• Graduation Requirements and the Pennsylvania Keystone Exams


    PA Act 158 of 2018 requires students graduating from any Pennsylvania High School in 2023 and beyond to be able to to meet the PA statewide high school graduation requirements through one of five pathways.  These pathways are designed to ensure students are prepared for success in college, career, and the community. The Statewide requirements for high school graduation require students to demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra I, Biology, and Literature Keystone Exams. The Keystone Exams designed to measure end-of-course achievement in Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology.  These three exams have been developed to provide information about student achievement and also meet federal requirements. Students who do not demonstrate proficiency on all three exams (known as the Keystone Proficiency Pathway) must demonstrate their college, career, and community readiness by meeting the requirements within one of the other four pathways; the Keystone Composite Pathway, the Career and Technical Education Pathway, The Alternative Assessment Pathway, or the Evidence-Based Pathway.  More information on each of the pathways can be found at the following link CLICK HERE. Passing all three Keystone Exams (Literature, Algebra 1, and Biology) is the first pathway and the pathway all students should be focused on achieving.  Passing the Keystone Exam for each of these courses demonstrates a student has met the expected understanding of the course content taught during each of these core academic classes.  If a student is unable to pass one or more Keystone Exam or does not take a Keystone Exam for any reason, they must graduate by an alternative pathway.   

    Because the Keystone Exams are designed to be end-of-course assessments, they are administered during the semester in which students complete each of the three courses. For students in Central Bucks this means that testing is completed as follows:

    • Keystone Literature Exam—during the semester in which a 10th grade student is taking an English 10 course.
    • Keystone Biology Exam—during the semester in which a 10th grade student is taking a Biology course.
    • Keystone Algebra 1 Exam—during the semester in which a student in middle or high school completes an Algebra 1 course.   Note on Algebra 1 Keystone: Depending on an individual student’s math sequence, this Exam is commonly administered in one of the middle level grades.  Middle school students enrolled in an Algebra 1 course will take the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam in May. 

    In addition, students who take a Keystone Exams but do not score at the proficient level are asked to retake a Keystone Exam. These retakes are typically scheduled during the semester in which the student has a course in the same content area at the high school and will occur during the spring Keystone Exam Window at the middle school.  


    Find further information about Keystone Testing and Graduation Requirements from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.


    The following visual illustrates the 5 pathways to graduation for your reference.  If a student is not meeting any of the graduation requirements you will be contacted by your school no later than the end of the 1st semester of their senior year.  If you have questions, please contact your child's school counselor for more information.

    In addition to the 5 Pathways to Graduation, there are opportunities for students with an IEP who have attempted to meet the other Graduation Pathways and were not able to satisfy the pathway requirements to graduate from high school.  If your child has an IEP and they will not graduate by one of the other Graduation Requirements you will be contacted by your child's Case Manager or Special Education Supervisor to discuss their options for meeting graduation requirements.