PSD-AS Frequently Asked Questions

This section answers some of the most commonly asked questions Assessments Australia receives regarding the Department of Education and Training (DET) Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) and our role as the Assessment Service provider. If you can’t find what you’re looking for below or would like some more information please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on (03) 9663 6622 or via [email protected].

The PSD and our role

What is the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)?
The Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) provides Victorian government schools with supplementary funding to assist in supporting students with disabilities within their schools. Students who meet the criteria outlined by the Department of Education and Training (DET) for intellectual disability and other moderate to severe disabilities may be eligible for such funding.

DET provides a thorough description of the PSD process, including all disability categories, on their website. For questions regarding the PSD process, contact the DET PSD Application Hotline on 1300 308 964.

Assessments Australia provides assessment services for two of the disability categories supported through the PSD: Intellectual Disability (ID), and Severe Language Disorder with Critical Education Needs (SLD-CEN). For information regarding other disability categories, please refer to the DET website.

 

What is Assessments Australia’s role within the PSD?
From January 1st 2015 Assessments Australia has been contracted by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to provide the state-wide assessment service for the PSD in Victoria. This includes coordination and administration of the assessments required to support applications for ID or SLD-CEN funding according to the guidelines outlined by DET.

 

I think one of my students may be eligible for PSD funding. What should I do?
Schools are responsible for the preparation and submission of PSD applications. If you suspect that your student may be eligible for funding under the DET guidelines, it is recommended that you discuss this with your school principal or designated PSD staff member.

Assessment Service Categories

What kind of assessments do you perform?
Assessments Australia is contracted by DET to conduct psychological and speech and language assessments to assist in determining eligibility for an application for PSD funding under the categories of ID or SLD-CEN.

For queries regarding the other educational, disability or child welfare assessments that Assessments Australia can provide, please call us on 03 9654 0204 or [email protected].

 

What is an Intellectual Disability (ID)?
An Intellectual Disability (ID) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by significantly below average intellectual and adaptive functioning in conceptual, social and practical domains.

DET determines eligibility for PSD funding according to the following criteria:

A. Sub-average general intellectual functioning which is demonstrated by a full-scale score of
two standard deviations or more below the mean score on a standardised individual test
of general intelligence;

AND

B. Significant deficits in adaptive behaviour established by a composite score of two standard
deviations or more below the mean on an approved standardised test of adaptive
behaviour;

AND

C. A history and evidence of an ongoing problem with an expectation of continuation during
the school years.

 

What is a Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN)?
Severe Language Disorder (SLD) refers to persistent difficulty in expressive (oral and written communication, etc.) and/or receptive (listening, reading, etc.) language development. To be considered an SLD, the language difficulties must not be better accounted for by other conditions, including: intellectual disability, hearing impairment, environmental or emotional factors. Students with Severe Language Disorders may be supported via the school’s Language Support Program.

DET provides individualised funding support for students with a Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN). DET determines eligibility for PSD funding according to the following criteria:

A. A score of three or more standard deviations below the mean for the student’s age in
expressive and/or receptive language skills on TWO of the recommended tests;

AND

B. The severity of the disorder cannot be accounted for by hearing impairment, social
emotional factors, low intellectual functioning or cultural factors;

AND

C. A history and evidence of an on-going problem with the expectation of continuation
during school years;

AND

D. A non-verbal score not lower than one standard deviation below the mean on one
comprehensive intellectual test, with a statistically significant (p<0.05) difference
between verbal (VIQ/VCI) and non-verbal (PIQ/PRI) functioning (VIQ/VCI<PIQ/PRI);

AND

E. Demonstrated critical educational needs equating to Program for Students with
Disabilities funding levels three and above as determined by the validated results of
the Educational Needs Questionnaire.

Making a Referral

How can I make a referral?
Commencing January 2015 Assessments Australia will be accepting referrals for students identified as potentially having an ID or SLD-CEN. For more information on this process, proceed to the Make a referral page.

 

When should I make a referral?
Referrals should be submitted as early as possible to ensure that assessments are completed in a timely manner. Application deadlines for PSD submissions to DET are released periodically by DET via circulars. In line with these dates, Assessments Australia sets timeframes within which a referral must be made in order for us to guarantee that we will provide the completed assessment report to you in time for a submission to the Resources Coordination Group prior to the cut-off date. Please note that we will continue to accept referrals past this date, and they will be addressed as quickly as possible, but we will be unable to guarantee that they will be completed prior to the PSD funding close date.

Please refer to our Key Dates page for an overview of DET’s round dates and the associated referral timeframes.

 

What is the procedure for referring new arrivals and refugees?
As it is recognised that new arrival and refugee students require time to acclimatise to a new country and educational setting, it is generally recommended that cognitive assessments are not conducted within the first 2 years after arrival where there is not a clear history of disability. This will allow the student to be provided with appropriate educational support prior to formal cognitive assessment.

For assistance with determining the appropriate time to make a referral for a student from a refugee background, please contact your Regional Disability Coordinator.

 

What information will I need before making a referral?
When making a referral for the first time we will ask you some questions to ascertain whether or not the PSD-AS is the appropriate service to conduct the assessment. We may ask you questions about:

  • If the referral has been discussed with the parent
  • Dates of any previous assessments
  • Whether any screening assessments have been conducted
  • Repetition of grades
  • School based interventions that have been implemented
  • Any diagnoses
  • Your general concerns about the student (eg. Language, self-care, motor skills and social skills)
  • Whether you have discussed the referral with a SSSO.

The information provided at this stage requires a general familiarity with the issues facing the student. At any time, feel free to call our team on 03 9663 6622 to seek clarification on what information may need to be gathered. We are here to help.

Assessments for currently funded or recently assessed students

Does Assessments Australia perform assessments for reappraisals?
No. Assessments Australia is contracted to manage and administer the assessments required for eligibility for new PSD applications, Year 6-7 reviews and Change of Category applications to ID or SLD-CEN only.

 

Does Assessments Australia perform assessments for currently funded students who are transitioning into Special Schools?
Yes, Assessments Australia are contracted to provide assessments for students who require a change of category to ID or SLD-CEN in order to gain entry to a Special School.

 

The student I wish to apply for has been assessed recently. Does he/she need to be assessed again by Assessments Australia?
If a student has recently completed assessments, and you are unsure if further assessment is required to support a new PSD application, it is strongly recommended that you contact Assessments Australia.

If a student has completed a cognitive assessment within the past two years, the results and psychological report may sufficiently fulfil the cognitive assessment component of the PSD application. For Intellectual Disability, we can provide an assessment of adaptive functioning using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales II if a current (within 12 months) assessment is required to support an application.

For Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs we can provide a second language assessment where a current (within 12 months) assessment using the DET recommended tools has already be conducted.

Parental Consent

Is parental consent required?
When you first call us to discuss a possible referral, we will ask you if you have spoken with the student’s parent or legal guardian prior to calling us. If this has not occurred, we will not be able to proceed with an individual student referral at that time.

In order for an assessment to proceed, the student’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign a consent form that we will send you as part of the Referral Pack.

 

What happens if parental consent is not granted for the assessment?
Assessments Australia is not able to assess a student unless written consent to do so is obtained from the student’s parent, guardian or legal caregiver. If the parental consent form is not received, the referral cannot proceed.

Completing the Vineland

How do I fill out the Vineland correctly?
It is important that the person filling in the Vineland II – Teacher Report Form has had frequent contact with the student and has known the student for at least two months. If this is not the case with the student’s current teacher then it would be best administered by another teacher who does know the student well. If there is not a teacher at the school who knows the student well enough to complete the Vineland, contact Assessments Australia for advice on how best to proceed.

It is important to remember that when rating each of the behaviours in the Vineland teachers should do so in a context of no support. That is to say, the behaviours are rated according to what the student does independently and on their own initiative. Again, if in doubt, contact Assessments Australia for guidance.

 

What does the “if Est.” box on the Vineland form mean?
This box means “estimated”. Teachers should tick this box if they are estimating or making a guess as to the student’s ability to perform the behaviour in question.
If too many items are “estimated” the Vineland assessment may not be valid and may need to be readministered. Assessments Australia will make decisions about such validity and will provide advice to schools if required.

This information sheet is included with every Vineland sent by Assessments Australia to assist with completing the VABS.

Post Assessment

Will I receive any reports following the assessments?
Yes. A report will be written by the assessor following the assessment. A comprehensive narrative report will be provided for all students which will outline the assessment outcomes and provide suggestions for how best to support the student’s identified needs.

Where it is recommended that a student is eligible to apply for PSD funding, a report will be provided in the format recommended for application submission to the PSD.

 

How will I know if a PSD application is successful?
Decisions regarding eligibility for the PSD are determined by the DET Resources Coordination Group and communicated with schools. Assessments Australia assists in gathering supporting information; however we are not responsible for the final outcome of applications.

Other Services

Does Assessments Australia perform assessment services for other disability categories, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or Severe Behaviour Disorder?
Assessments Australia is contracted by DET (commencing January 2015) to perform the assessment services required for ID and SLD-CEN only. This does not include assessments required to support Autism Spectrum Disorder or Severe Behaviour Disorder applications.

If your school or network would like to discuss the assessment needs that you have outside of those provided through the PSD-AS, please contact us on 03 9654 0204 or [email protected].

 

Do you provide locum services, such as speech therapy or psychological counselling?
No. Assessments Australia is focused on providing high quality independent assessment services for ID and SLD-CEN PSD applications. Locum services should be sought through external providers.