Devereux Student Strengths Asessment-Mini (DESSA-mini)

General Information on the Measure
Purpose of the measure

DESSA-mini is a brief version of the DESSA intended to serve as a universal screener of social and emotional competencies.

Main constructs measured

Social-emotional competencies, Cognitive competencies; Interpersonal competencies; Intrapersonal competencies

Applicable grade levels K-8
Publication year for the most recent version


Year originally developed


Related measures
Measure Administration

Parents/guardians, teachers, or staff at schools and child-serving agencies, including after-school, social service, and mental health programs.

Method of administration

Paper/Pencil, Digital

Number of items


Item format

Five-point Likert-type scale

Administration time

One minute

Available languages

English, Spanish

Fee for use Fee charged by developer
Credentials required for administration


Overall score reporting

A Social & Emotional Total (SET) score is reported.

Subscore reporting


Scoring procedures

Scoring manual and online scoring service is provided by the assessment developers.

Interpretive information

DESSA-mini results are reported using T-scores and percentile ranks. Tools are also available for pre-test/post-test comparisons and rater comparisons. Online administration produces individual student, classroom, site, and program-level reports.

Evidence of Technical Quality
Populations for which technical quality evidence has been collected

A nationally representative sample of 1,250 students in grades K-8 in the U.S. (Naglieri et al., 2011). 12,000 students in grades K-8 in a large urban school district (Shapiro et al., 2016).

Reliability evidence

Median Internal consistency estimates for all four forms of the DESSA-mini were approximately 0.92. DESSA-mini and DESSA showed classification consistency—between 94.8% and 96.5% of the time. DESSA-mini and DESSA yielded the same classification for a given student (identifying whether a child does or does not need social-emotional instruction) (Naglieri et al., 2011).

Validity evidence
Evidence based on content
Content-related validity evidence was gathered through literature reviews (LeBuffe et al., 2009).
Evidence based on response processes
No information is available in the references reviewed.
Evidence based on internal structure
Four equated forms were derived from the 72-item DESSA (Naglieri et al., 2011).
Evidence based on relations with other variables
Very small mean differences between the overall scores calculated based on DESSA-mini and DESSA (Naglieri et al., 2011; Shapiro et al, 2016). DESSA-mini scores predicted the likelihood of a student having a disciplinary infraction during the school year (Shapiro et al., 2016).
Locating the Measure
Obtaining a copy of the measure

Naglieri, J. A., LeBuffe, P. A., & Shapiro, V. B. "The Devereux Student Strengths Assessment – Mini (DESSA-Mini): Assessment, technical manual, and user's guide," Apperson, 2011/2014.

Shapiro, V. B., Kim, B. K. E., Robitaille, J. L., & LeBuffe, P. A. "Protective Factor Screening for Prevention Practice: Sensitivity and Specificity of the DESSA-Mini," School Psychology Quarterly , Advance online publication, October 13, 2016.

Naglieri, J. A., LeBuffe, P., & Shapiro, V. B. "Universal screening for social–emotional competencies: A study of the reliability and validity of the DESSA‐mini," Psychology in the Schools, Vol. 48, No. 7, 2011, pp. 660–671.


This measure is also reviewed in the AWG Guide.

Measure summary updated October 3, 2018.