Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams are state-mandated end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Biology and Literature. At the high school level, they are used to satisfy the requirements of Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).
Each Keystone Exam is divided into two parts called modules. Student scores are based on the total points earned from the two modules combined. The scores are then broken down into the following categories: Advanced, Proficient, Basic and Below Basic. Students must score in the Advanced or Proficient range to show mastery of the content.
What impact do the Keystone Exams have on Radnor High School?
Keystone Exams are used for three purposes: student, school, and teacher accountability. The results of these exams are gathered and published annually as part of the Future Ready PA Index. Additionally, Keystone Exams are used towards the School Performance Profile (SPP) score, the ESSA report card, are incorporated into the evaluation of each teacher and principal and are used for local and national ratings.
Act 158, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, shifts Pennsylvania’s reliance on these tests as the sole path for meeting state mandated graduation requirements, and now provides alternatives for high school students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success.
ACT 82 passed by the PA Legislature in 2012 ties student performance on the Keystone Exams directly to educator’s evaluations. Due to this law, 15% of a teacher’s yearly evaluation will be determined based on student performance on the Keystone exams. Results on state standardized tests are also used by various organizations (ex: U.S. News and World Report) when ranking schools and districts.
How many times can a student take a Keystone exam?
Students must take a Keystone exam at the end of each of the Keystone-assessed courses. (i.e.: At the end of the year, students in Biology will take the Biology Keystone Exam.)
If a student does not score Proficient after taking the Keystone exam in the spring, they can retest in December of the following school year. If they do not score Proficient after the December exam, they can meet the statewide graduation requirement by completing one of the PA Graduation Requirement Pathways.
Once a student scores Advanced or Proficient he/she has met the graduation requirement and is finished with that exam.
Do students have to take courses for remediation and retake the exam if they do not score proficient on a Keystone exam?
Keystone remediation is no longer required for students who do not achieve proficiency on the Keystone Exams. As a result, Radnor High School will not offer Keystone courses in the 2019-2020 school year.
Students still have the option to re-test on the Keystone Exams; however, they will not have the option to do the Project Based Assessment to achieve proficiency. If a student wishes to retest, they need to inform both their guidance counselor and Mrs. La Torre, our Assistant Principal of Student Services. Act 158 applies to the Class of 2022 and beyond.
If a student is in the class of 2020 and below, do they have to be remediated if they don't score proficient on the Keystone?
PDE requires that students in the classes of 2020 and below demonstrate proficiency on the Keystones as a graduation requirement. Any freshman who does not score proficient on the Biology or Algebra I Keystone exam, and any 8th grader who does not score proficient on the Algebra I Keystone exam will be scheduled for the corresponding Keystone remediation course, and will retake the Keystone exam in December.
If a student scores Proficient, can they retest to attempt to earn an Advanced score?
No, the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not allow for retests once a student has scored proficient.
My student scored Proficient or Advanced on the Algebra I Keystone Exam in middle school. Do they have to take it again in high school?
No, once a student scores Proficient or Advanced, they have satisfied the state requirements for that content area.
Will my child receive accommodations on the Keystone exams?
Students with special needs will receive accommodations as outlined in their IEP, subject to any limitations the state has placed on a particular test.
What are the PA Graduation Requirement Pathways?
Students can now meet the statewide graduation requirement by completing one of the following pathways:
Scoring proficient or advanced on each of the three Keystone Exams.
Earning a satisfactory combined score on the three Keystone exams. The passing composite score is 4,452. A proficient score on any Keystone exam is 1,500.
Earning a locally established minimum grade in the Radnor High School course associated with each Keystone Exam, and satisfactorily completing one of the following: a) a minimum cut score on an alternative assessment (PSAT, SAT, ACT), b) advanced coursework (AP level or dual enrollment courses),(c) pre-apprenticeship, or (d) acceptance in a four year nonprofit institution of higher education for college-level coursework.
Earning a locally established minimum grade on a Radnor High School course that is associated with each Keystone Exam and pass the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) or the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) assessment in an approved Career and Technical Education concentration.
Earning a locally established minimum grade on a Radnor High School course that is associated with each Keystone Exam and demonstrating readiness for postsecondary engagement through three pieces of evidence from the student’s career portfolio aligned to the student goals and career plan. Examples of evidence will include SAT subject tests, AP level dual enrollment coursework, higher education acceptance, a community service project, or completion of an internship, externship, co-op, or full-time employment.
Will my child be prepared to take the Keystone Exams?
Radnor High School prepares students to be critical thinkers. Our students continue to perform at an extremely high level on the Keystone Exams. Click here to compare RHS results to the rest of the state.
Courses with Keystone Exams are designed to address the requirements of these tests. RHS utilizes Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDTs) to identify student strengths and needs and provide students opportunities to practice the types of questions they will see. Test prep and review materials are also provided to students to assist in studying for the exams.
Can my child opt out of the Keystone Exams?
Yes, as with PSSA tests, parents may review Keystone Exams per state regulations and opt out for religious reasons. Students in the class of 2019 and below who opt out due to religious reasons are still required under state law to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone content in each of the assessed areas. Students in the classes of 2017 and 2018 who opt out will have their non-participation reflected on their transcript. PDE requires that schools list the highest level of proficiency level for each Keystone exam on a student’s transcript beginning with the class of 2017.
Is the school required to put the Keystone proficiency level on a student’s transcript?
Yes, per state law PDE requires schools to put the highest level of proficiency level for each Keystone exam on the student’s transcript. Successful completion of a Project Based Assessment (PBA) counts as “Proficient” for the module in question.
What happens if my child has a concussion or other significant medical issue and cannot take a Keystone Exam during the testing window?
Students experiencing a significant and sudden medical condition preventing them from taking a Keystone Exam during the testing window must have a note from their doctor stating the reason for the temporary exemption, and start and end dates for the condition. Any student who misses the testing period will make-up the missed Keystone Exams at the next available window. Students who are unable to take a Keystone Exam due to a significant and sudden medical condition will also be unable to participate in extra-curricular activities during the testing window.
How can I support my student?
Encourage your student to relax and do their best. While some may take issues with the system, we all need to do the best we possibly can.