Keystone Exams and Act 158
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in specific subject areas, as determined by the state. These exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s new system of high school graduation requirements. In order to graduate, students in the class of 2023 & those following are required to participate in three Keystone Exams (Algebra I, Biology, & Literature) & meet the district’s required graduation credits. Students who do not score Proficient or Advanced on the Keystone tested subjects may participate in a Proficiency Development Course prior to retesting. These courses are Pass/Fail and do not factor into a student’s GPA, they are worth .5 credit for each subject, Algebra and Biology only as Literature Proficiency is integrated into the 11th grade English curriculum.
Act 158 of 2018 provides alternatives to Pennsylvania’s statewide requirement of attaining proficiency on the three end-of-course Keystone Exams (Algebra I, Literature, and Biology) in order for a student to achieve statewide graduation requirements. Effective with the graduating class of 2023, students have the option to demonstrate postsecondary preparedness through one of four additional pathways that more fully illustrate college, career, and community readiness. Keystone Exams will continue as the statewide assessment Pennsylvania uses to comply with accountability requirements set forth in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Although students will no longer be required to achieve proficiency on the Keystone Exams in order to meet statewide graduation requirements, students must take the Keystone Exams for purposes of federal accountability. Failure to do so will affect a Local Education Agency (LEA) and school’s participation rate.
Pennsylvania Graduation Requirements-Act 158
Students graduating in 2023 and beyond, the following five options exist to meet the statewide graduation requirement:
In accordance with Pennsylvania’s Act 136 of 2020, beginning with the graduating class of 2023, students must meet statewide graduation requirements in one of five ways.
Options 1 and 2 - Keystone Pathways:
Successful completion of the three Pennsylvania Keystone Exams are an acceptable pathway for graduation:
- Option 1 - Keystone Proficiency Pathway: Scoring proficient or advanced on each Keystone Exam - Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.
- Option 2 - Keystone Composite Pathway: Earning a composite score of 4452 on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams (while achieving at least a proficient score on at least one of the three exams and no less than a basic score on the remaining two).
Option 3 - Alternate Assessment Pathway:
Successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and one of the following:
Algebra EquivalentLiterature Equivalent Biology Equivalent AP Calculus AB AP English Language and Composition AP Biology AP Calculus BC AP Literature and Composition AP Environmental Science AP Computer Science A AP Chemistry AP Computer Science Principles AP Physics 1: Algebra Based AP Statistics AP Physics 2: Algebra Based AP Physics 1: Algebra Based AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnesium AP Physics 2: Algebra Based AP Physics C: Mechanics AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism AP Physics C: Mechanics AP Chemistry
- Attainment of an established score on an approved alternate assessment (SAT, PSAT, ACT, ASVAB);
- Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT): score 1010
- PSAT: score of 970
- ACT: score of 21
- Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam: the minimum score to gain admittance to a branch of the armed services in the year the student graduates
- Attainment of an established score on an Advanced Placement Program in an academic content area associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve at least a proficient score;
- Successful completion of a college-in-high school (CHS) course in an academic content area associated with each Keystone Exam in which the student did not achieve at least a proficient score;
- Successful completion of a pre-apprenticeship program (ex. German American Chamber of Commerce); or
- Acceptance in an accredited 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education and evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level coursework.
Advanced Placement (AP) exam: score of 3 on an AP exam related to one of the following courses
Option 4 - Evidence Based Pathway: Successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and demonstration of three pieces of evidence consistent with the student's goals and career plans, including one of the following:
- Attainment of an established score on a SAT subject test, an Advanced Placement Program Exam:
- SAT Subject Test: score of 630
- AP program exam: score of 3
- Acceptance to an accredited nonprofit institution of higher education other than a 4-year institution and evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level coursework
- Attainment of an industry-recognized credential; or
- Successful completion of a concurrent enrollment or postsecondary course; and
- Two additional pieces of evidence, including one or more of the options listed above, or: satisfactory completion of a service learning project; attainment of a score of proficient or advanced on a Keystone Exam; a letter guaranteeing full-time employment; a certificate of successful completion of an internship or cooperative education program; or satisfactory compliance with the NCAA's core courses for college-bound student athletes with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.
Option 5 - CTE Pathway: For Career and Technical Education (CTE) Concentrators, successful completion of locally established grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam on which the student did not achieve proficiency and attainment of an industry-based competency certification related to the CTE Concentrator's program of study or demonstration of a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment or readiness for continued meaningful engagement in the CTE Concentrator's program of study. For further explanation of the CTE Pathway, please see PDE's Act 6 guidance.More information can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website.