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?
In 2012-13, the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams replaced the 11th-grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) in math, reading, and science for purposes of student, educator, and school accountability. 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 re-take the exam.
WHEN WILL THE EXAMS BE OFFERED?
The Keystone Exams will be administered three times each year—winter, spring, and summer. Specific administration dates will be published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
WHO DECIDED WHAT KEYSTONE EXAMS SHOULD MEASURE?
Groups of educators from across Pennsylvania chose the areas of knowledge on which the Keystone Exams are based. The groups included teachers, supervisors, curriculum directors, and college specialists. These groups also reviewed, edited, and approved exam questions.
WHAT IS ASSESSED ON THE KEYSONE EXAMS?
Pennsylvania adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards, standards aligned with expectations for success in college and the workplace. The Keystones are designed to measure these standards.
HOW LONG IS A KEYSTONE EXAM ADMINISTRATION?
There is no time limit for a student to complete a Keystone Exam. Each Keystone Exam should take the typical student 2 to 3 hours to complete. There are two modules on each test, and each module (or Test Session) of the Keystone Exam should take 1 to 1.5 hours to complete.
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 ARE THE WRITTEN RESPONSES TO CONSTRUCTED-RESPONSE QUESTIONS SCORED?
The written responses for constructed-response questions are scored by evaluators trained in applying a pre-determined scoring system. Scores are based on content only. Spelling and punctuation are not included as part of the scoring process. Most constructed-response questions require students to show their work or explain their reasoning. These Keystone Exam questions will ask students to explain, analyze, describe, or compare. Some questions will also require students to perform calculations or create graphs, plots, or drawings.
HOW ARE THE RESULTS REPORTED?
Keystone Exam scores will be processed as quickly as possible and provided to the districts.
Two copies of the individual student report for all Keystone Exams will be sent to the school districts. In the Fall, one copy should be sent home to parents/guardians; the other is kept by the school/ district.
School-level reports will be used for curricular and planning purposes. School districts may publish the results of Keystone Exams for each school. The state will also release school-by-school data.
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.
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 school district superintendent prior to the beginning of the exam(s) to request their child be excused from the exam(s).
PERFORMANCE LEVEL DESCRIPTORS
The Advanced Level reflects superior academic performance indicating an in-depth understanding and exemplary display of the skills included in the Keystone Exams Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content.
The Proficient Level reflects satisfactory academic performance indicating a solid understanding and adequate display of the skills included in the Keystone Exams Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content.
The Basic Level reflects marginal academic performance, work approaching, but not yet reaching, satisfactory performance. Performance indicates a partial understanding and limited display of the skills included in the Keystone Exams Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content. The student may need additional instructional opportunities and/or increased student academic commitment to achieve the Proficient Level.
The Below Basic Level reflects inadequate academic performance that indicates little understanding and minimal display of the skills included in the Keystone Exams Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content. There is a major need for additional instructional opportunities and/or increased student academic commitment to achieve the Proficient Level.