PSSA and Keystone Exams

  • The PA Standards are much more meaningful if a system is in place to determine if our students are achieving these standards.  The Pennsylvania Department of Education continues to develop a series of assessments call the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA.  These tests are aligned to the corresponding Standards and provide a measure of how well our students are accomplishing those benchmarks.

    While Reading, Writing, Mathematics and Science are currently the focus of PSSA testing, other state standards will ultimately be measured through the PSSA system as well.  All students are required to participate in this state testing program, including those students receiving special education services with Individualized Education Plans.  A very few students with severe cognitive disabilities are excluded from the PSSA and provided an alternative state-level test called the Pennsylvania Alternate State Assessment (PASA).  Certain PSSA testing accommodations are allowed and provided to students as determined by the child's teacher or outlined in the student's IEP.  These accommodations may include extra testing time or having the test read aloud.

    A student's PSSA score is categorized into one of four possible performance levels:

    1. Advanced - The Advanced Level reflects superior academic performance.  Advanced work indicates an in-depth understanding and exemplary display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.
    2. Proficient - The Proficient Level reflects satisfactory academic performance.  Proficient work indicates a solid understanding and adequate display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.
    3. Basic - The Basic Level reflects marginal academic performance.  Basic work indicates a partial understanding and limited display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.
    4. Below Basic - The Below Basic Level reflects inadequate academic performance.  Below Basic work indicates little understanding and minimal display of the skills included in the PA Academic Content Standards.


    The Keystone Exams are state-developed exams in 3 core subjects:  Algebra I, Biology, & English Literature. 



    • Encourage your child to do his or her best on every assessment.
    • Check homework every night.  Homework provides a way to identify and work on weak skill areas.
    • Discuss your child's academic performance with them.  When parents and children talk regularly about school, children perform better academically.
    • Provide a quiet and comfortable study place for your child.
    • Communicate with your child's teacher.


    • Eat well- Studies show that you need good nutrition to concentrate and perform your best.
    • Bring the right supplies - Bring your pencils, erasers, rulers, compasses, calculators and whatever else you will need for the day.
    • Review the whole test before you start - See how many sections and what types of questions are on the test.  Consider how much time to allow for each section.