Social Competency

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Number of 5th Total Students Reporting Higher Levels of Social Competency, as Determined by the Developmental Assets Scale, 1995 - 2019: by Region

East Central5th3,303.0
West Central5th1,361.0

About the Indicator:

The Developmental Assets framework was devised by the Search Institute* to identify skills and behaviors that contribute to positive adolescent development. Survey questions were generated and grouped to compose a series of scales to assess such development. For the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS), questions were added to facilitate analysis of the following scales: Social Competency, Positive Identity, and Empowerment (please visit for additional fact sheets).

The Social Competency Scale comprises 8 subsets of a question included on the Minnesota Student Survey, as follows:

In general, how does each of the following statements describe you?

  • I say no to things that are dangerous or unhealthy
  • I build friendships with other people
  • I express my feelings in proper ways
  • I plan ahead and make good choices
  • I stay away from bad influences
  • I resolve conflicts without anyone getting hurt
  • I accept people who are different from me
  • I am sensitive to the needs and feelings of others

The response options to these statements were, “Not at all or rarely,” “Somewhat or sometimes,” “Very or often,” and “Extremely or almost always.” These responses were assigned a numerical score of 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Students with a total score of 24 or more (an average of 3 or higher for the 8 questions) are considered by this scale to have higher levels of social competency.

A new method of analysis was introduced in 2019, to create consistency across agencies. Prior year data has been changed. For more information about the change, or for help in comparing your community's data, please email

*Items used and adapted with permission from Search Institute (2004). The Developmental Assets Profile. Minneapolis: Author. Copyright © 2004 by Search Institute ( All rights reserved.

Data Source: Minnesota Student Survey (MSS)

Description: The MSS is a confidential and anonymous self-administered survey given to students attending Minnesota public, charter and tribal schools. From 1995 to 2010, the survey was administered to students in 6th, 9th, and 12th grades. New in 2013, the survey was administered to students in 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th grades. Trend data are now only available for 9th graders, and only for survey questions that did not change. Most schools elect to participate in the survey; in 2013, this included 84% of public schools in Minnesota.

Although the data are not presented here, the survey is also administered to area learning centers, juvenile correction facilities and private schools electing to participate.

Sponsored by: Minnesota Department of Education

Geographic Level: State, Region, and County

Aggregated data at the state and county level do not reveal disparities that may exist within a given geographic area.

Frequency: Data collected and reported every three years

Characteristics: The results of the MSS are also available at a county level. Data Privacy requirements mandate that data is presented in a manner such that no individual student can be identified through the presentation of the results. As part of the Data Privacy practices, the results are also presented in a manner that no individual school district could be identified through the results. Therefore, for counties that have only one school district, the results are not presented. Results are also withheld for counties in which the minimum number for student participation was not met.

The MSS is a “census” of schools, not a sample. The school districts get their own data. Fifth-graders were not asked all substance use questions. Some school districts do not participate, and student participation within the school district can vary widely. These data are self-reported.