Welcome parents and caregivers!

Support your student(s) by helping them develop the skills that will guide their success through their K-12 education and beyond


This year, a student in your care will be assessed by their teacher or counselor using the DESSA, a suite of research-based screening tools and assessments used with students K-12 created by Aperture Education.

The DESSA will measure your student’s grasp of important skills that will help them succeed during their school years and even after they graduate from high school. These skills are known as social and emotional skills and include taking responsibility for their actions, and working well with others.

The 8 skills measured by the DESSA can easily be taught and learned by students of all ages. Keep reading to learn more about the skills measured by the DESSA and how you can work with your student on each one.

The dessa measures these 8 skills:

Aperture 8_Self-Awareness


A student’s realistic understanding of their strengths and limitations and consistent desire for self-improvement.

Aperture 8_Self Management


A student’s success in controlling their emotions and behaviors, to complete a task or succeed in a new or challenging situation.

Aperture 8_Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility

A student’s tendency to be careful and reliable in their actions and in contributing to group efforts.

Aperture 8_Decision Making


A student’s approach to problem-solving that involves learning from others and from their own previous experiences, using their values to guide action, and accepting responsibility for their decisions.

Aperture 8_Goal Directed Behavior

goal-directed behavior

A student’s initiation of, and persistence in completing tasks of varying difficulty.

Aperture 8_Social Awareness


A student’s capacity to interact with others in a way that shows respect for their ideas and behaviors.

Aperture 8_Relationship Skills


A student’s consistent performance of socially acceptable actions that promote and maintain positive connections with others.

Aperture 8_Optimistic Thinking


 A student’s attitude of confidence, hopefulness, and positive thinking regarding themselves and their life situations in the past, present, and future.

sample questions from the dessa:

why these 8 skills?

These 8 skills are important because they have been found to have a strong relationship with success in academics and positive engagement in school activities. They are also some of the top skills that colleges and employers are looking for as they recruit. 

The DESSA gives teachers and counselors an understanding of which of these skills are strengths for your student, and which ones they need further instruction in. They can then tailor their instruction to your student to help them build the skills they need support in.

We Start with strengths

One unique feature of the DESSA is that it is one of the only strength-based assessments. It is meant to highlight positive social and emotional behaviors, help students identify things they are already good at, and help them leverage their strengths to grow in other areas. For example, if a student rates high in Goal-Directed Behavior but low in Relationship Skills, teachers can help students use their goal-setting skills to improve their relationship skills. 

Hear from a parent like you:

Why a strength-based approach matters

resources for students and families

Learn more about each skill measured by the DESSA and activities families or educators can use with students K-12 to build their skills.