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  • Carl E. Clark II

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Devereux Student Strengths Assessment: Strengthening our youth’s social and emotional skills 

With nearly 1 million assessments completed since January 2018, the Devereux Students Strengths Assessment (DESSA) is taking its place as the gold standard when it comes to screening, assessing and strengthening social-emotional competence for youth, grades K-12. 

The DESSA – originally developed by the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (DCRC) – is the flagship product of Aperture Education’s suite of social and emotional tools for students and educators.  

“The DESSA assessments are standardized, strength-based behavior rating scales for children and youth in grades K-12. Our assessments are used by educators, parents and guardians, and out-of-school-time staff, to measure the social-emotional competence of youth – and can be completed in just five to eight minutes,” said Aperture Education Vice President of Research and Development, and DESSA author, Paul LeBuffe. “Among other things, the DESSA assessments can be used to provide actionable, sound data which can help support school climate and equitable practices, combat chronic absenteeism and predict certain behavioral infractions. The goal is to strengthen the social and emotional skills of our youth so that they may lead happy, successful and productive lives.” Aperture’s DESSA Comprehensive SEL System includes tools that can be used with children, grades K-12. Learn more about the complete DESSA product line

Helping educators tailor instruction; promoting self-awareness in youth 

After the assessments are completed, the tool enables educators to tailor instruction so youth receive the individualized support they need to succeed.  

“Data can be shared with the individual student, parents, and organizational leaders, when appropriate,” LeBuffe explained. “Students who receive the results are often very interested to learn where their strengths and areas of need exist. The DESSA gives students a better understanding of themselves and promotes self-awareness – a key social and emotional skill.” 

Today, the DESSA is used by:

  • 30,000 Educators
  • 2,300 Schools and sites  

The Aperture / Devereux connection

In 2017, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health helped launch Aperture Education to provide strength-based assessments – including the DESSA – and resilience-building resources to assist schools and out-of-school-time organizations in addressing the whole child. Since its launch, Aperture has expanded its resources to include professional development to focus on staff wellness and social and emotional competence.  

“Aperture’s primary goal is to ensure all members of school and out-of-school time community programs, including both students and adults, have the social and emotional skills needed to thrive. They place a clear focus on non-academic factors – including skills such as self-awareness, self-management, personal responsibility and optimistic thinking – that are essential to a student’s success,” said DCRC Director Susan Damico. “Devereux and Aperture have a shared vision that includes ensuring that all children, from birth through high school, have adults in their lives who understand the importance of social and emotional development, and are provided with the resources and skills to strengthen and support children’s social and emotional skills.” 

Get started with the DESSA today!

LeBuffe noted that the DESSA suite of assessments have long been considered one of the best, most highly regarded evidence-based social and emotional learning assessments available.  

“School staff want to know that the time they are spending on the DESSA will produce accurate and meaningful results – and it will,” he said. “The DESSA suite of assessments produce reliable, valid data that schools and community programs can count on to inform their instruction and interventions – to help our youth be successful.” 

Learn more about the complete DESSA product line or the newest educator SEL tool, EdSERT, and Aperture Education. Learn more about the Devereux Center for Resilient Children.

 

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