What is STEP™?

STEP™, or Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress, is an acclaimed system designed to help students from PreK to third grade learn to read.  The system provides tools to help teachers assess students' literacy levels, onsite training to support educators as they move children through the 13-level STEP process, data showing growth and performance at the student, classroom, school, district and network levels, and a host of additional resources aimed at helping all children reach literacy proficiency by 3rd grade. STEP provides literacy growth for students and professional growth for teachers and parents.

Learn more about STEP from educators who use it.


Who uses STEP?

STEP users quickly become STEP believers. Between 2011 and 2014, STEP retained 99 percent of its clients, and added many more. In the last decade, STEP has reached 130,000 students over time and currently serves students in 203 schools in 54 cities and 24 states. Schools using STEP include some of the highest performing urban school networks in the country, including KIPP, Achievement First Schools, Uncommon Schools, and in large urban districts such as Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Camden, NJ. See the full list of Current STEP Clients.

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Each STEP tool aligns with scientifically established milestones in reading development. Each level within STEP is organized into a developmentally sequenced set of tasks that help teachers understand the developmental status of each student, or each class, at any point during the school year. STEP’s data management tool allows teachers to analyze their progress over time. STEP assessments are woven into classroom practice as part of regular literacy instruction, rather than stand as a separate activity external to teaching.

Real Results

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 1.07.21 PM.pngStudents using STEP consistently outperform peers in 3rd grade state standards in literacy. In Chicago, schools using STEP had twice as many third graders meeting or exceeding grade level literacy standards relative to district peers. Similarly, schools using STEP outperformed peers by 11 percentage points in New York City, 22 percentage points in New Haven, 44 percentage points in New Orleans and 33 percentage points in Newark.


How STEP Works

Districts and networks around the country recognize the benefits of using STEP as a powerful assessment tool and performance management strategy. STEP offers:

  • Accessible formative assessment data on all PreK-3 students, allowing teachers to provide targeted instruction to accelerate students' reading
  • Early identification of students who need extra supports in reading
  • Clear intervention strategies attached to each "STEP" on the assessment so that teachers and principals know how to improve student progress
  • Training and supports for teachers in literacy instruction
  • Data management that informs teachers and school leaders about the strengths and weakness of students in literacy: at the district, school, grade, classroom, and individual student levels.


The STEP Process

The STEP Process includes four stages to ensure STEP is employed successfully in your school:

STEP Adapts to Your Needs

Our team will work with you to ensure STEP makes sense for your budget, strategy, timing, capacity and overall readiness. Pre-implementation, we will carefully plan logistics and thoroughly train instructors on the approach. Then we’ll work intensively with you throughout the year to ensure implementation is successful—customizing training, reviewing data, assessing needs, and developing interventions accordingly.

Following the initial year of implementation, the STEP Team continues to work with the district, network, and/or school for the next two years, providing tools and support as needed. Our next steps aren’t predetermined; they’re based on your progress, data, and particular needs. This nimbleness and commitment is what makes STEP successful. 


STEP Stories

Read brief vignettes about how STEP improved students’ literacy at three different schools.


STEP Staff

Learn more about our excellent STEP staff and trainers.



Learn more about what you get with STEP.

Fill out the STEP Interest Form to speak with an expert about whether STEP is right for your school. If you have any other questions, call 773.702.5389 or email