Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) - Toolshero

Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS): this article provides a practical explanation of the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS). The article begins with the definition of this term, followed by information about its origin and application in real life. You will also find a practical example of a situation in which this method is applied in a school. Enjoy reading!

What is the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)?

The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) is a program or system designed to assess, train and improve people’s social skills.

SSIS is a program developed by Frank M. Gresham and Stephen N. Elliott. Its aim is to promote social competence in people and groups and to address gaps in social skills.

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SSIS can be defined as a comprehensive approach that combines assessment tools, intervention strategies and progress monitoring to map and improve individuals’ social skills development.

Origin and purpose of Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

The SSIS was developed by Frank M. Gresham and Stephen N. Elliott, well-known researchers in the fields of psychology and education.

The system was first introduced in the early 2000s in response to the need for comprehensive social skills programs in schools and other settings.

The SSIS is designed to assess individuals and small groups on social skills, problem behaviors, and academic ability.

The system is intended to provide a comprehensive view of the school, home and community environments.

Designed as a replacement for the SSRS Social Skills Rating System, this significantly revised tool includes updated standards, improved psychometric properties, and new subscales.

The multi-rater SSIS helps measure:

Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

Figure 1 – Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

Social skills

  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Assertion
  • Responsibility
  • Empathy
  • Engagement
  • Self-control

Competitive Problem Behaviors

  • Externalizing
  • Bullying
  • Hyperactivity/inattention
  • Internalizing
  • Autism spectrum

Academic Competence

  • Reading performance
  • Mathematics performance
  • Fun in learning

Advantages Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

Below you can read about the advantages this system offers:

Comprehensive assessment

The SSIS includes reliable and valid assessment tools to evaluate individuals’ social skills in various areas.

Targeted interventions

Based on the assessment, the SSIS provides strategies and methodologies to address specific social skills deficiencies.

Individual planning

The program allows for the development of personalized plans that meet the unique needs of each individual.

Progress monitoring

With the SSIS, progress can be tracked over time, allowing adjustments to be made to interventions and monitoring the effectiveness of the program.

Versatile application

The SSIS can be used in schools, clinical settings and other contexts to support individuals of different ages and ability levels.

Components of the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)

The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) is a comprehensive program with several components designed to assess and improve social skills.

These components work together to provide a structured approach to social skills development.

Here are the main parts of the SSIS:

SSIS Assessment tools

The SSIS contains several assessment instruments that measure social skills in different domains.

These tools are used to identify strengths and weaknesses in social skills and as a basis for intervention planning.

Some commonly used assessment tools in the SSIS are:

  • Rating scales
  • Behavioral checklists
  • Direct observation methods

SSIS Skills training

Skills training is a core part of the SSIS program and involves teaching specific social skills through direct instruction, modeling and practice.

It focuses on teaching skills such as:

Skills training involves structured activities that use role play, feedback, and rewards to reinforce skills.

Develop Amazing Social Skills & Connect With People.   

SSIS Group interventions

The SSIS offers group interventions where individuals with similar social skills come together to participate in skills training.

These group interventions provide opportunities to practice social skills in a supportive and structured environment.

Group settings allow for interaction and feedback between peers, helping to apply social skills practice in the real world.

SSIS Individual Interventions

In addition to group interventions, the SSIS also recognizes the importance of individual interventions.

It allows tailoring interventions to specific social skills deficits and the unique needs of each individual.

Individual interventions can include one-on-one counseling, personalized goals, and tailored strategies based on the assessment results.

Progress monitoring and data management

The SSIS emphasizes on the importance of monitoring progress and collecting data throughout the intervention process.

Progress monitoring tools help track individual growth, assess the effectiveness of interventions, and make data-driven decisions.

The SSIS provides data management and analysis tools to support ongoing evaluation and adjustment of the intervention plan.

Collaboration between home and school

SSIS underlines the importance of parent-teacher collaboration in supporting the development of social skills.

SSIS encourages home-school collaboration by involving parents in the intervention process.

Parents receive guidance and resources to reinforce social skills training at home, ensuring consistency and application of skills across different surroundings.

Professional development and training

Professional development and training opportunities are available to ensure effective implementation of the SSIS.

Teachers, counselors and other professionals receive training in conducting assessments, conducting interventions and using the tools of the SSIS effectively.

The training equips professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to maximize the benefits of the program.

Example Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) in practice

Imagine a high school that wants to support the social and emotional development of its students.

Leaders decide to implement the SSIS, a comprehensive program to assess and improve students’ social skills.

This is how the process could go:


The school administers SSIS tests to students to evaluate their social skills in various areas, such as communication, cooperation and self-control.

The results provide valuable insights into individual strengths and areas for improvement.

Intervention planning

Based on the results, the school counselors and teachers identify specific shortcomings in social skills and draw up intervention plans.

They consider both group and individual interventions to meet the unique needs of each student.

Skills training in groups

The school organizes skills training in groups consisting of students with similar social skills goals.

In these groups, students participate in structured activities, role plays and discussions to learn and practice targeted social skills.

Trained professionals guide the sessions and provide guidance, feedback and rewards.

Individual support

For pupils with significant social skills challenges, the school offers individual support.

An assigned staff member, such as a tutor, works closely with these students and uses the SSIS framework to develop personalized goals and strategies.

Regular one-on-one sessions focus on skill development, problem solving and confidence building.

Progress monitoring

Throughout the intervention process, the school consistently monitors student progress using SSIS data management tools.

Regular assessments, observations and feedback from teachers and parents contribute to ongoing progress monitoring.

If necessary, adjustments are made to the interventions to ensure continued growth.

Collaboration between home and school

Parents are actively involved in the intervention process.

The school organizes workshops or training sessions to educate parents about the SSIS and provide strategies to strengthen social skills at home.

Positive reinforcement and recognition

The school implements a system of positive reinforcement and recognition to motivate students and appreciate their progress in social skills.

This can include verbal praise, certificates or other rewards to celebrate individual achievement and encourage further growth.

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you recognize the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS)? Are you familiar with the SSIS method? Which parts of the system appeal to you the most and why? Do you have experience with other training courses for social skills? To what extent do you think that cooperation between parents and schools contributes to the social development of children? Do you have tips or other comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Gresham, F. M., Elliott, S. N., Vance, M. J., & Cook, C. R. (2011). Comparability of the Social Skills Rating System to the Social Skills Improvement System: Content and psychometric comparisons across elementary and secondary age levels. School Psychology Quarterly, 26(1), 27.
  2. Gresham, F., & Elliott, S. N. (2008). Social skills improvement system (SSIS) rating scales. SSIS Rating Scales.
  3. Gresham, F. M., Elliott, S. N., & Kettler, R. J. (2010). Base rates of social skills acquisition/performance deficits, strengths, and problem behaviors: an analysis of the Social Skills Improvement System—Rating Scales. Psychological assessment, 22(4), 809.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2023). Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 12/15/2023 | Last update: 12/15/2023

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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