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Steppingstone’s gateway academic component spans 14-months that includes a weekend academic program during their 5th grade school year bookended with two six-week summer sessions. 


During summer sessions, Scholars attend classes five days a week for a full eight hour school day, studying math, Prima Lingua, lab science, social studies, test-prep, and study and life skills. Career Day, identity development, and cultural awareness underpin socio emotional growth for scholars to combat the study skills course that incorporates ISEE test prep with a particular emphasis on test taking and vocabulary improvement. Literacy is emphasized in all courses, including math and science where writing and discussion are stressed. They also receive extensive counseling to find high performing schools for placement. At the end of the summer, students retake the initial diagnostic. The emphasis on reading proved promising as every scholar improved in reading comprehension and there was a 30.9% increase overall! Further, this emphasis on literacy proved beneficial in Mathematics Achievement, as students excelled on word problems and critical thinking components, as nearly every scholar improved and there was 14% growth across the cohort overall.


After the summer session, scholars attend classes every Saturday for four hours beginning in late September. During that time, they take math, reading, and writing courses scaffolded by the learning objectives determined from the analysis of the second diagnostic ISEE exam administered at the end of the summer session. Students continue to work in small groups, and writing is a central cog to all of the classes. Exposure to new material continues as scholars move towards mastery of new standards. Scholars are assigned homework to supplement their schoolwork and maintain their gains. Prior to sitting for the official ISEE exam in November, students take a final diagnostic ISEE exam. After the exam, Scholars continue to study advanced math skills, writing skills, and critical reading of literature and will have the opportunity to experience an elective course such as science, journalism or art history.


Steppingstone staff also help Scholars and their families with the placement process, including choosing and applying to different independent schools, and navigating the financial aid process for those families applying to independent schools. Staff will not only provide advice, but also will assist families with the necessary paperwork, visits, and applications.


Steppingstone staff is a great resource for families and Scholars. They are often the first to praise a Scholar for an achievement, and also the first to step in if a Scholar is not living up to the Code of Conduct or is experiencing difficulty with the Steppingstone commitment. The relationship between Steppingstone staff, Scholars, and families is very important.

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