Universal screening for social–emotional competencies: A study of the reliability and validity of the DESSA-mini



The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability of the eight-item Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA)-mini and its validity in relation to the 72-item version DESSA. The sample included teacher ratings for 1,234 children in kindergarten through eighth grade who comprised the standardization sample. The median alpha reliability coefficients across grades for the four forms of the DESSA-mini ranged from a low of .915 (Mini 1) to a high of .924 (Mini 3). These findings suggested that DESSA-minis have excellent reliability. The differences between the DESSA Social–Emotional Composite (SEC) T-scores and T-scores obtained from each of the four DESSA-minis were trivial (the largest d-ratio was .023). The percentage of times the DESSA-mini and DESSA SEC T-scores yielded the same result was computed (i.e., the score indicates or does not indicate whether the child needs social–emotional instruction). Those percentages ranged from a low of 94.8 (Mini 3) to a high of 96.5 (Mini 1). Finally, sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive power were examined for each DESSA-mini. Findings suggested that the DESSA-mini is a viable tool for universal screening of social–emotional competencies related to resilience. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.