The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment

A standardized, strength-based measure of the social and emotional competencies of children in kindergarten through 8th grade.

What is the DESSA?

The Devereux Students Strengths Assessment (DESSA), originally developed by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, is the flagship assessment of Aperture Education’s DESSA System. It is a standardized, strength-based measure of the social and emotional competencies of children in kindergarten through 8th grade. Grounded in resilience theory, the DESSA provides user-friendly, practical tools that meet the highest professional standards. With the DESSA, parents, teachers, and out-of-school-time staff can assess a child’s social and emotional skills and promote healthy outcomes.

Tour the System


Why Should I Use the DESSA?

Research-Based: The DESSA is both nationally standardized and norm-referenced, with a standardization sample of n=2494. In addition, it exceeds the recommended standard for rater reliability and assessment validity. For more specific information, visit our DESSA 101 page.

Progress Monitoring: In addition to the full, 72-item DESSA and 43-item DESSA-HSE, the DESSA-mini (a shorter, 8-item assessment) can be used to monitor your students’ social and emotional development throughout the school year, providing actionable data to steer quality SEL intervention.

CASEL Aligned: Aperture Education’s 8 social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies are directly aligned to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning’s (CASEL) highly-regarded five SEL competency framework.

Multi-lingual: The DESSA and DESSA-mini are provided in both English and Spanish, serving all raters – including families – who may not speak English as a first language.

Personalized Use: Along with access to the DESSA, DESSA-HSE, and DESSA-mini, users also have access to the full suite of growth strategies and foundational practices, as well as 24/7 system support and a team of dedicated personnel. This ensures that each users experience is efficient, yet personalized.

Safe and Secure: See our Privacy Policy for a full statement on our commitment to safe and secure data collection, including adding our signature to the Student Data Privacy Pledge.

Identify Student Strengths Using Social and Emotional Competencies

The DESSA covers the following social and emotional competencies:

SEL Assessment — Self Awareness

Self Awareness

SEL Assessment — Self-Management


SEL Assessment — Social Awareness

Social Awareness

SEL Assessment — Relationship Skills

Relationship Skills

SEL Assessment — Goal Directed Behavior

Goal-Directed Behavior

SEL Assessment — Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility

SEL Assessment — Decision Making

Decision Making

SEL Assessment — Optimistic Thinking

Optimistic Thinking

The DESSA has been cited by a number of research and media organizations for its strong research-based foundation, emphasis on promoting the social and emotional strengths of children, and ability to be used in conjunction with many other effective SEL programs.

Navigating Social and Emotional Learning from the Inside Out
from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Wallace Foundation