Piloted in the Long Beach Unified School District, the Support Teacher Effectiveness Project (STEP) brings teachers together to tackle challenges through collaboration, sharing best practices, and discovering solutions together in a supportive environment.

STEP draws upon Jerry Sternin’s Positive Deviance philosophy that argues that difficult problems should be approached by identifying and amplifying what is going right in a community, as opposed to focusing on what is going wrong in a community and fixing it.

STEP Framework

STEP participants define a problem of practice the school community is facing and set a goal describing what success would look like if they solved that problem.

The STEP team gathers data related to their problem of practice in order to find possible solutions (instances of positive deviance). The team engages in cycles of inquiry to uncover specific positive deviant practices that can be replicated and tested by the group in order to solve their problem.

The STEP teachers try the identified practice in their own classrooms. They decide collectively how to gather data and measure the impact of the practice in real time. They monitor and assess whether what they are doing is leading to the desired results as benchmarked against their goals.

Once the STEP team members have tested the practice in their own classrooms and determined that it is highly effective, the team works together to design a process to spread the effective practice across their school or even their school district.

Operating separately from the evaluation process, STEP provides a supportive, comfortable, and collaborative environment amongst educators. STEP is a high-impact, teacher-driven, and sustainable method for promoting teacher professional development, with the goal of leading to measurable increases in student achievement.

For more information on STEP, visit