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Explanation of "Keystone Tests"

Updated on July 3, 2017

The Keystone Exams are regular assessments which high school students are subjected to at end-of –course (Department of Education). It is a novel system which replaces the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) standardized tests which is a requirement for graduation in all public schools within the county. This new system was crafted for the purpose of directing school districts in guiding students towards meeting the specific state standards of education. These tests are designed to measure proficiency in various subject areas which include, English language, Algebra, Literature, Chemistry, History, Government and Civics, Biology, Geometry, and United States History (PA.Government, 2016).

In Keystone Exam, a student’s final points are computed by quantifying the total points achieved by the student per a given subject. The student’s final score in the Keystone Exam is then employed in placing such a student in an appropriate level of performance. The performance levels are categorized into four, Below Basic, Basic, Proficiency and Advanced whereby, Below Basic and Basic levels are regarded as non-acceptable under the Pennsylvanian curriculum. A student whose score happens to fall below proficiency level is required to repeat the course and redo the exam. The results are an integral component of the performance profile of Pennsylvania’s school system. However, the results from Key Stone tests do not necessarily determine a student’s acceptance in college. If a student is required to redo the tests, the schools are required to provide supplementary instructions to the particular student or students. A student can redo a Key Stone exam as many times as possible (The Pennsylavania Association of State Association, 2016).

Similar to the PSSA tests, the Keystone Exams program provides accommodations for students with ESL, IEPs and 504. These accommodations are aligned in accordance to each student’s needs, which are subsequently tailored to be in alignment with the assessment and instruction (Accommodations Guidelines, 2016). These are normally grouped according to setting, response, and presentation and scheduling/timing. A good example is students with IEPs who may require that words or phrases be read aloud for them to hear and understand. However, the accommodation does not necessarily reduce learning expectations (Services for Students with Disabilities, 2014).


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