Aperture Education, the leading provider of research-based social emotional learning assessments for K-12 schools, has recently introduced two new solutions to its product suite. Its student-facing portal offers a new DESSA Middle School Student Self-Report to capture student voices regarding social and emotional skills. It also delivers gamified activities to build students’ competence, guiding them through self-paced key growth areas explicitly designed for grades 6-8.
The platform has also debuted in the SEL Strategies and Interventions Package, which supports busy teachers with recommendations for universal and targeted instructional practices that are directly aligned with students’ DESSA assessment results. As a part of this initiative, these new offerings will further build resilient school communities using a proactive, strength-based approach that fosters positive student and educator mindsets to accelerate learning.
Speaking about the development, Vice President, Research & Development of Aperture Education, Evelyn Johnson, said:
As schools continue to grapple with the disruptions to learning caused by the pandemic, investing in social and emotional learning is critical if we want to help students build a strong foundation for success in the classroom and beyond. With our research-based foundation and accurate and actionable data, Aperture empowers students and teachers with the appropriate steps for nurturing social and emotional competencies. Our new offerings – Middle School Student Self-Report and SEL Strategies and Interventions Package – are essential components for changing the trajectory of learning with a focus on students’ strengths while driving positive classroom environments and optimal learning outcomes.
DESSA Middle School Student Self-Report
Adolescents’ engagement is critical to learning success. Yet students today face the unprecedented challenges of social media, political polarization and learning gaps from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on the success of Aperture’s High School Student Self-Report, the Middle School Student Self-Report will also reside in Aperture’s Student Portal. The Student Portal is the only student-facing, web-based SEL platform that gives students in grades 6-12 their assessment results and empowers them to take ownership of building social and emotional strengths to advance their learning and development.
Students can complete their assessment on a computer, instantaneously gauging their social and emotional competencies. Through the DESSA’s strength-based results, students focus on developing their social and emotional skills through gamified self-directed goal setting.
Aperture Education convened a Youth Advisory Board of students nationwide to provide feedback on redesigning the Student Self-Report results page. This input led to enhancements ensuring the interface is easy and fun to use and students feel more invested in their learning.
The self-reporting tool consists of 50 questions aligned with the five CASEL competencies and takes most students less than seven minutes to complete. Students receive instant feedback and then can engage in 18 research-based SEL Challenges that aid them in making better choices and enhancing social and emotional skills. The gamified approach lets students earn points and badges for increased engagement while showing them how many of their peers earned the same badge. These challenges promote goal setting through 53 personalized SMART tracks in categories including healthy habits, academics, extracurriculars, finances, etc.
One middle schooler reported, “The Student Portal is so cool because you can compare your strengths and weaknesses by looking at them and seeing where you can grow. While another student stated, “I’m competitive, so it motivates me to know that only one other student has earned a particular badge; it’ll make me work even harder to earn it.”
With more pulls and pressures on educators, they need easy-to-integrate tools that quickly cultivate positive classroom cultures, starting with building strong student relationships. Educators can soon use DESSA results and SEL Strategies to focus on the assets of each student, then reinforce those strengths to build up their students and accelerate their capacity for learning and growth.
Rather than taking additional time to evaluate student assessment data and implement plans, the SEL Strategies and Interventions Package gives teachers the following steps to support teaching practices and interventions. These range from universal strategies for building a positive classroom environment to those designed for small groups, and even intensive competency-specific supports and services, all tied directly to DESSA results. The scalable offering provides each student with focused levels of support to amplify strengths and develop key growth areas academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally.
The SEL Strategies and Interventions Package includes four components:
- SEL Strategies: 90 research-based universal and small group activities to promote students’ social and emotional competence.
- Targeted Intervention Programs: Five multi-week, targeted intervention programs aligned to social and emotional competence.
- Data-driven Recommendations: Educators receive SEL strategy recommendations directly aligned to students’ DESSA assessment results.
- Strategies Tracking: Educators can quickly and easily document which SEL strategies are being implemented and completed.
Aperture Education claims to have empowered over 8,000 schools and out-of-school time programs across North America to measure, strengthen, and support social and emotional competence in K-12 youth and educators. Its system includes the DESSA suite of strength-based assessments, CASEL™-aligned intervention strategies, a student-facing portal, and robust reporting in one easy-to-use digital platform. This system enables education leaders to make strategic, data-based decisions about SEL within their organizations and empowers students with a voice in developing their life skills. The company has supported more than 2 million students in their social and emotional growth and continues to create innovative solutions to bring the whole child into focus.