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Developmental Assets Profile

The Developmental Assets Profile is a reliable and valid assessment of the strengths, supports, and social-emotional factors young people need to succeed.

Measuring Young People’s Views of Strengths, Supports, and Gaps

The Developmental Asset Profile (DAP) is a reliable and valid assessment of the strengths, supports, and social-emotional factors that are essential for young people’s success in school and life. It grows out of years of research with millions of young people and is based on Search Institute’s framework of Developmental Assets. Schools and organizations use the survey to measure young people’s understanding of the strengths, supports, and gaps in their lives.

The First Step In Engaging With Young People

It’s tough being a teen. Recent data show many young people are facing mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression; bullying; and drug and alcohol use. Even before the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 70% of teens in one survey identified anxiety and depression as a major problem among their peers. Schools and organizations that work with youth can help them navigate challenges and overcome difficult situations. But the first step in engaging with young people is understanding their day-to-day experiences and perspectives. That is where the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) comes into play.

The DAP helps answer questions such as:

  1. Do young people feel surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them?
  2. Do they feel valued, valuable, and safe?
  3. Do they believe they are provided with clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to always do their best?
  4. Do they have opportunities outside of school to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults?
  5. Do they understand the lasting importance of learning and believe in their own abilities?
  6. Are they developing strong guiding values that will help them make healthy life choices, including responsibility, empathy, and self-control?
  7. Do they have the skills to interact effectively with others, make difficult decisions, and cope with new situations?
  8. Do they believe in their own self-worth and feel they have control over the things that happen to them?

Connecting Assets to Behavior

The DAP is built on the Developmental Assets® Framework, a set of 40 positive supports, opportunities, and relationship qualities young people need across all aspects of their lives (called “external assets”) and personal skills, social emotional strengths, self-perceptions, and values they need to make good choices, take responsibility for their actions, and be independent (called “internal assets”).

Our research tells us that when young people have few assets, they are more likely to engage in a wide array of high-risk behaviors.

Likewise, when youth have more assets, they are:

  • More likely to thrive now and in the future.
  • Less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.
  • More likely to be resilient in the face of challenges.

Learning from the Developmental Assets Profile

Schools, practitioners, and leaders are gaining valuable insights and data from the DAP. 

They are using it to:

  • Discover the social-emotional strengths and supports that young people have.
  • Listen to the perspectives of young people.
  • See their work in the context of young people’s own strengths and the supports they have (or don’t have) in their families, schools, organizations, and communities.
  • Guide proactive and focused planning to increase positive outcomes.

Putting DAP to Work

In this case study from Asheville, North Carolina, the local United Way launched a collaborative initiative to improve success for middle school students. Nine sites began with two important measurements, the Developmental Assets Profile and the Youth Program Quality Assessment (Youth PQA).

The DAP survey taught the organizations that young people in their programs reported higher self-esteem and parental support than providers were expecting. And they expressed a good deal of hope for the future — all positive assets.

But these young people also were lacking certain assets:

  • Engaging in creative activities and reading for pleasure.
  • Monitoring their frustrations and expressing feelings.
  • Resolving conflict and being sensitive to others.
  • Resisting peer pressure.
  • Serving others, helping the community, helping to solve problems (although they scored high on wanting to help).
  • Having a “useful role.” One organization reported that young people felt that they were not engaged in activities “that reflect their choices.”

With this data in hand, the programs were able to help out-of-school-time providers to tailor solutions that offered young people more engagement and more of a voice. Student-led projects include a clothes drive, a campaign to build a basketball court, and more recreation and arts offerings.

When the DAP was administered a second time, more students reported having these developmental assets: managing frustration, resolving conflict, and serving others.

"It helps the staff continually ask itself, ‘How can we, as adults, be asset builders?"
Travis Herbert, Campus Director In Real Life, Asheville, NC

A Tool with a Track Record

The DAP has been helping organizations and partnerships understand the social-emotional strengths of youth since 2005. To date, nearly a million young people between the ages of 8 and 18 have taken the DAP, making it one of the most widely used instruments in the world for measuring the strengths and supports that influence a youth’s success in school and life. Multiple studies have demonstrated that the DAP measures the important SEL skills (found in the internal assets) in valid and reliable ways. It has been listed in the CASEL* compendium as a valid social-emotional assessment tool.

Developmental Assets Profile Survey Details

The online survey is designed for young people in grades 4-12. The minimum number of young people needed for the report is 30. It includes 58 Likert Scale questions and takes 10 minutes to complete.

It includes the following elements:

  • Assessments for each participating youth
  • Thorough user guide for planning your survey administration
  • In-depth aggregate reports to guide data utilization
  • Language options for English, Spanish, and several others (please contact us for options)
  • Measures of social-emotional skills
  • Access to the online survey
  • Survey administration support

The following options are also available:

  • Sub-reports based on a specific cohort of youth
  • Raw data at the individualized level
  • Individually scored data file
  • Aggregate report(s) of multiple sites
  • Data planning consult on-site or via phone
  • Data presentation
  • Professional learning workshops
  • Technical Assistance, consulting, workshops, or presentations

Recommended Users

Youth programs, schools, juvenile justice, mental health, communities, and family services settings. Qualified clinicians, school counselors, mental health practitioners, and social workers can also use the DAP as an individual assessment.


Site report – $250

  • Includes up to 100 surveys

Aggregate report of multiple sites – $250

  • Does not include surveys

Each additional survey – $2.00

  • Beyond the included 100 surveys

Get Started

To get started with one of our surveys, or to consult with our staff about which survey is right for you, fill out this form (Embed Intake Form)!