What are Keystone Exams?
The Pennsylvania Department of Education defines the Keystone Exams as: End-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in various subjects. Keystone exams are administered in Algebra 1, Biology, and Literature. The Keystone Exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s proposed system of high school graduation requirements. Keystone Exams will help school districts guide students toward meeting state standards. Overall student scores are reflected in the Future PA Ready Index posted on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.
What do Keystone scores mean?
The Keystone Exams in Literature, Algebra I, and Biology are end-of-course statewide exams, regardless of grade, and are the assessments that Pennsylvania uses to comply with accountability requirements in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Students are required to take Keystone Exams for purposes of federal accountability. Each state is expected to achieve a minimum of 95 percent participation on its statewide exams. Best Keystone proficiency level will be reported on official transcripts for English, Algebra I, and Literature.
All Pennsylvania students who take the Keystone Exams will earn one of the following score assessments: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic.
Once a student passes an exam (Proficient or Advanced), they do not have to retake the exam. If a student scores Basic or Below Basic, Charter Arts provides additional support and remediation through continued course work and tutoring before the student retakes the exam. Students are expected to retest at least once to attempt proficiency on each exam.
Students in the Class of 2023, and all classes after 2023, are required by The Pennsylvania Department of Education to meet the requirements of Act 158 in order to graduate. Act 158, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018, expanded the options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness using additional pathways that more fully illustrate college, career, and community readiness. Read more about Act 158 here. Students will attempt proficiency through each pathway described below in ascending order, beginning with Pathway 1.
PATHWAY #1: Keystone Proficiency Pathway
Proficient on all 3 Keystones
Students who have not yet met proficiency will continue to participate in remediation and retest.
PATHWAY #2: Keystone Composite Pathway
- Earned a non-numeric Proficient in a Keystone Exam pursuant to Act 136 of 2020;
- Successfully completes locally established, grade-based requirements for academic content associated
with each Keystone Exam in which the student does not have a numeric or non-numeric score of
- Achieves a Keystone Composite score of 2939 or greater for two of the three Keystone Exams
(calculated using the highest numerical scores attained by the student, neither of which may be Below
Basic and at least one of which must be Proficient or better).
PATHWAY #3: Evidence Based Pathway
End of course passing grade of at least 65% in Algebra 1, Biology, and Principles of Literary Analysis (English) AND
Three of the following:
- Proficient on at least one Keystone
- Meet the college readiness benchmark on PSAT, SAT, or ACT as determined annually by College Board/ACT
- Complete an approved internship program
- Acceptance to an accredited 2 or 4-year institution of higher education
- A letter guaranteeing full-time employment
- Enlistment into a branch of military service
The statewide graduation requirement takes effect for the graduating class of 2023. Beginning in the2022-2023 school year, the statewide graduation requirement will apply, as will any other locally-established policies and requirements. Please be aware that all public and charter schools in the state must comply with these regulations from PDE.
For additional questions, please contact our School Assessment Coordinator, Ann Marie Squerrini, firstname.lastname@example.org.