Press Releases


CT State Department of Education Continues New Partnership to Launch Statewide K-12 Social-Emotional Learning Assessment System

Universal Screener Provides Data to Strengthen Social-Emotional Skills, Informs Instruction for Students Who Need Additional Support

(Hartford) – The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) today announced its first cohort of 33 participating districts that will receive Aperture Education’s research-backed social-emotional learning (SEL) assessments, the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) System and the DESSA-mini. CSDE previously announced its partnership with Aperture to provide, at no cost, a statewide SEL assessment to all K-12 schools which includes training, access to reporting features, and hundreds of growth strategies and interventions to strengthen social-emotional skills and provide additional supports to students.

The DESSA is a strength-based social-emotional observation and assessment tool that helps schools gauge the overall social-emotional knowledge, skills, and attitudes of students and helps determine how the school can develop and implement strategies to best support them. Teachers use the system to identify each student’s social-emotional competence that, in turn, will help identify their strengths and instructional needs so that parents and teachers can work together to help the student acquire social and emotional skills that are essential to success in school and life.

 “We are delighted to see districts take so much interest in adding the DESSA to their SEL toolkits given the pandemic’s impact on students’ social-emotional development. On implementation of this resource, the research has shown improvements in school climate, student achievement, and early identification for students who are in need of targeted interventions and support,” said Acting Commissioner of Education Charlene Russell-Tucker.

The partnership is just one example of how CSDE is leading the way in providing districts and schools the resources and technical assistance necessary to support students’ social-emotional well-being. The initiative will expand to an additional 75 participants this fall, enabling more than half of Connecticut’s districts to use the universal screener, and the DESSA and DESSA-mini will eventually be available to all school districts. Participating districts will receive training and technical assistance from Aperture regarding how to tailor implementation to their school district.

“Connecticut is showing tremendous leadership in ensuring equitable access to social and emotional learning in its schools and we are honored to partner with the CSDE on this initiative. By providing schools with reliable, actionable SEL data, we can help them identify the best ways to support every students’ well-being which will help them set students up for success both in school, and in life. We are looking forward to collaborating with districts across the state to help them support the whole child,” said Jessica Adamson, CEO of Aperture Education.  

The DESSA also helps CSDE meet its obligation under new state law that requires the department to provide, upon request, and assist public school districts in administering a SEL assessment to students for the upcoming school year. To learn more, visit



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