Keystone Exams

Keystone Exams

Pennsylvania Keystone Exams

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has initiated a new standardized test protocol for Pennsylvania high school students.  Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in the following subject areas: Algebra I, Biology, and Literature.  Pending funding, PDE also plans to implement Keystone Exams in English Composition and Civics and Government.

The Keystone Exams are made up of both multiple choice and open-ended response questions.  We will continue to make decisions that provide our students with excellent educational experiences, yet meet the mandates of the state.

Keystone Exam Spring 2017 Student Reports

The past May, students at Susquehanna High School participated in the administration of the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Biology, and/or Literature.  Individual student results were mailed home in September.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires all non-proficient students to receive remediation in the corresponding Keystone content area, and all non-proficient students may retake the exam as many times as necessary to demonstrate proficiency before the end of their Grade 11 year.  Please continue to encourage your child to do their best on their scheduled Keystone Exams, and know that remedial actions are State-mandated.  As a result, course selections will be altered to include interventions in the course or courses your child’s results indicate he/she needs to insure success.

Information for Parents or Guardians

Below are Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Keystone Exams.  More detailed information about Keystone Exam testing will be provided by the middle school and the high school.  Printable FAQ documents are attached below.

What are the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content.  The Keystone Exams will serve a dual purpose.

1) All students must participate in the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams by the conclusion of Grade 11.

2) Beginning with the class of 2020, students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams in order to graduate.  Students will be offered multiple opportunities to take the Keystone Exams throughout their high school careers.  If a student does not achieve a proficient score by the end of Grade 11, a Project Based Assessment would need to be completed in order to meet state graduation requirements.

When will the Keystone Exams be administered for 2017-18?

Susquehanna Community School District will administer exams during the following windows:

Winter Wave 2     January 8-22, 2018

Spring                 May 14-25, 2018

Summer              July 30 – Aug 3, 2018

The Keystone Exams may be administered three times each year- winter, spring, and summer.  Specific administration dates will be published annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

What is assessed on the Keystone Exams?

Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core Standards, which are standards aligned with expectations for success in college and the workplace.  The Keystone Exams are designed to measure these standards.

Who will participate in the Keystone Exams during each 2017-18 testing window?

Students enrolled in the specified Grade levels and/or courses listed below will be taking the Keystone Exams during the 2017-18 school year:

Algebra I and Algebra A


English 10

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 approximately two to three hours to complete.  There are two modules on each test, and each module (or Test Session) of the Keystone Exam should take one to one and half hours to complete.  Districts may select to administer the entire Keystone Exam at once or do each module on separate, consecutive days.

What are the available formats for administering the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams are available in both online and paper/pencil formats.  SCSD will be employing the paper/pencil format in 2017-18.

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% to 75% of the total score will be from multiple-choice questions and 25% to 40% of the total score will be from constructed-response questions.  The English Composition Keystone Exam will be an exception, with 20% of the total score from multiple-choice questions and 80% of the total score 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.  Except for English Composition, 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.

Are students permitted to take a Keystone Exam more than once?

Students who fail to score proficient in the Keystone Exams are allowed to retake the Keystone Exams as many times as they wish through the end of their Grade 11 years.  If a student tests the Keystone Exam multiple times, the students’ best overall score will be used for reporting when that student reaches Grade 11.  The student’s best overall score is a combination of both module 1 and module 2 and may be derived from multiple test administrations.

Is the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education planning to create alternative assessments for the Keystone Exams?

No.  Special Education students with severe cognitive disabilities will continue to take the PASA in place of the Keystone Exams.  Only Special Education students who participate in the PASA are exempt from the Keystone Exam requirements.

From time to time, the district experiences phone line issues. If you should run into a problem calling in, parents may still contact the Elementary and High School Offices at the following numbers: Elementary School - (570) 853-3092 or High School - (570) 853-3918.