State Assessments

Pennsylvania State Assessments

The Pennsylvania state assessment system is comprised of the following assessments:

  • The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)

  • The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA)

  • The Keystone Exams (end-of-course)


The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) includes assessments in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science.  A summary of the content assessed in each subject area follows.

English Language Arts PSSA (Grades 3-8)

The English Language Arts assessment addresses content in both literature and informational text, as well as language and text-dependent analysis. Students respond to standalone multiple-choice items assessing language. Additionally, students read a number of passages from literature and informational genres and respond to questions about these passages that indicate both comprehension and reading skills and the students’ analysis and interpretation of different types of texts. 

Mathematics PSSA (Grades 3-8)

The mathematics assessment addresses content in Numbers & Operations, Algebraic Thinking, Geometry, and Measurement & Data in grades 3-5.  In grades 6-8, the Number System, Ratios & Proportional Relationships, Expressions & Equations, Functions, Geometry, and Statistics & Probability are assessed. Both multiple choice and constructed-response items are included on the exams.  Constructed-response items may require the students to show all of their work (e.g., calculations, graphs, drawings) and/or to explain in writing how they solved the problems. 

Science PSSA (Grades 4 & 8)

The science assessment addresses the four major reporting categories: The Nature of Science, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Earth and Space Sciences. The types of items included on the exams are multiple choice, constructed-response, and in 8th grade, scenarios.  A science scenario contains text, graphics, charts, and/ or tables and uses these elements to describe the results of a class project, an experiment, or other similar research. Students use the information found in a science scenario to answer multiple-choice questions.


The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is the statewide alternate assessment designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), even with accommodations. 

The PASA is aligned with Pennsylvania's academic content standards with a reduction in depth and breadth evidenced by the Alternate Eligible Content, and measures the attainment of knowledge and skills of children with significant cognitive disabilities through performance tasks.

Keystone Exams

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Literature and Biology. The Keystone Exams are untimed assessments, taking most students a total of two to three hours to complete. Each Keystone Exam is comprised of two modules containing multiple choice and constructed response items. 

Schedule for State Assessment Administration

The Mount Pleasant Area School District will administer Pennsylvania standardized assessments according to the following schedule:

Winter Keystone Exams

  • Algebra I Keystone Exam—December 5, 2023

  • Biology Keystone Exam—December 6, 2023

  • Literature Keystone Exam—December 7, 2023

PSSA Exams 

  • English Language Arts PSSA Exam—April 22-25, 2024

  • Mathematics PSSA Exam—April 29- May 1, 2024

  • Science PSSA Exam—May 1-2, 2024

PASA Exams 

The PASA test administration window runs from March 11, 2024 until May 3, 2024.

Spring Keystone Exams 

Senior High

  • Algebra I Keystone Exam—May 14, 2024

  • Biology Keystone Exam— May 15, 2024

  • Literature Keystone Exam— May 16, 2024

Junior High

  • Algebra I Keystone Exam—May 15, 2024

Information for Parents

Please ensure that your child is well rested and that absences from school are kept to a minimum on these dates.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.

*Mount Pleasant Area School District students who are enrolled in the Virtual Online Learning Academy (VOLA) will take state assessments onsite.

Important Documents for Parents

The links below contain informational documents relative to the administration of PSSA and Keystone Exams.  If you are the parent or guardian of a child who is eligible to take the PSSA or Keystone Exams, these documents will also be sent home:

Frequently Asked Questions - Information for Parents or Guardians

This letter describes the Pennsylvania Department of Education policy on and consequences for using cell phones and other electronic devices during testing. 

Policy on Electronic Devices

As explained in the Electronic Devices Parent Letter, cell phones and other communication devices are strictly prohibited during the test administration.  The following actions will be taken if a student is found in possession of a cell phone during testing:

  • Any student who violates the ban on cell phones and other electronic devices will face a 3-day suspension at minimum.

  • A "Do Not Score" label will be applied to the student’s answer booklet and the student will have to retake the test from the beginning.

  • The phone or communication device will be confiscated until such time that the child's parent or guardian comes to the school.  In the presence of the parent or guardian, the cell phone or other device will be viewed to ensure that it contains no information or material about the assessment.

  • If items on an assessment are compromised, the items will have to be replaced. Parents/guardians and students may be held responsible for the cost of replacing the items.