April 16, 2013
For several years, Pennsylvania has required that all schools administer the PSSA test to students in grades 3-8 and 11. Two years ago, Pennsylvania introduced a new set of assessments called the Keystone Exams in the areas of Biology, Algebra I, and Literature.
These end-of-course exams are designed to assess proficiency in those specific subject areas. Beginning this school year, these exams will replace the 11th grade PSSA tests. Students in grades 3-8 will still be required to take the PSSA tests. Additionally, beginning with this year’s 8th grade students (Class of 2017), all students in PA will be required to show proficiency on these exams, or on state developed projects, as a graduation requirement.
For Students in Grade 11:
Any student who took the assessment in the winter and scored Basic or Below Basic in Literature or Algebra will be scheduled to re-take the respective exam in May.
For Students in Grades 9-10:
Any student enrolled in Biology, Biology I, Advanced Biology I, Algebra I, or any 11th grade English course will be required to take the Keystone Exams for those courses. The exams will be given at the end of the courses in May 2013. If a student is in grades 9 or 10 and has taken any of these courses in a previous school year, they should have taken the respective Keystone Exam in December 2012 or January 2013.
For Students in Grades 7-8:
All seventh and eighth grade students will be taking the PSSA as required by the state. In addition to those assessments, any student enrolled in an Advanced Algebra or Biology I this year will also be required to take the Keystone exam in May 2013 for that course.
This is a significant change in state mandated testing and graduation requirements. Please talk with your child about the importance of these exams and encourage them to put forth their best effort. I am including an informational page from the PA Department of Education which may provide answers to commonly asked questions.
If you should have any additional questions or concerns, please contact your building administrator or the Secondary Curriculum Office at 814-231-1082.
Jacquelyn M. Martin
Director of Curriculum 7-12
State College Area School District