Gaining reading proficiency by 3rd grade is a key milestone for all children. And yet, more then 80% of low-income children miss that critical marker. STEP helps change those odds.

How STEP Works

STEP™ is a research-based formative assessment, data management, and professional development system that has been proven to significantly improve student achievement in literacy. STEP assesses children’s literacy skills, provides key data to educators, and trains teachers how to interpret that data in a way that moves children reliably through a 13-level system toward reading proficiency.

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.


  • The STEP Assessment Kit, which provides teachers with the materials necessary to administer the STEP assessment.
  • The Online Assessment System, provides access to the assessment through our online data collection site, which streamlines the assessment process and collection of student responses.
  • The STEP Data Management System, a powerful online platform that visualizes school, student, and teacher performance.
  • On-site STEP Training, available in multiple models to meet the needs of networks and districts.


Students 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.

What's New

Due to a need and requests for continued support in the intermediate grades, Step has been developing an assessment system that will be a continuation of the current Purple/ Yellow Series.

Coming soon are the Grey and Burgundy Nonfiction Series, which will support the intermediate grades of 3 through 6. Our new assessment series will diagnose intermediate readers’ nonfiction skill-set and provide teachers with pertinent data to drive targeted instruction for informational text. Students will be assessed on their Understanding of Key Concepts, Author’s Craft, and Vocabulary through a combination of teacher/ student interactions and individual student response using an online assessment system.

Teachers and school leaders will have access to the data management system, which will provide a suite of reports and data views in order to conduct a thorough analysis with ease, from high level trends to identifying specific students’ needs.