There are many reasons why parents may request an assessment at DSF. 

Some parents may have questions about whether their child's level and rate of academic progress is comparable to their peers, or may be concerned with their child's overall progress. Other parents might be seeking assessment to determine whether their child has a specific learning disorder that is affecting academic progress.

The pathway towards assessment differs somewhat depending on its purpose. An assessment that has been requested to determine if a child has a specific learning disorder may look slightly different to an assessment seeking to gather information about individual learning strengths and weaknesses, and help plan possible avenues of support.

There is no set time as to when an assessment should happen. For most students, the earlier an assessment occurs, the better. This will allow for more targeted and individualised support to be put in place as soon as possible. Children in the early years of school would benefit from an assessment of their developing skills to highlight any areas of potential weakness and older students are likely to benefit from an assessment of their current academic functioning to allow for better supports and accommodations to be utilised at school and at home.

The exception to this is when an assessment is being requested specifically for the purposes of making a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder. Under current diagnostic guidelines, it is essential for a student who is suspected of having a learning disorder to have received a period of intervention prior to undergoing the diagnosis process. This allows for an evaluation of how well they have responded to intervention and whether the nature of their learning difficulties is enduring and persistent.  

To assist parents with making a decision about what to do when they have concerns about the progress of their child, the following decision making chart has been produced by DSF and AUSPELD (reproduced with permission from

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