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HomeResourcesThe Aperture System Assesses SEL Competence

The Aperture System Assesses SEL Competence

The Aperture System from Aperture Education houses the DESSA, a nationally standardized, strength-based behavior rating scale that assesses students’ social and emotional competence in eight key areas: self-awareness, optimistic thinking, self-management, goal-directed behavior, decision making, personal responsibility, relationship skills, and social awareness. The Aperture System includes the DESSA for grades K–8 and the DESSA–High School Edition. It is used by more than 7,000 schools and out-of-schooltime programs and has supported more than two million students.

Starting this fall, high school students can select from up to 14 different languages to take the DESSA self-evaluation—with more languages being added soon. The K–8 DESSA is typically administered by a teacher and is available in Spanish and English. The DESSA has gone through extensive research and development to ensure cultural sensitivity to mitigate any potential bias.
DESSA data identifies students’ social and emotional strengths and areas that may need additional support. This helps educators identify appropriate strategies for those students and empowers administrators to make strategic, data-driven decisions about social and emotional learning (SEL) in their districts.

SEL can be especially impactful for students whose first language is not English. Research ( shows improving the social and emotional well-being of language learners may be just as important as academic instructional support (INTESOL Journal, 14(1), 2017). SEL can assist in ELLs’ and immigrant students’ transition into schools and communities. It promotes strong relationships with educators and peers and equips students with skills to succeed in new environments.

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