PSSA and Keystone Exams

PSSA Exams

The Pennsylvania Department of Education continues to develop a series of assessments call the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA.  These tests are aligned to the corresponding Standards and provide a measure of how well our students are accomplishing those benchmarks.

While Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science are currently the focus of PSSA testing, other state standards will ultimately be measured through the PSSA system as well.  All students are required to participate in this state testing program, including those students receiving special education services with Individualized Education Plans.  A very few students with severe cognitive disabilities are excluded from the PSSA and provided an alternative state-level test called the Pennsylvania Alternate State Assessment (PASA).  Certain PSSA testing accommodations are allowed and provided to students as determined by the child's teacher or outlined in the student's IEP.  These accommodations may include extra testing time or having the test read aloud.

A student's PSSA score is categorized into one of four possible performance levels:

1. Advanced - The Advanced Level reflects superior academic performance.  Advanced work indicates an in-depth understanding and exemplary display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.

2. Proficient - The Proficient Level reflects satisfactory academic performance.  Proficient work indicates a solid understanding and adequate display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.

3. Basic - The Basic Level reflects marginal academic performance.  Basic work indicates a partial understanding and limited display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.

4. Below Basic - The Below Basic Level reflects inadequate academic performance.  Below Basic work indicates little understanding and minimal display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.

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Keystone Exams

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content. Beginning with the class of 2017, students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams to graduate. Students will be offered multiple opportunities to take the Keystones throughout their high school careers.

Beginning in 2012-2013 the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams has           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. Therefore, all students in grade 11 must participate in the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams. Additionally, students in any grade who are enrolled in a Keystone related course should participate.

The Keystone Exams will be administered three times each year—winter, spring, and summer.