The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to determine proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Hanover High School will administer these assessments on the following dates:
Algebra: 5⁄15 and 5⁄16
Literature: 5⁄17 and 5⁄18
Biology: 5⁄22 and 5⁄23
Hanover Middle School will administer on the following dates:
Algebra: 5⁄16 and 5⁄17
Information for Parents or Guardians
Pennsylvania Keystone Exams
What are the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments
designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content.
Beginning with the class of 2019, students must
demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Literature,
and Biology Keystone Exams to graduate. Students
will be offered multiple opportunities to take the
Keystones throughout their high school career.
Who will participate in the Keystone Exams?
In 2012–13, the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology
Keystone Exams replaced the 11th-grade
Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) in
math, reading, and science for purposes of student,
educator, and school accountability. Students
should take the Keystone Exams at or near the end
of a Keystone-related course. The students’ results
are banked until their junior year for accountability
purposes and until their senior year for graduation
purposes. Some students who previously completed
a Keystone-related course but did not take the
Keystone Exam will also participate for accountability
purposes. Additionally, students who take a Keystone
Exam and do not score Proficient may re-take the
When will the exams be offered?
The Keystone Exams will be administered three times
each year—winter, spring, and summer. Specific
administration dates will be published by the
Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Who decided what Keystone Exams should
Groups of educators from across Pennsylvania chose
the areas of knowledge on which the Keystone Exams
are based. The groups included teachers, supervisors,
curriculum directors, and college specialists. These
groups also reviewed, edited, and approved exam
What is assessed on the Keystone Exams?
Pennsylvania adopted the Pennsylvania Core
Standards, standards aligned with expectations for
success in college and the workplace. The Keystones
are designed to measure these standards.
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
the typical student 2 to 3 hours to complete. There
are two modules on each test, and each module (or
Test Session) of the Keystone Exam should take 1 to
1.5 hours to complete. Districts can administer the
Keystone Exam modules across two days or divided
across the morning and the afternoon of the same day.
What are the available formats for
administering the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams are available in both online
and paper/pencil formats. Districts will determine
if online, paper/pencil, or both formats will be used
locally. Makeup exams will also be administered in
either online or paper/pencil format.
Will students have an opportunity to
experience online testing before taking a
Keystone Exam online?
Tutorials and online training programs have been
developed for the Keystone Exams. The PA Online
Assessment Student Tutorial uses pictures, motion,
and sound to present visual and verbal descriptions
of the properties and features of the PA Online
Assessment system. Students are allowed to repeat the
Student Tutorial as often as desired and needed. The
Online Tools Training (OTT) provides an introductory
experience using the PA online assessment software
allowing students to observe and try out features
of the PA online assessment software prior to the
actual assessment. Within the OTT, students also
have the opportunity to practice typing responses in
a narrative format, graphing functions, and entering
equations using an equation builder tool. The online
exam also has a “Help” feature that is available to the
student during the exam.
What types of questions are on the Keystone
The Keystone Exams will include multiple-choice
questions and constructed-response, or open-ended,
questions. For each Keystone Exam, approximately
60 percent to 75 percent of the total score will
be from multiple-choice questions and 25 percent
to 40 percent of the total score will be from
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. 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.
How are the results reported?
Keystone Exam scores will be processed as quickly as
possible and provided to the districts.
Two copies of the individual student report for all
Keystone Exams will be sent to the school districts
and charter schools. One copy should be sent home
to parents/guardians; the other is kept by the school/
School-level reports will be used for curricular and
planning purposes. School districts and charter
schools may publish the results of Keystone
Exams for each school. The state will also release
school-by-school exam data.
May parents see the Keystone Exams?
Parents and guardians may review the Keystone
Exams if they believe they may be in conflict with
their religious beliefs by making arrangements with
the School Test Coordinator once the exams arrive
at the school. Confidentiality agreements mu
signed, and no copies of the Keystone Exams or notes
about exam questions will be permitted to leave the
If, after reviewing the Keystone Exams, parents or
guardians do not want their child to participate in
one or all of the exams due to a conflict with their
religious beliefs, they may write a letter specifying
their objection to the school district superintendent
or charter school CAO prior to the beginning of the
exam(s) to request their child be excused from the
For additional information about
the Keystone Exams, visit the PDE
website at www.education.pa.gov.