What Is STEP?

The Short-Term Educational Placement Program (STEP) helps students in crisis get back on track.

The Dearborn Academy STEP Program in Newton, Mass., is a designed to meet the needs of students who have been excluded from their schools for health, behavioral and other reasons.  STEP is also a place for students who have stopped attending school or for those transitioning from a more restrictive program back to public school. We serve up to 16 students at a time in Grades 5 through 12. 

STEP gives students a chance to move back from an emotional crisis or conflict. We start by evaluating and assessing the student’s particular challenges. Sometimes we uncover psychological stresses or learning disabilities. We solve the problems we can and help families and schools find the right services when we can't. We also provide counseling, learning supports and therapy.

Every student receives intensive care designed to put them back on track. The STEP staff works also closely with each student's home school to make sure their academic work at STEP connects with their school's curriculum and goals.

At the end of the assessment period, students leave with an extensive educational assessment and diagnostic evaluation that gives families and the school district and important tools for meeting future needs and making a successful transition from STEP back to their original school or to a more appropriate placement. 


STEP primarily serves public school students, but private and independent school families may also find that a time out to assess and get back on track can be extremely valuable to a student who is struggling.

Serving Students From All Over Eastern Massachusetts

STEP students have come from more than 30 cities and town in recent years. After many years in Arlington, Mass., we moved in 2019 to Newton and are housed in the same building as Dearborn Academy. Despite the close proximity to our sister school, both are programs of Schools for children, STEP remains independent. The two programs have their own leadership teams and dedicated program staff, are on separate floors and have separate entrances.  

View STEP Map in a larger map

Email us to learn how STEP can meet your short-term needs: step@dearbornstep.org 

Read more about STEP's history.