The Delaware System of Student Assessments (DeSSA) is the comprehensive umbrella of assessments used to measure the academic growth and achievement of Delaware students.DESSA Umbrella

These assessments are administered yearly across multiple subject areas in grades 3-12, and provide valuable information to students, parents, teachers, administrators, and state level leaders about how students are progressing towards College and Career Readiness. These assessments measure student mastery of state standards through tasks that require students to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills across all content areas (reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies).

The information below describes key aspect of each assessment as well as related resources.

Smarter Balanced ELA & Mathematics

Grades 3 - 8

Computer administered assessments in the areas of English and Mathematics that measure student mastery towards grade level standards. The assessment adapts to each student’s ability giving teachers and parents more targeted information.

ELA target areas: Reading, Writing, Listening, Research

Math target areas: Concepts/Procedures, Problem Solving, Modeling/Data Analysis, Communicating Reasoning


DeSSA Social Studies

Grades 4, 7, and 11

A redesigned Social Studies assessment was piloted during the 2017-18 school year. The new assessment is administered online and aligns with the Delaware Social Studies and Literacy in History/Social Studies state standards.


DeSSA Science

Grades 5, 8, and Biology

A redesigned Science assessment was piloted during the 2017-18 school year. The new assessment is administered online and aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which serve as Delaware’s state standards for science.



Grades 3-8 and 11

DeSSA Alt is Delaware’s Alternative assessment designed to assess what students with the most significant disabilities know and can do based on state standards. This alternate assessment meets federal requirements and mirror the general education assessments in content area and grade level.


Delaware Communications Portfolio Summary (DCPS)

Grades 3-12

The DCPS was developed for DeSSA-alternate assessment eligible students with no consistent and reliable mode of communication understood by others. The assessment is comprised of various tasks aligned with the student’s communication level and is completed over three windows of time throughout the year.


Grades 8, 9, and 10

PSAT stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. This is a standardized test administered by the College Board and cosponsored by the (NMSC) National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The exam is given to high school sophomores and juniors to prepare for the SAT and to qualify for scholarships awarded by the NMSC.



Grades 11 and 12

The SAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. It is administered by the College Board and is intended to assess students’ readiness for college. Components of the test include reading, writing and language, and math as well as an optional essay component.



Grades 4, 8, and 12

NAEP stands for National Assessment of Educational Progress. This is the largest nationally normed assessment that is administered to students across the nation. Results serve as a common metric for what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.




Grades 4 and 8

TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) is an international assessment that measures student learning in mathematics and science. The assessment is administered every 4 years nationwide is used to determine how U.S. students compare to students in other countries.



Grades K-12

ACCESS is a secure large-scale English language proficiency assessment administered to students who have been identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). It is given to monitor students’ progress in acquiring academic English.


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