Over the last two years, New York City students have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic and pressing concerns over long-standing racial injustices. The New York City Department of Education and its Division of School Climate and Wellness recognized the need to support teachers and schools in helping students who have been impacted by stress and trauma.

EDC is leading an evaluation of StrongResilientNYC, the city’s social and emotional learning (SEL) initiative. Through this initiative, over 1,500 New York City schools are using Aperture Education’s DESSA instrument to assess the social and emotional strengths and needs of over 80 percent of the city’s 1.1 million K–12 students. The Urban Assembly is providing schools with training on SEL intervention strategies and supports to address students’ SEL and mental health needs.

Key Activities

As the lead evaluator for StrongResilientNYC, EDC worked with its partners to develop an evaluation plan to inform continuous quality improvement (CQI), measure impact, and tell the story of the nation’s largest SEL initiative. Currently, EDC is conducting the following activities:

  • Evaluating the quality and reach of the initiative’s online trainings for education leaders, school-based SEL leaders, and teachers
  • Collecting data and reporting on the number of students rated through the DESSA and assigned to SEL universal, targeted, and/or intensive strategies based on their DESSA rating
  • Conducting a city-wide end-of-year survey of NYC educators on their experiences with the DESSA and other StrongResilientNYC supports
  • Developing an internal dashboard for the StrongResilientNYC team so they can have up-to-date data at their fingertips


  • Findings will advance knowledge of the impact of StrongResilientNYC on building teachers’ and leaders’ knowledge of effective strategies to address students’ SEL and mental health needs.
  • Results will provide insight into how StrongResilientNYC impacts students’ well-being.
  • During the 2020–2021 school year, over 70,000 educators participated in the end-of-year survey, providing rich and valuable feedback about their experiences with the initiative in its first year.

Initiative impacts:

  • 72,460 educators completed the StrongResilientNYC trainings in the 2020–2021 school year.
  • 641,838 students (85% of all NYC students) were rated using the DESSA.
  • 49.7% of students participating in StrongResilientNYC showed meaningful social and emotional growth from fall to spring; 25.9% of students showed large positive growth.

Learn More

New York City Department of Education