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What are the Keystone Exams?

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

1) The Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams replaced the 11th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in Mathematics, Reading, and Science for purposes of satisfying No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. 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 2017, 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, a Project Based Assessment would need to be completed in order to meet state graduation requirements.

PDE requires all non-proficient students to receive remediation in the corresponding Keystone content area, and all non-proficient students will retake the exam during the following Keystone administration after completing the remediation class or program. 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.

When will the Keystone Exams be administered during the 2015-2016 school year?

Blackhawk High School will administer Keystone Exams during the following windows:
  • Winter Wave 1 & 2: December 2-16, 2015 & January 6–20, 2016
  • Spring Wave: May 16 – 27, 2016
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 testing window?

Winter Wave: Any students who scored below the proficient level on a previous Keystone administration will re-take that Keystone exam during the Winter administration (after having completed remediation work). Also, any student who has previously completed a Keystone related course but has not taken the corresponding Keystone Exam.

Spring Wave: Students enrolled in Algebra 1, Biology, and any 10th grade English course will take the Keystone exam for those courses in May. Along with any students who scored below the proficient level on a previous Keystone administration (after having completed remediation work). 

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.

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.



KEYSTONE EXAMS RESOURCE LINKS

Please click here for a Guide to Student Reports that provides information on how to read and interpret the student reports.

Click here for a Parent Information Sheet published by PDE.

Keystone Exam Algebra 1 Item and Scoring Sampler
Keystone Exam Biology Item and Scoring Sampler
Keystone Exam Literature Item and Scoring Sampler

Please visit the PDE SAS website for additional information.
Blackhawk School District: 500 Blackhawk Road, Beaver Falls, PA 15010 Phone: (724) 846-6600 Fax: (724) 846-2021
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Blackhawk School District:
500 Blackhawk Road, Beaver Falls, PA 15010

Phone: (724) 846-6600
Fax: (724) 846-2021
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