Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)
What is the Program for Students with Disabilities?
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) may be eligible for individualised support. The DET provide a comprehensive overview of the PSD here. For questions regarding the PSD process, contact your Regional Disability Coordinator.
What is Assessments Australia’s role within the PSD?
Assessments Australia (AA) is contracted by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to provide the state-wide assessment service for the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) in Victoria under the categories of:
- Intellectual Disability (ID)
- Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN), including Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
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.
Assessments for supporting an application to the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) under Severe Behaviour Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder are best referred to the school’s Student Support Services (SSS) team.
Can Assessment Australia assessors conduct PSD assessments for Severe Behaviour Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder?
No, Assessments Australia only conducts cognitive and speech and language assessments for the PSD categories of Intellectual Disability (ID) or Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN).
Assessments for the purpose of supporting an application to the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) under Severe Behaviour Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder are best referred to the Student Support Services (SSS) team.
Where does Assessments Australia provide the PSD service?
Assessments Australia (AA) is contracted by the Department of Education and Training (DET) to provide the assessment service for the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) across the state of Victoria.
Both mainstream and specialist Victorian Government schools are able to access PSD assessments with AA for the categories of Intellectual Disability (ID) or Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN).
A student’s paediatrician has recommended a cognitive assessment – can Assessments Australia do this assessment?
Assessments Australia can conduct a cognitive assessment only if the student is suspected of having an Intellectual Disability. If the paediatrician is recommending an assessment in order to gather further information about the student’s learning, this is best referred to the Student Support Services (SSS) psychologist or conducted privately.
We are a school in the country and currently without a SSS Psychologist – can Assessments Australia conduct our assessments?
Assessments Australia can conduct a cognitive assessment only if the student is suspected of having an Intellectual Disability. Please contact your Regional Disability Coordinator for further support in circumstances where you require a cognitive assessment for other purposes and do not have access to a Student Support Services (SSS) Psychologist.
How do I make a referral for a PSD assessment?
If you have a student who you feel is presenting with an Intellectual Disability or Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (including Childhood Apraxia of Speech), please contact us on 03 9663 6622.
Our staff will ask some questions to help determine if the student may meet the criteria for a Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) assessment, and send a referral pack electronically to you if deemed appropriate. If a Vineland is required, this will be posted to the school – please ensure you read the instructions thoroughly, and contact us if you are unsure of how to complete it.
Once you have received the referral pack please complete all required parts (including previous reports where applicable) and return them to us (scanning and emailing is preferable and more expedient than posting).
Do I need to get parent/guardian consent to make a PSD assessment referral?
Written consent from a parent/guardian is not needed to make the referral enquiry for the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD), however you must have spoken to the student’s parent/guardian and gained their verbal permission to pass on this information to us. Please ensure they are aware of the purpose of the referral.
Written consent is however required at the time of returning the information to us and this must be completed by the student’s legal guardian. The consent form is a legal document and if signed by someone other than a parent, documentation showing the guardianship of the signatory must be provided.
Can parents, early intervention services or kindergartens make PSD assessment referrals?
Referrals can only be made by school representatives. Parents can discuss the process with their school Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) contact.
If early intervention services or kindergartens believe a student might be eligible for the PSD under the categories of Intellectual Disability or Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs, then they need to contact the student’s school, and their PSD Contact will contact Assessment Australia.
What can schools expect after a PSD assessment referral has been made?
Assessments Australia can only process Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) referrals after all referral documentation has been received. This includes the Parent Consent Form, Parent Referral Form, Teacher Referral Form, and fully completed Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales (for Intellectual Disability (ID) referrals only), as well as any previous reports or supporting documentation.
The Vineland will then be scored for ID referrals, and the referral information reviewed to determine whether the referral progresses to assessment. Eligible referrals are allocated to an appropriate assessor, either Psychologist or Speech Pathologist.
Once accepted, you should hear from the assessor within the week. The appointment needs to be made within three weeks of receipt of all completed documentation.
Once the assessment has been completed, the assessor writes their report(s), which then goes through either a Qualitative Assurance or Peer Review process. Once this has been completed, reports are emailed to schools.
My PSD assessment referral was screened out. Why?
In some instances, Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) referrals may be screened out as being inappropriate, lacking in history, lacking in current information, or indications that presenting difficulties may be primarily due to trauma, EAL factors, behavioural issues or due to difficulties with literacy or specific learning deficits, rather than global deficits.
A Vineland score above the DET criteria or previous assessment results showing it is unlikely that the student will currently meet eligibility requirements may also result in a referral being screened out.
Referrals for Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs may also be screened out due to the lack of evidence to support the required high level of educational needs for individualised funding through the PSD, even if the student clinically presents with a Severe Language Disorder.
Students who have a language disorder, but do not qualify for the PSD are best supported by the school’s Language and Learning Disabilities Support Program.
The Language and Learning Disabilities Support Program allows schools to make decisions about the support requirements for students at the local level. Please refer to the DET guidelines on Students with Disabilities (available here) and the Language and Learning Disabilities Support Program (available here) for further details.
The screen out email will contain information as to the reason the referral was not progressed. We welcome phone contact to clarify if you require further detail.
How long after making the referral is the PSD assessment conducted?
Assessments are allocated to assessors as soon as ALL completed referral documents are received by Assessments Australia.
An assessor should be in touch to organise a mutually agreeable assessment time within a week of all completed documents being received.
Can parents sit in on Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) assessments?
Best practices, including assessment requirements, indicate that the student needs to be assessed with only the assessor present in the room.
Exceptions can be made in the cases of preschool students who are anxious and do not cope well with separating from their parent in a new situation.
My student comes from an English as an Additional Language (EAL) background – can they still be assessed for Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD)?
DET recognises that students with an EAL or different cultural background may still present with difficulties consistent with a likely Intellectual Disability (ID) or Severe Language Disorder with Critical Educational Needs (SLD-CEN), and a referral may still be made for assessment.
Please ensure you use the most up to date referral forms, which gathers information around these areas, and helps us make a decision about progressing to assessment or not.
If a student has not been exposed to English in a full time, educational type setting for a period of 2 years or if parents report the student’s stronger language is other than English, then a Level 3 interpreter must be used. Failure to do so will jeopardise the student’s application.
It is the referring school’s responsibility to organise the interpreter. This incurs no cost to the school when booked through VITS Language Loop. Further details may be found here.
Do Assessments Australia (AA) assessors provide feedback after PSD assessments?
It is requirement for all assessors to provide feedback after assessments with both school personnel and parents. The school Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD) contact should make themselves available immediately following the assessment for this feedback to occur, as well as organise for the parents to attend the school for face to face feedback following the assessment.
If parents are unable to attend a face to face feedback session, the AA assessor will make reasonable attempts to contact the parent by phone. There may be occasions when every attempt has been made to contact parents, but without success. Our dashboard records these attempts, and schools are welcome to contact us for further information.
Will a report be provided following the PSD assessment?
A report will be provided to the school for all students assessed. For students who do not meet the eligibility to apply to the Program for Students with Disabilities (PSD), the school will receive a narrative report only, which should be copied and disseminated to teachers and the student’s parents/guardians.
Students who meet the eligibility requirements to apply to the PSD will receive a narrative report and attachment report/s. In this case, the narrative report should be disseminated to parents/guardians and teachers, and the attachment report/s submitted with your application.