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About DESSA

Description of the DESSA

The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) is a 72-item, standardized, norm-referenced behavior rating scale that assesses the social-emotional competencies that serve as protective factors for children in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

The DESSA can be completed by parents/guardians, teachers, or staff at schools and child-serving agencies, including after-school, social service, and mental health programs.

The assessment is entirely strength-based; meaning that the items query positive behaviors (e.g., get along with others) rather than maladaptive ones (e.g., annoy others).

The DESSA is organized into conceptually derived scales that provide information about eight key social-emotional competencies. Standard scores can be used to calibrate each child’s competence in each of the eight dimensions and guide school/program-wide, classwide, and individual strategies to promote those competencies.

For each of the 72 DESSA items, the rater is asked to indicate on a five-point scale how often the student engaged in each behavior over the past four weeks. The same form is used for all ages and both parent and teacher raters.

DESSA Scales

The eight scale names, scale definitions, and sample scale items are as follows: (Click on the scale name to view descriptors and sample items.)

Self-Awareness (7 items): Social-Awareness (9 items): Self-Management (11 items): Goal-Directed Behavior (10 items): Relationship Skills (10 items): Personal Responsibility (10 items): Decision Making (8 items): Optimistic Thinking (7 items):


Who Can Use the DESSA?

DESSA Raters:
People who fill out the DESSA form

Raters can be:
  • Teachers, After School Staff, Parents, Guardians, or Adult Caregivers who Live with the Child.
Raters must:
  • Read English at about the 6th grade level
  • Have had sufficient opportunity to observe the child (know the child for 4 weeks)
The form can be read aloud to raters with literacy issues or raters who are English Language Learners.

DESSA Users:
Score and interpret the ratings and use the results to improve outcomes for the child.

Users can be:
  • Administrators, Counselors, Educators, Mental Health Consultants, Nurses, Program Directors and Evaluators, Pediatricians, Psychologists, Researchers, School Psychologists or Social workers.
Users must:
  • Have training in proper administration, interpretation and utilization of the DESSA.
  • Have knowledge of T-Scores and percentiles
  • Have knowledge of the DESSA scale content and profiles
  • Know how to communicate results to parents, family caregivers and professionals.

About DESSA-Mini

Description of the DESSA-mini

The DESSA-mini is comprised of four 8-item parallel forms which are designed to be used on a universal (i.e. school- or program-wide) basis to determine the need for social-emotional interventions. The four 8-item forms are standardized norm-referenced behavior rating scales that screen for social-emotional competencies which serve as protective factors for children in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

The DESSA-mini can be completed by teachers or staff at schools and child-serving agencies, including after-school, social service, and mental health programs.

The DESSA-mini is entirely strength-based; meaning that the items query positive behaviors (e.g., get along with others) rather than maladaptive ones (e.g., annoy others).

For each question, the rater is asked to indicate on a five-point scale how often the student engaged in each behavior over the past four weeks. Each of the four 8-item DESSA-mini scales is comprised of a sampling of the various scales found in the DESSA.

The DESSA-mini yields a single score, the Social-Emotional Total (SET) score, which provides an indication of the strength of the child’s social-emotional competence based on a comparison to national norms, and can be used to compare ratings between teachers or staff across time to monitor progress toward improving social-emotional competence.

Who Can Use the DESSA-Mini?

DESSA-Mini Raters:

People who fill out the DESSA-mini form

Raters can be: 

  • Teachers, After School Staff, or other professionals who interact directly with the child on a regular basis.

Raters Must:

  • Read English at about the 6th grade level
  • Have had sufficient opportunity to observe the child (have contact with the child for two or more hours for at least three days per week for a four-week period.)

The form can be read aloud to raters with literacy issues or are ELLs. 

DESSA-Mini Users:

Score and interpret the ratings and use the results to improve outcomes for the child.

Users Can Be:

Administrators, Counselors, Educators, Mental Health Consultants, Nurses, Program Directors and Evaluators, Prevention Specialists, Pediatricians, Psychologists, Researchers, School Psychologists or Social workers.

Users Must:

  • Have training in proper administration, interpretation and utilization of the DESSA-mini.
  • Have knowledge of T-Scores and percentiles.
  • Know how to monitor progress over time.
  • Know how to communicate results to parents, family caregivers and professionals.


Want to know more about the DESSA and DESSA-Mini?

Click the links below:

 

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