Disney II magnet school in Chicago built its instructional program and practices in literacy around the STEP™ assessment, and the benefits quickly became apparent to educators there – and even more important, to students. STEP created a common language among teachers, parents, and students to talk about teaching and learning in literacy. The assessment and teacher training program helped set clear expectations for what all students should be able to know and do at each grade level.
Today, teachers say they couldn’t imagine teaching without STEP, according to Disney II Principal Bogdana Chkombova. “The use of STEP data guides our instruction and revolutionized the way our teachers think about teaching.”
Determining each student’s specific reading level is an important but tricky endeavor, particularly because it can easily vary throughout the school year. The STEP assessment provides teachers with the specific information they need to help each child progress.
STEP divides literacy achievement into 12 steps, beginning with concepts about print and letter identification. As children progress, they begin answering comprehension questions and retell stories. Within each “step,” are smaller step levels, A, B, and C.
Unlike other reading assessment tools, STEP gives teachers fine-grained information so they can tailor reading instruction to each student. STEP also looks at a broader range of reading skills than most diagnostic tools. Beyond simply measuring word recognition, reading speed, and accuracy, STEP also evaluates comprehension and critical thinking.