Westmont Hilltop School District
Academics | Keystone Exam Information
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Keystone Exams

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in various subjects. These exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s proposed system of high school graduation requirements. Keystone Exams assist school districts guide all students toward meeting state standards.

Required Testing (available starting in grade 7 through the month of May in the grade 11 year)

Graduating Class

Keystone Exams Required Prior to Graduation
as per PDE Document, 2012

Class of 2015 3:  Algebra 1, English Literature, Biology
Class of 2016 3:  Algebra 1, English Literature, Biology
Class of 2017 3:  Algebra 1, English Literature, Biology
Class of 2018 3:  Algebra 1, English Literature, Biology
Class of 2019 4:  Algebra 1, English Literature, English Composition, Biology
Class of 2020 and after 5:  Algebra 1, English Literature, English Composition, Civics and Government, Biology

Student Preparation Resources

Biology Resources


Keystone Algebra 1-MODULE 1


Linear Equations and Systems

Linear Inequalities and Systems of Inequalities

Keystone Algebra 1-MODULE 2

Functions and Patterns

Coordinate Geometry

Probability and Data Analysis


English Literature Resources

compiled by William Aurandt and Ashley Washburn, WHHS

Keystone Exam Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
adapted from the PA Department of Education

Q: What are Keystone Exams?
Keystone Exams are state mandated end-of-course tests intended for students in the Class of 2017 and beyond to demonstrate proficiency in core subjects. The expectation is that all students will pass these tests in order to graduate. There is a secondary purpose of the Keystone Exams as well. The Keystone Exams in Algebra I and Literature will be used to determine the high school’s SPP status each year. The Keystones have replaced the PSSA for grade 11 students.
Q: What subjects have a related Keystone Exam?
English Literature, Algebra I, and Biology are the first three Keystone Exams to be implemented. The state will be developing other exams as part of the graduation requirement in future years which include but are not limited to English Composition (2019), and Civics and Government (2020). The state will also develop 5 Keystone Exams that will be available for voluntary use. These exams are Geometry, U.S. History, Algebra II, Chemistry, and World History.
Q: How are Keystone Exams related to high school graduation requirements?
Students graduating in 2017 and after must demonstrate proficiency in English Literature, Algebra I, and Biology. Students graduating before 2017 will be required to take the Keystone Exams for SPP purposes but their results will not be counted towards their graduation requirements.
Q: When do students take Keystone Exams?
Keystone Exams are attached to a particular course, not a student’s grade level. The exam is administered like a final exam when the course is completed and when the exams are made available by PDE. For example, Algebra I is taken by both middle school and high school students. The Keystone Exam will be administered at the end of the Algebra 1 course regardless of the grade level of the student. This will be applied to students in the graduating class of 2014 and after.
Q: When are the Keystone Exams administered?
High School: January, May, and July of each year; Middle School: May and July of each year
Q: My child took Algebra I last year. What happens if a student in the class of 2017 or beyond has completed a course before the test is offered?
The regulations state that students who complete a course before the Keystone is required for graduation will not need to demonstrate proficiency on the exams for graduation, however; students will be required to take the Keystone Exams while in high school to determine the school’s SPP status.
Q: Does this mean that the state will be applying test results from middle school students to high school graduation requirements?
Yes. If a student completes a course aligned to a Keystone Exam during the middle school years, the proficiency outcome is used to determine eligibility for a high school diploma.
Q: Can an individual student opt out of a Keystone Exam?
No. The regulations do not permit this.
Q: Can a student earn credit for a course by passing a Keystone Exam without taking the course?
The District has no plans to enable students to earn credit for a course by examination.
Q: What happens if a student is not proficient?
Students who do not pass the Keystone Exam score must receive remedial instruction and must retake the Keystone Exam until a passing final course grade is achieved. After two unsuccessful attempts, students will be eligible to demonstrate proficiency through the completion of a project-based assessment that will be scored by a team of regional teachers.
Q: I have heard these tests are voluntary for Districts. Can a School District choose not to administer these exams?
The regulations permit school districts to use local assessments instead of Keystone Exams. The assessments must be deemed by an independent validation to address all required content, to be of comparable rigor, and to have comparable proficiency cut scores. The state is currently developing guidelines for local assessments. The Westmont Hilltop School District does not have plans to administer or create local assessments to replace the Keystones.
Q: Will there be testing accommodations for students with special needs?
As with the PSSA tests, students with special needs may take Keystone Exams with accommodations listed in a student Individualized Education Plan, subject to any limitations the state applies to a particular test.
Q: Will the scores be on the high school transcript?
Keystone Exam scores shall be listed by proficiency level on student transcripts.
Q: Will colleges and universities view success on Keystone Exams as an advantage during the college admissions process?
Current information counselors have shared about college acceptance patterns indicates that state test results are not important factors in acceptance decisions.
Q: Will my child be prepared for Keystone Exams?
District courses aligned with Keystone Exams are designed to address the requirements of these tests.

Westmont Hilltop School District 112 Lindberg Avenue Johnstown, Pennsylvania 15905 Phone 814.255.6751

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