Sneak Peak: 3 Ways Schools are Using Aperture Education’s New SEL Student Portal

In the “real world,” initiative, self-efficacy, and creative problem-solving are encouraged (and often required) for success. We can begin cultivating these skills in the classroom. Student voice and choice can engage students in their learning and give students the agency to develop self-regulation and become self-directed learners. Student voice and choice also help students feel valued and encourage them to realize their interests and potential.

Our new Student Portal helps high school students build these important social and emotional learning (SEL) skills. It also helps educators quickly understand students’ social and emotional competence by capturing student voice with education’s most researched strengths-based and nationally normed assessment: the DESSA.

Below are three examples of how schools are using our new Student Portal to:

  • capture student voice
  • support student choice, and
  • engage students with immediate feedback and strategies.

Urban Assembly School for Collaborative Healthcare in Brooklyn, New York: The Urban Assembly is a non-profit organization that serves 23 New York City public secondary schools, working to improve the social-economic mobility of students by improving public education. The Urban Assembly partners with Aperture Education to support SEL and develop an SEL framework called the “Resilient Scholars Program,” which is built upon four tenets:

  1. Direct instruction
  2. Integration
  3. Assessment
  4. Supports for implementation and sustainability

The school’s SEL program is taught within an advisory class that meets twice per week. One day is dedicated to SEL; the other focusses on academic support or college and career readiness.

Over the past three years, the school’s graduation rate has steadily increased 10 percentage points, from 81% to 91%. The Urban Assembly has a higher graduation rate than the average citywide rate, and more students enroll in college within six months of graduating. Additionally, higher percentages of Urban Assembly students achieve proficiency/college readiness in English and math. 

Principal of the Urban Assembly School for Collaborative Healthcare, Candace Hugee, attributes part of these gains to the Resilient Scholars Program, especially during remote learning. “We have created an effective SEL program that is helping our new 9th grade students who never really interacted with our staff in-person. The SEL skills and advisory has really made an impact.”


Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District, Oak Creek, WI: With a mission to engage, challenge, and inspire every student every day, educators in Wisconsin are working toward a goal of successful futures for all students.

To establish more SEL at the high school level and to get a baseline understanding of the social and emotional competency of high school students, school psychologist Emilie Tregellas and her team partnered with Aperture Education. “For teachers, we wanted them to have a deeper understanding of social and emotional competencies and what it means to be proficient for themselves and for students.” EdSERT, Aperture’s SEL system for teachers and school staff, empowers teachers to learn about SEL at their own pace.

For the high school students, the team felt it would be best if they could just get data straight from the kids. After students completed the DESSA Student Self-Report, educators realized that a majority of Oak Creek-Franklin students were struggling with Self-Awareness and Optimistic Thinking. In response to these findings, a small team came together to create advisory lessons based on these SEL competencies. “For next year, we’ll use the DESSA Student Self-Report for screening. Students who fall into the Needs category after screening will have a report filled out by a teacher so we can compare the results and create an action plan.”

Read their full story.


Grundy Center Community Schools, Grundy Center, IA: Grundy Center Student Achievement Coordinator Cara Doak’s days are spent preparing students for their futures, which includes teaching a popular Life Skills class for high school students. Her Life Skills classroom centers around leadership, flexibility, productivity, and social skills. But Doak lacked a way to engage students in the measurement of their own social and emotional competencies and growth.

Intrigued by how a student social and emotional self-report could fit into her classroom and curriculum, Doak elected to participate in Aperture Education’s Student Portal Early Adopter Program. Doak was able to use the results to connect with students in the days and weeks that followed. “As we reviewed their results, I was able to express to my students that these skills are at the heart of what we do in this class. And I was able to sharpen my focus to certain skills as we wrapped up that unit because I was able to identify trends in areas of struggle across all of my students.” The students also used their results to better understand their established short-term and long-term high school goals.

Read their full story.

Take a look at Aperture Education’s new high school Student Portal and how it can prepare your students for their future. Fill out the form to chat with our SEL experts talk through the portal and the many ways you can use the data to support positive outcomes for students.


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