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Assessing SEL Competencies

As part of our commitment to social and emotional learning, Stamford is participating in a State-wide Social Emotional Learning Assessment initiative in partnership with Aperture Education.  As part of this initiative, teachers use a social-emotional screening and assessment tool called the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA-mini). For students in grades K-8, the DESSA-mini asks teachers to rate how often a student has demonstrated specific SEL skills in the past month. Students in grades 9-12 will take the DESSA Student Self Report to be able to assess their own skills.  These assessments are completed three times a year, similar to what we do in reading and math, during the months of October, January, and May.  Information from the assessment is used to support school and classroom SEL programming.  


  • How often did the child keep trying when unsuccessful?

  • How often did the child offer to help somebody?

  • How often did the child get things done in a timely fashion?

  • How often did the child work well in groups?


  • How often did you serve an important role at home or school?

  • How often did you take an active role in your learning?

  • How often did you trust that your hard work will pay off?

  • How often did you share credit when appropriate?

It is important for parents or guardians to know: 

  • The DESSA-mini does not assess or diagnose students’ mental health

  • You have the right to opt-out your child. Students in grades nine through twelve may also opt-out on the day the survey is given. Opt-out information will be sent to families through Google by each school.

  • Access to the results of the DESSA will be limited to those who directly serve the student (e.g. classroom teacher, school counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker, principal)

  • If you have any questions or concerns about the DESSA, please contact your child’s school principal.