Snapshot: Assessment Professional Learning Community

Overall Goal

The Assessments Professional Learning Community (PLC) will explore using the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Program (DECA for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, DESSA for kindergarten to 8th grade) to evaluate social-emotional competence. Using the assessments, it will identify specific trends across stages of development to align supports for teachers, parents, students and school leadership. Next, the PLC will use the Tribes curriculum and New Beginnings strategies to prevent and/or address the trends identified through the assessments.


The PLC felt this was an area of need for the schools: to align social-emotional assessment from birth through 3rd grade in order to support social-emotional competencies and to identify and respond to behavioral concerns. The PLC was looking for a proactive approach to social-emotional development rather than a reactionary model that only called for intervention once a problem had been identified. Specifically, the PLC was interested in assessment practices that—when integrated with curricula, teaching and work with families—would support a prevention-based approach toward social-emotional-related concerns and promote mental health for all students.


  • Classroom teachers completed three DECA/DESSA assessments on children in their classrooms who exhibited social-emotional concerns.
  • The PLC reviewed the results of the assessments and aligned themes that were consistent from birth through 3rd grade.
  • Based on the needs identified, the group continued exploring children’s initiative taking and self-confidence skills, and more specifically, the self-efficacy skills that are related to a child’s social-emotional needs and academic success.
  • Each PLC member researched and shared articles related to the development and support of self-efficacy in his or her age group.
  • Group members shared strategies and activities they tried in the classroom to promote self-confidence and self-efficacy skills in children using Tribes and/or New Beginnings.
  • The group decided to use Albert Bandura’s theories to help guide discussion on how children build self-efficacy and self-confidence skills.


For its final project, the Assessment PLC developed a website highlighting the work and collaboration efforts of the PLC, which is comprised of staff from Educare, Donoghue and North Kenwood/Oakland. The website includes a roadmap of how the PLC came to focus on social-emotional development and self-efficacy for children from birth through 3rd grade; resources for parents, teachers and school leadership; articles related to the topic; a case study completed in one toddler classroom relating to social-emotional development and routines; a brief biography from each member of the PLC; and Illinois Learning Standards related to social-emotional development from birth through 3rd grade.


For more information on Albert Bandura and his theories, see: