STEP (School Transitional Environmental Program)

An Evidence-Based Practice

This practice has been Archived and is no longer maintained.


STEP (School Transitional Environmental Program) is a school organizational change initiative that seeks to decrease student anonymity, increase student accountability, and enhance students' abilities to learn school rules and exceptions. The program targets students in transition from elementary and middle schools who are in large urban junior high and high schools with multiple feeders serving predominantly nonwhite lower income youths. Students remain in intact small groups for their homeroom period and their academic subjects (these classrooms are physically close together). Homeroom teachers act as administrators and guidance counselors, providing class schedule assistance, academic counseling in school, and counseling in school for personal problems. Teachers also explain the project to parents and notify them of student absences. Project students are assigned to homerooms in which all classmates are STEP participants, and they are enrolled in the same core classes to help develop stable peer groups and enhance participants' familiarity with the school.

Goal / Mission

The goals of this program are to decrease student anonymity, to increase student accountability, and to enhance students' abilities to learn school rules and exceptions.

Results / Accomplishments

Several studies have examined the STEP program. Evaluations performed at the end of ninth grade demonstrate that STEP students, compared with control students, display decreases in absenteeism and increases in grade point average; stability of self-concept (compared with decreases for control students); and more positive feelings of the school environment, perceiving the school as more stable, understandable, well-organized, involving, and supportive. Long-term follow-up indicated that STEP students, compared with controls, had lower dropout rates (21 percent versus 43 percent), and higher grades and fewer absences in 9th and 10th grades.

The evaluation of the STEP program with lower risk students in junior high demonstrated that STEP students, compared with control students, showed significantly lower levels of school transition stress and better adjustment on measures of school, family, general self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and delinquent behavior, and higher levels of academic expectations. Teachers in the STEP schools reported that their students had better classroom adjustment behavior and fewer problem behaviors. Academic records show that STEP students had significantly better grades and attendance patterns.

About this Promising Practice

Education / School Environment
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
Education / Student Performance K-12
University of Rhode Island
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
Rhode Island
For more details
Target Audience

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