2021 Keystone Exam Information for Students in Grades 8-12

March 26, 2021
 
Good afternoon West Shore families,
 
Several years ago, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) introduced the Keystone Exams to replace the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) for high school students. The Keystone Exams are end-of-the-course assessments designed to measure mastery of the standards in the following subjects - Algebra I, Biology, and Literature.  Once a student has taken a course that contains the Keystone eligible content, they are assessed via the corresponding Keystone Exam regardless of their grade level in high school.  
 
2021 Keystone Exam Testing Overview
  • All students currently enrolled in a Keystone course will be scheduled to take the corresponding Keystone exam in late May.
  • Freshmen and sophomore students who were enrolled in and failed a Keystone course during the 2019-2020 school year will be scheduled to take the corresponding Keystone exam in May 2021.  
  • Freshmen and sophomore students who were enrolled in and passed a Keystone course during the 2019-2020 school year are encouraged to take the corresponding Keystone exam in May 2021.  Students should refer to Pathway 2 – Keystone Composite Score Pathway located under graduation requirements in the information below.  To opt-in for a Keystone Exam, freshman and sophomore students must complete the Keystone Exam Opt-In form no later than May 1, 2021.
  • Juniors and seniors may choose to take a Keystone Exam since testing was not administered in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To opt-in for a Keystone Exam, junior and senior students must complete the Keystone Exam Opt-In form no later than May 1, 2021. 
 
Background Information on Keystone Exam Implementation
PDE initially required all students, beginning with the Class of 2017, pass the Keystone Exams or complete a state-developed graduation project in order to graduate.  After a series of implementation and policy challenges, the legislature enacted a series of moratoriums on the use of Keystone Exams as a statewide graduation requirement.  During the process of delays in mandating student proficiency on the exams, Senate Bill 1095 was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf shifting Pennsylvania’s reliance on high stakes testing as the only means to meet the graduation requirement to provide alternatives for high school students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success.  The options permitted under Act 158 expand the possibilities for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness using pathways that more fully illustrate college, career, and community readiness.   The alternative pathways take into account individual student’s strengths, interests and career goals while requiring the student to meet or exceed locally-established requirements and to demonstrate competency through other valid and accountable measures. 
 
Graduation Requirements
The statewide graduation requirement is effective beginning with the Class of 2023 (current sophomore class).  The pathway options are outlined below and additional information can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website. The West Shore School District is here to assist you and your child in determining a pathway option that best meets his/her skills, interests, and abilities.

Pathway 1 – Keystone Proficiency Pathway
Scoring proficient or advanced on each Keystone Exam - Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.
 
Pathway 2 – Keystone Composite Score Pathway
Earning a satisfactory composite score of 4452 on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams.  The student will earn proficient or advanced on at least one Keystone Exam and score at least basic on the other two Keystone Exams.  No exam score can be below basic.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keystones were not administered in May 2020. As such, per PDE, all students who were enrolled in a Keystone course during the 2019-2020 school year are deemed “proficient” on the corresponding Keystone exam pending the student passed the high school course associated with the exam.  For West Shore School District, these students must have achieved a 70% or higher to be considered proficient on the Keystone Exam.  It is important to note, students deemed proficient under this special allowance will not receive a numeric score to be associated with the specific Keystone Exam for which they are deemed proficient. Therefore, if a student wants to attain the statewide graduation requirement by using the composite score pathway, the student would need to take the corresponding Keystone exam. Students deemed proficient by passing the Keystone course cannot be negatively impacted by opting in to take the Keystone Exam should they not score proficient on the corresponding exam.   
 
Pathway 3 – Alternate Assessment Pathway
Earning a passing grade on the courses associated with each Keystone Exam, and satisfactorily complete one of the following: an alternative assessment (SAT, PSAT, ACT, ASVAB, Gold Level ACT WorkKeys), advanced coursework (Advanced Placement Exams or concurrent enrollment courses), pre-apprenticeship, or acceptance in a 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education for college-level coursework.
 
Pathway 4 –Career & Technical Education Pathway
Earning a passing grade on the courses 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.
 
Pathway 5 – Evidence-Based Pathway
Earning a passing grade on the courses associated with each Keystone Exam and demonstrate readiness for postsecondary engagement through three pieces of evidence from the student’s career portfolio aligned to student goals and career plan. Examples of evidence will include ACT WorkKeys, SAT, Advanced Placement Exams and concurrent coursework, higher education acceptance, community learning project, completion of an internship, externship or co-op or full-time employment.
 
We recognize the magnitude of the information provided in this letter. Should you have questions regarding the Keystone Exams or graduation requirements in general, please call your child’s school and ask to speak with the department chair for the select Keystone Exam, your child’s school counselor, or building administration.
 
Sincerely,
 
Tammi Jones, Ed.D.
Director of Secondary Education 

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