The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment

A standardized, strength-based measure of the social and emotional competencies of children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

FREE Webinar

Watch this free, on-demand webinar from co-author of the DESSA, Paul LeBuffe. In this session, Paul walks us through the appropriate uses of the DESSA, including how best to use it in support of students’ social and emotional development.

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What is the DESSA?

The Devereux Students Strengths Assessment (DESSA), originally developed by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, is the assessment portion of Aperture Education’s DESSA System. It is a standardized, strength-based measure of the social and emotional competencies of children in kindergarten through 12th 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.

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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 implementation 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:

Self Awareness


Social Awareness

Relationship Skills

Goal-Directed Behavior

Personal Responsibility

Decision Making

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

Learn More with the DESSA 101

For more detailed information on the DESSA – including awards, research studies, and success stories – visit our DESSA 101 page.