You are currently viewing SEL Series: SEL Assessment Tools – The DESSA

SEL Series: SEL Assessment Tools – The DESSA

When finding the right assessment tool to measure students’ social and emotional learning skills after school, professionals will run into a few challenges.  Adhering to SEL standards will ensure accountability and assist with helping educators plan, assess and support student learning. However, with so many assessment tools to pick from educators are left scratching our heads wondering “which tool best fits our program.”

Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Center began using the Devereux Students Strengths Assessment (DESSA) as our SEL assessment tool because of user friendly features. The DESSA is also a standardized, strength-based measure tool for SEL core competencies of children in kindergarten through 12th grade.  The DESSA has been an excellent help supporting our SEL initiative.

What is the DESSA?

The Devereux Students Strengths Assessment (DESSA), initially developed by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children, is the evaluation part of Aperture Education’s DESSA System. The DESSA is a standardized, strength-based measuring tool for social and emotional competencies of children in kindergarten through 12th grade.  The DESSA universal screener, the DESSA-mini, evaluates children and helps identify students who are at risk for social-emotional challenges. The DESSA also provides tools to chart and report results, monitor progress, and assess outcomes.

The DESSA Features

● Four different 8-item assessment forms
● The DESSA-mini allows educators and staff to screen each child’s social-emotional competence in about one minute,
● Children who receive low scores on the DESSA-mini are full 72-item DESSA, provides information on eight critical social-emotional competencies related to resilience.

Why it works after- school?

The DESSA has been simple and easy to use for staff. Our staff completes the assessments online, and it takes about a minute. The scoring and reporting are available online as well as a wide range of SEL skills building activities that are critical for supporting social-emotional development. The DESSA has been helpful with providing specific techniques and strategies for our staff to help our students development.

If you are interested in learning more about the DESSA, visit their website


Tiana Brown is the Assistant Director of the Norwalk Housing Authority Learning Centers



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.