Keystone Exams » PBA FAQs


What are Project Based Assessment (PBAs)?

PBAs are an alternate route to fulfilling State graduation requirements for students who were either unable to demonstrate Proficiency on the exam or religiously opt out of the exam. If a student has not demonstrated Proficiency after two valid attempts on the Keystone Exam, they may begin a PBA.

Is there a direct path for special needs students to go directly to the project?

A student's IEP is the guide for student participation in the Keystone Exams and Project Based Assessments. Students may move to the project after one attempt of the Keystone Exam if the IEP so states. (See Pennsylvania Code reference below.) As written in the IEP, all test accommodations apply.

22 Pa Code 4.24(g) Special education students. Children with disabilities who satisfactorily complete a special education program developed by an Individualized Education Program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part shall be granted and issued a regular high school diploma by the school district of residence, a charter school (including cyber charter school) and AVTS, if applicable. This subsection applies if the special education program of a child with a disability does not otherwise meet the requirements of this chapter.

If a student moves to a Project Based Assessment how many projects will the student be required to complete?

Each Keystone Exam consists of two modules. One PBA will be required for each module on which the student did not score Proficient.

When will students complete the project?

Schools must provide a supervised environment in which students work independently. The project portal is password protected, and the student must be logged on by an assigned Test Administrator who must be continually present when students are working on their projects.

Who scores the Project Based Assessments?

Once submitted electronically, the PBAs will be scored by statewide review panels composed of teachers, principals and curriculum specialists. Projects will be submitted and scored according to scoring protocols and a rubric developed by PDE.

How are the Project Based Assessments evaluated?

Evaluators are not provided any information identifying the student or school from which the project originated, nor are the evaluators identified to each other. Each evaluator assesses a project using a predefined set of evaluative criteria that is aligned to the Eligible Content. In order for a project to be considered satisfactory, all evaluative criteria must be marked as satisfactory by at least two evaluators. If and only if all evaluative criteria are marked as satisfactory by at least two evaluators, then the project will be considered to be satisfactory.

Any project for which one or more evaluative criteria have not been marked as satisfactory by two evaluators will be returned to the Tutor and the student with appropriate feedback from the evaluators. Once project remediation has been completed by the student, the project can be resubmitted for evaluation by the same three evaluators. The evaluators will determine if each evaluative criterion is now satisfactory.

Are there timelines for submission of PBA’s?

While projects may be submitted at any time, there are four defined submission dates: November 15, January 15, March 15 and May 15. Estimated turnaround time is 8-10 weeks for scoring.

When must seniors submit PBA’s in order to meet State graduation requirements?

For seniors projects must be submitted no later than January 15 of the senior year. (Reminder: The state graduation requirement is effective with the graduating class of 2017)

Is there a religious opt out for the Project Based Assessment?

A student or his/her parent(s) cannot opt out of the PBAs for religious reasons as allowable for Keystone Exams as per the Chapter 4 Regulations.

What must the student transcript display as related to the PBA?

Based upon Chapter 4 regulations, the information presented on a transcript shall include the highest performance level demonstrated by a student on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment at the time the transcript is produced.