Keystone Exams - Background and Information
Background Information & Context
In 2010, Pennsylvania passed a law that supported the creation of end-of-course assessments, known as “Keystone Exams.” These exams would serve two purposes: (1) establishing high school graduation requirements for students throughout the state; and (2) providing a way for the state and the federal government to hold high schools accountable for educating students.
Students began taking the tests in 2012, with a plan to have Keystones become a graduation requirement in 2017. In February 2016, Pennsylvania delayed the requirement of passing Keystone exams in order for a student to be eligible to graduate. Students were still required to take the exams, with limited exceptions, but they did not have to pass them.
In 2018 Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 1095 into law that shifted away from the state's reliance on standardized testing as a graduation requirement. Senate Bill 1095 extended the options for students to demonstrate graduation readiness by providing alternate pathways. These requirements were set to take effect beginning with the graduating class of 2022.
In November 2020. Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 1216 Act 136 into law which once again pushed back the graduation requirement. The graduation requirements are set to take effect for the class of 2023.
The Keystone exams are an end-of-course assessment in Biology, Algebra I, and English 10. Each exam is aligned to the PA Common Core Eligible Content and is designed to evaluate student success in learning the skills and knowledge associated with the study of each of those subject areas. The intention of the Keystone Exam is to serve as a graduation requirement and method of feedback for students, parents, and schools. The Keystone Assessments also serve as a very valuable resource to provide one snapshot of a student’s mastery of specific course material
Recent Legislation Regarding Keystones and Graduation Requirements
In November 2020, as a result of the pandemic, the Pennsylvania legislature voted to delay the implementation of the Keystone Exam as a requirement for graduation. The class of 2023 will be required to meet the aforementioned requirements. See below for specific details and Keystone graduation requirements for current High School students.
*We will continue to monitor and update the information below dependent upon modifications from the state during the COVID pandemic*
The Class of 2021 & Class of 2022 (Current 11th and 12th Graders)
- No Keystone Exam Graduation Requirements
The Class of 2023 (Current 10th graders)
- Biology Keystone Exam: Most students were enrolled in Biology as 9th graders during the 19-20 school year. PDE has waived the Keystone Exam requirement for the year 19-20 for students who earned a passing score in their Biology course.
If a student did not pass the course or did not take the course during 9th grade, they will still be required to take and pass the Keystone exam.
- Literature Keystone Exam: As of now, 10th graders will be taking the Literature Keystone this spring 2021.
- Algebra Keystone Exam: If students were enrolled in an Algebra I course during the 19-20 school year and passed the course, the Algebra I Keystone Exam requirement is waived and they are considered proficient. If students did not pass the course, they will still be required to take the Algebra I Keystone Exam. *If students took the Algebra Keystone exam in 8th grade and passed, it will be used as a graduation requirement.
The Class of 2024 (Current 9th graders)
- Biology Keystone Exam: 9th graders will be taking the Bio Keystone Exam in spring 2021. A proficient score is required for graduation.
- Literature Keystone Exam: Students will be required to take the Literature Keystone Exam in spring 2022. A proficient score is required for graduation.
- Algebra I Keystone Exam: If students were enrolled in the Algebra I course during the 19-20 school year and passed the course, the Algebra I Keystone Exam requirement is waived and they are considered proficient. If students are currently enrolled in Algebra I, they will be taking the Keystone Exam this spring 2021.
The Class of 2025 (Current 8th graders)
- Algebra I Keystone Exam: If students are currently enrolled in Algebra I, they will be taking the Keystone Exam this spring 2021.
RESOURCES: BASD Website, BASH Website, BCIU Graphic of Pathways, New Law