Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Keystone remediation is no longer required for students who do not achieve proficiency on the Keystone Exams.
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 Dr. MacNamara, our Assistant Principal of Student Services. Act 158 applies to the Class of 2022 and beyond.
PDE requires that students in the classes of 2023 and below demonstrate proficiency on the Keystones as a graduation requirement. Any RHS student who does not score proficient on the Biology, Literature, or Algebra I Keystone exam, and any 8th grader who does not score proficient on the Algebra I Keystone exam, may retake the Keystone exam in December or choose to pursue an alternative pathway.
No, the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not allow for retests once a student has scored proficient.
No, once a student scores Proficient or Advanced, they have satisfied the state requirements for that content area.
Students with special needs will receive accommodations as outlined in their IEP, subject to any limitations the state has placed on a particular test.
Students can now meet the statewide graduation requirement by completing one of the following pathways:
• Keystone Proficiency Pathway: Scoring proficient or advanced on each Keystone Exam - Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.
• Keystone Composite Pathway: Earning a composite score of 4452 on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams (while achieving at least a proficient score on at least one of the three exams and no less than a basic score on the remaining two).
• Alternate Assessment Pathway: Successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and one of the following:
• Attainment of an established score on an approved alternate assessment (SAT, PSAT, ACT, ASVAB);
• Gold Level on the ACT WorkKeys Assessment;
• Attainment of an established score on an Advanced Placement Program or an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program exam in an academic content area associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve at least a proficient score;
• Successful completion of a concurrent enrollment course in an academic content area associated with each Keystone Exam in which the student did not achieve at least a proficient score;
• Successful completion of a pre-apprenticeship program; or
• Acceptance in an accredited 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education and evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level coursework.
• Evidence Based Pathway: Successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and demonstration of three pieces of evidence consistent with the student's goals and career plans, including
• One of the following:
• Attainment of an established score on the ACT WorkKeys assessment, a SAT subject test, an Advanced Placement Program Exam, or an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program Exam;
• Acceptance to an accredited nonprofit institution of higher education other than a 4-year institution and evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level coursework;
• Attainment of an industry-recognized credential; or
• Successful completion of a concurrent enrollment or postsecondary course; and
• Two additional pieces of evidence, including one or more of the options listed above, or: satisfactory completion of a service learning project; attainment of a score of proficient or advanced on a Keystone Exam; a letter guaranteeing full-time employment; a certificate of successful completion of an internship or cooperative education program; or satisfactory compliance with the NCAA's core courses for college-bound student athletes with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.
• CTE Pathway: For Career and Technical Education (CTE) Concentrators, successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and attainment of an industry-based competency certification related to the CTE Concentrator's program of study or demonstration of a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment or readiness for continued meaningful engagement in the CTE Concentrator's program of study.
The above informatation was taken directly from the PDE website on graduation requirements on January 6, 2021.
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.
Yes, as with PSSA tests, parents may review Keystone Exams per state regulations and opt out for religious reasons. Students in the class of 2023 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 using an alternative pathway in place of the exam. 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.
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 an alternative pathway counts as “Proficient” for the module in question.
What happens if my child has a medical issue and cannot take a Keystone Exam during the test 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.