Academic achievement assessments assess specific academic skills and compare performance against what is the expected (normed) achievement for the age/ grade of the individual. Academic achievement assessments focus on broad reading, writing, math, and oral language skills.
Academic testing occurs over 1-2 hours. If an individual is currently finding school and academic tasks difficult, we recommend 1 hour sessions over 2 separate days. Assessment tools used to assess academic skills include the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test –Third Edition (WIAT-III) and selected subtests from other assessment tools, dependant on the referral concerns.
The following areas of each academic skill is measured:
Reading: comprehension, reading fluency, site word recognition, and decoding.
Math: fluency, computations and mathematical reasoning.
Writing: fluency, spelling, writing and general ability to express thoughts through writing.
Oral Language: receptive and expressive language abilities.
Typically an individual's cognitive ability scores will be similar to their academic achievement scores. When a child has a significant discrepancy between their cognitive and achievement scores, is putting in a substantial effort to maintain their achievement at school or has experienced ongoing difficulties with learning at school despite considerable support, further assessment may be beneficial to explore if a Specific Learning Disorder is impacting.
Types of Specific Learning Disorders:
Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) are not intellectual impairments. Children with a Specific Learning Disorder may have significant difficulty in one or more academic areas, whilst they may be achieving well or even excelling in other areas of academic achievement. Types of SLD include:
Specific Learning Disorder in Mathematics (Dyscalculia): Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder used to describe difficulties learning number related concepts or using the symbols and functions to perform math calculations. Problems with math can include difficulties with number sense, memorizing math facts, math calculations, math reasoning and math problem solving .
Specific Learning Disorder in Reading (Dyslexia): Dyslexia is a specific learning disorder that refers to difficulty with reading. Individuals with dyslexia have difficulty connecting letters they see on a page with the sounds they make. As a result, reading becomes a slow, effortful and not a fluent process for them. People with dyslexia may have difficulty with reading accuracy, reading comprehension and spelling as well.
Specific Learning in Written Expression (Dysgraphia): Dysgraphia is a specific learning disorder used to describe difficulties with putting one’s thoughts on to paper. Problems with writing can include difficulties with spelling, grammar, punctuation, and handwriting.
Further information can be found on the SPELD Victoria website: http://auspeld.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Old-DSF9214_SLD-Flow-Chart_4P-Flyer-V3_WEB_View.pdf
Assessment for a Specific Learning Disorder involves:
It is important to note that a Specific Learning Disorder will be diagnosed in line with the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 5th Edition (DSM-5). Prior to a diagnosis it is important that the child has received a minimum of six months’ evidence-based intervention targeted at his/her area of weakness. Further information on evidence-based interventions is available at: