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DESSA Comprehensive System
Devereux Student Strengths Assessment Comprehensive System

Paul A. LeBuffe, M.A.
Valerie Shapiro, M.S.W 
Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D.


The DESSA Comprehensive System is comprised of two innovative rating scales designed to screen, assess, guide intervention planning, monitor progress, and evaluate outcomes related to social-emotional competence and resilience of students grades K-8.

The two-part system designed to help school and after-school program staff promote the healthy social-emotional development of all children. First, use the universal screener, the DESSA-mini, to evaluate all children in your class. Then administer the DESSA to those children identified as at risk for social-emotional difficulties. The DESSA is a thorough assessment of social-emotional competencies that provides a variety of tools to chart and communicate results, monitor progress, and evaluate outcomes.

The DESSA-mini consists of four different 8-item formsprovides one score, the Social-Emotional Total. The DESSA-mini enables teachers and staff to screen each child’s social-emotional competence in about one minute, or an entire classroom in one planning period. 

The DESSA is a behavior rating scale that assesses skills related to social-emotional competence, resilience, and academic success of children in kindergarten through 8th grade, between the ages of 4 to 14.  The DESSA can be used to: 

  • Identify social-emotional strengths and needs of elementary and middle school children
  • Produce classroom profiles that guide universal prevention and promotion strategies
  • Identify at-risk children who have specific social-emotional needs
  • Produce individual student profiles that guide targeted prevention strategies
  • For special education students, identify important strengths that can be incorporated into Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Evaluate social-emotional learning outcomes at the child, class, grade, school, and district level

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Scales & Forms

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Optimistic Thinking
  • Goal-Directed Behavior
  • Social Awareness
  • Decision Making
  • Relationship Skills
  • Self-Awareness
  • Self-Management
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Paul A. LeBuffe, M.A.,
Valerie Shapiro, M.S.W., &
Jack A. Naglieri, Ph.D

Age Range 4 to 14 years

Administration Time 10 minutes

Administration Type
  • Parent-completed
  • Teacher-completed
  • After-school staff-completed
Qualification Level B

  • Handscored