Steppingstone seeks Scholars who show academic promise, are determined to work hard, and have support at home. Potential Scholars and their families must also demonstrate a need for the services Steppingstone provides, academic and otherwise. Scholars who are likely to gain admission to an independent or public exam school on their own are not accepted.

     Steppingstone Scholars come from low- to moderate-income Boston neighborhoods, including Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury, Hyde Park, Charlestown, South Boston, Jamaica Plain, and Allston-Brighton. Admission is not determined by factors such as race, ethnicity, and religion; however, the racial and cultural backgrounds of the Scholars do reflect Steppingstone’s belief that children of every race and culture deserve the opportunity education affords. Generally, the demographic make-up of the children we serve is most influenced by the make-up of the neighborhoods and schools from which we recruit. On average, Steppingstone Scholars identify themselves as African-American (45%), Hispanic (24%), Asian-American (18%), multiracial (8%), and white (5%).

     While demonstrated academic achievement is sought in potential Scholars, it is not the sole determining factor. Steppingstone seeks students with the dedication required to succeed at independent and public exam schools. Along with achievement, responsibility and motivation are highly valued. The Steppingstone Academy has a three-stage admissions process that consists of nomination and application, the Steppingstone exam, and an interview.

     Current fourth- and fifth-grade students can be nominated by administrators, teachers, or counselors at their schools; by community service organizations; by parents of current Steppingstone Scholars; or by their own parents. As soon as Steppingstone receives a nomination, an application, brochure, and explanatory letter are sent to the nominated student. The application consists of parent and student questionnaires, a teacher recommendation (including grade reports), and an essay.

     In February, all nominated students take the Comprehensive Testing Program 4 (CTP4) exam, which is produced by the same organization that administers the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE), the test used in both independent and public exam school admissions. The CTP4 is recognized by the majority of Steppingstone placement schools and not only provides a means of comparison among candidates but yields useful and accurate data that helps to shape the preparation component of the Academy. On the basis of the application and exam results, Steppingstone invites a portion of the nominated students and their families to interview.

     The interview process allows Steppingstone to discern those qualities that demonstrate a child’s ability to take advantage of the opportunities The Steppingstone Academy offers. The interview also provides insight into a child’s maturity, leadership potential, character, and interest in and commitment to Steppingstone’s rigorous academic program. During interviews, Steppingstone staff members describe the magnitude of the commitment Steppingstone makes to each child and the commitment each family is expected to make, and give students and their families the opportunity to ask questions.

     The admissions staff makes final decisions in mid-April, and by early June families must inform Steppingstone whether or not their child will participate in The Steppingstone Academy.