Keystone Exams Overview


In 2012, thePennsylvania Department of Education eliminated the grade 11 PSSA assessmentsin Reading, Math, Science, and Writing.  These tests had been in place to comply with the requirements outlined in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. More specifically, student performance on these PSSA exams was a graduation requirement and part of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures required by NCLB. These assessments are now replaced by Keystone Exams.


Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania School Code notes that students must demonstrate mastery of the PA Core Standards on the Keystone Exams. Keystone Exams currently exist for Algebra 1, Biology, and Literature.  These exams are typically taken during the spring of the year in which a student is enrolled in the appropriate course,regardless of the grade he or she is in. For instance, a student will take the Biology Keystone Exam when he or she is enrolled in a Biology course in 9th or10th grade. The Literature Keystone Exam is aligned to North Allegheny’s 10th Grade English course.  If a student does not receive a score of “Advanced” or “Proficient” on a Keystone Exam, the student is permitted to take a re-test during designated windows established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. If a student continues to receive a less than “Proficient” score on future retests, the student will be able to demonstrate mastery through the completion of a Proj­ect Based Assessment as outlined in the Pennsylvania School Code.

The following link provides additional information and resources about Keystone Exams from the Pennsylvania Department of Education website: