


May parents see the Keystone Exams?                   

Parents and guardians may review the Keystone Exams if they believe they may be in conflict with their religious beliefs by making arrangements with the School Test Coordinator once the exams arrive at the school. Confidentiality agreements must be signed, and no copies of the Keystone Exams or notes about exam questions will be permitted to leave the school.


What if I want to opt my student out of the Keystone Exams?

If, after reviewing the Keystone Exams, parents or guardians do not want their child to participate in one or all of the exams due to a conflict with their religious beliefs, they may write a letter specifying their objection to the assistant principal to request their child be excused from the exam(s).

What if I do not want my student retested in the same subject?

If your student has already taken the exam and was not proficient, you may request that they not be retested. To do this you must submit a signed letter to the assistant principal specifying this request. This letter will not exclude students from taking exams in which they have not already tested.

For example: If Student A took the Algebra I Keystone Exam in 9th Grade and you wish for them not to take it again, a letter must be provided to the assistant principal.