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DESSA Parent Letter K-8

October 21, 2021     


Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s) of Grades K-8,                                                           

We are thrilled to let you know about an exciting program that is taking place in your child’s classroom this school year! Over two decades of research has helped us understand the important role social and emotional skills play in each child’s success in school, in the community, and, eventually, in higher education and the workplace. Skills such as demonstrating self-control, persisting at challenging tasks, making good decisions, and working well in groups are all necessary to being successful students and adults. To support our students in developing these skills that will help them become successful and responsible adults, we will be implementing a social emotional learning program throughout the school district.

As part of this program, our teachers will be using a tool called the DESSA. This tool asks teachers to assess how often a student has demonstrated specific life skills in the past month. They will assess your child three times this school year. 

Sample DESSA questions include:

  •         How often did the child keep trying when unsuccessful?
  •         How often did the child offer to help somebody?
  •         How often did the child get things done in a timely fashion?
  •         How often did the child work well in groups?

The purpose of the DESSA is to identify which life skills your child has already learned and what skills they might still need to develop. Once our teachers identify the skills their students still need to learn, social workers will teach those skills using lesson plans in either the classroom or in small groups. Our goal is to ensure that your child is continuously developing the skills they need for lifelong success.

While the DESSA is just one component of our SEL program this year, supplementing Toolbox and PBIS initiatives, we want to make sure that you are informed of our use of this instructional tool. We believe that the information gathered from the DESSA will be beneficial to your child’s overall success both inside and outside of the classroom. 

The DESSA is published by Aperture Education. Our district chose the DESSA in part because of Aperture Education’s strong commitment to respecting and protecting your child’s privacy. Hundreds of school districts and afterschool programs nationwide utilize the DESSA and trust Aperture Education with protecting their students’ data. Aperture Education will never share your child’s data with a third party. We also chose Aperture Education because they offer a “parent portal” on their website that provides resources, tips, and strategies to parents on supporting their child’s development. To view additional information about the DESSA, the privacy policy, or the parent portal, visit Please feel free to contact me at if you have any questions.


Kimberly Duane

Student Services Coordinator

Randolph Public Schools