Connecticut Provides Districts No-Cost Access to Student Well-Being, Resource Assessment System

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) used $2 million in ESSER I state set-aside to make the Devereux Student Strength Assessment (DESSA) System available to districts at no cost. The system is a comprehensive, strength-based assessment of behaviors related to social-emotional well-being that helps identify interventions and supports for students, including documenting progress and outcomes over time. The system also targets specific areas of need for individual students.

We are spotlighting this practice because it addresses the well-documented influence that the pandemic has taken on student mental well-being, including social and emotional development. Importantly, the tool will reduce the local burden and focus on using data as a key resource to identify individual needs.

Reviewer Analysis

The Data Quality Campaign

Connecticut’s plan highlights the use of data to understand and support students and families. The use of the DESSA system is coupled with a webinar series to help educators make use of social-emotional data to best serve students. Context and data literacy are key components of effective data use. - Rachel Anderson

John White

Bottom line is that states should have invested set aside in infrastructural issues like tests and screeners to a much greater degree than they did. It’s good to see a state doing this.

Leslie Villegas

English learners and their families have been among those most affected by the pandemic and it is critically important to gauge the state of their mental health.

New Leaders

The commitment to students’ well-being and social-emotional development is encouraging. Connecticut will need to ensure there are follow-up systems and structures in place for teachers and leaders on how to use this data effectively and implement culturally responsive, evidence-based interventions.

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