The Pennsylvania state assessment system is comprised of assessments and the reporting associated with the results of those assessments. The assessments include:
- The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)
- The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA)
- The Keystone Exams (end-of-course).
Assessment dates will be posted on the District's calendar.
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) includes assessments in English, Language Arts and Mathematics, which are taken by students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Students in grades 4 and 8 are administered the Science PSSA.
English/Language Arts PSSA Grades 3-8
The English/Language PSSA is aligned to PA Core Standards. Students are assessed on their ability to comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of fiction and non-fiction selections. Likewise, they are asked to produce writing to address tasks, audience, purpose, and perspective. Additional skills assessed include those related to the craft and structure of language and vocabulary acquisition and usage.
Math PSSA Grades 3-8
The Math PSSA is aligned to the PA Core Standards in Math K-12. The Math PSSA assesses the ability of students to understand and solve complex and novel mathematical problems. Students are asked to apply mathematical knowledge to analyze model situations and relationships using appropriate tools to make decisions, solve problems, and draw conclusions. PSSA Math assessment categories include Numbers/Operations, Algebraic Concepts, Geometry, and Data Analysis/Probability
Science PSSA Grades 4 & 8
The Science PSSA include items that are aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science, Technology, Environment and Ecology. Science assessment categories encompass: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Earth and Space Sciences
The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is the statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), even with accommodations.
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content. Beginning with the class of 2022-2023, students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams to graduate or fulfill one of the other pathways provided 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. All students who take a Keystone Exam may re-take the exam.
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 measure?
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. Other groups of Pennsylvania educators also reviewed, edited, and approved exam questions.
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 Keystone 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 two to three hours to complete. There are two modules on each test, and each module (or Test Session) of the Keystone Exam should take one 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 and pencil formats. Districts will determine if online, paper and pencil, or both formats will be used locally. Makeup exams will also be administered in either online or paper and 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 typic 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.
Religious Opt Out
Should a parent/guardian decide to opt their child out of a Keystone exam due to religious objections, they would first need to submit a written request to the superintendent to review the exams in writing. A time for the parent to review the Keystone exam in question will be scheduled with the building level administration. Following review of the exam(s), the parent/guardian would then submit a formal written request to the superintendent for their child to be opted out of the specific Keystone exam due to religious objections.
Cell Phone Policy for PSSA & Keystone Exams
In an era of cell phones, smartphones and other electronic devices which can easily photograph and instantly share photographs, confidential and secure test materials can easily be compromised. Not only is it expensive to replace a compromised test item, the material contained int he PSSA and Keystone Exams is copyrighted property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Copying or duplicating the material from the assessment, including the taking of a photograph of secure assessment material, is a violation of the federal Copyright Act. Penalties for violations of the Copyright Act may include the cost of replacing the compromised test item(s) or fines of no less than $750 up to $30,000 for a single violation.
In order to ensure reliable test results and to avoid the cost of replacing test items, the Department of Education requires schools to set rules and take certain steps to protect test materials. Electronic devices such as but not limited to cell phones, smartphones, smartwatches, E-readers, Nooks, Kindles, iPods, tablets, camera-ready devices, and any other electronic device which can be sued to photograph or duplicate test materials, access the internet and/or communicate with others during the administration of the PSSA or Keystone Exams are not permitted in any testing site. Please speak with your child and let your child know that the possession and/or use of a call phone or other electronic device during the administration of the PSSA or Keystone Exams will result in consequences.
You will be contacted by the school if your child is discovered using and/or having a cell phone or other unapproved electronic device during the administration of the PSSA or Keystone Exams. Students who ignore this directive will be subject to the school's discipline policy and the Department of Education's requirement that the student's test will not be scored and the student will be required to retake the entire exam. The electronic device will be held by school staff, and the device's stored photographs and other functions will be examined with your permission. You may request to be present when the electronic device is examined. If a photograph of the PSSA or Keystone Exam is discovered or if permission to search other functions of the electronic device is refused, the device will be held by the school staff. The Pennsylvania Department of Education holds the copyright to all material contained within the PSSA and Keystone Exams. The Pennsylvania Department of Education will be contact and further action may be taken.
If, after testing is complete and test materials have been returned, it is discovered that a student used and/or had a cell phone or other unapproved electronic device during the administration of the test, the school's discipline policy will be followed and the student's test will not be scored.