Abilities Based Learning and Education Support

Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) is an assessment and reporting suite that allows teachers to identify and monitor the learning readiness and progress of students with disability and diverse learners.


  • provides tools, guidance and evidence-based teaching and learning strategies to help teach students based on their individual learning needs, linked to the curriculum
  • generates reports for individualised learning planning
  • tracks students' progress and achievements over time.

ABLES is aligned to the Victorian Curriculum F – 10, with a focus on the Towards Foundation Victorian Curriculum (Levels A – D). Students with disability and diverse learners can engage with the curriculum provided reasonable adjustments are made. Towards Foundation Levels A – D are designed to support these students in moving toward the learning described at the Foundation Level of the curriculum.

ABLES supports teachers to:

  • identify a student’s strengths and interests as a starting point for learning, based on everyday observations in the classroom and school
  • develop appropriate learning goals in a student’s Individual Education Plan in collaboration with their Student Support Group  
  • implement appropriate and effective teaching and learning strategies that are responsive to the student’s needs 
  • make informed and consistent judgements to support further learning 
  • monitor progress to review the impact of the Individual Education Plan
  • better support each student through the learning cycle (pedagogical model).

Access ABLES 


  • Government schools can access ABLES via the Insight assessment platform.
  • Catholic schools can access ABLES via Ruby and find information about ABLES on the CEVN intranet  (under Student Support / Adjustments & Supports / ABLES). 
  • Independent schools can access ABLES on an individual basis via an agreement with the University of Melbourne. For more information, contact: swans-ables-help@unimelb.edu.au.

Other states and territories 

Some sectors outside of Victoria provide schools with access to ABLES. Schools covered by an agreement should contact the relevant team in their sector for information about access and support. Schools not covered by sector arrangements can access ABLES on an individual basis via an agreement with the University of Melbourne. For more information, contact: swans-ables-help@unimelb.edu.au 

ABLES assessments

ABLES assessments help teachers to observe students with disability and diverse learners with purpose and accuracy, and to use those observations to make well-informed decisions about how to help them progress with their learning.

Teachers complete the assessments online as observational surveys, answering a series of questions about a student's most typical behaviour across a range of skills and abilities.

The questions help draw attention to the sorts of things students do, say, make, draw or write to demonstrate their understanding.

Each question provides between 2 and 4 possible responses, with those that are easiest to demonstrate at the top of the list to those that are most difficult at the bottom. Teachers choose the response that is the closest match to the student's skills or behaviour.

Team-based planning

ABLES assessments can be completed effectively by individual teachers, but their optimal use is team-based with teachers, the Student Support Group and other professionals who know the student well, moderating their observations to:

  • increase accuracy and ensure consistency of the assessments
  • use that information to provide the best possible learning programs for each student. 

ABLES reports can be used by teachers as part of evidence gathering to support student reporting, but they cannot be used as an alternative report. Schools must follow the reporting obligations set out in the Reporting Student Achievement and Progress Foundation to 10  policy. The policy includes information on Reporting to parents and carers – students with a disability and/or additional needs.

When to complete ABLES assessments 

The ABLES assessments are designed to be completed twice a year and are available in 2 rounds:

Round 1: January to June (first semester)

Round 2: July to December (second semester)

Students are not required to sit any tests or participate directly in the ABLES assessment process.

The assessments

There are 9 ABLES assessments to identify a student’s readiness to learn across core learning areas and capabilities linked to the curriculum.

English – Reading and Writing

Covers the development of the use and interpretation of symbolic forms of representation leading towards early reading and writing. 

It includes the understanding of:

  • objects
  • photographs
  • pictures
  • symbols
  • letters
  • words.

English – Speaking and listening  

Covers the development of functional communication skills leading towards recognition and use of the social conventions of communication.

It includes:

  • natural gestures
  • facial expressions
  • signing
  • picture symbols
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices (text-to-speech software, eye control communication systems, communication boards)
  • vocal expressions.

Health and Physical Education – Movement and Physical Activity 

Covers development of the ability to achieve personal goals through the strategic use of body movement capabilities, enhancing agency, participation and independence.  


Covers the development of skills needed to notice, describe, understand and use numeracy information to make sense of everyday experiences, including information about numbers and their operations, shapes and patterns.

Digital Technologies

Covers the ability to interpret and use the language, symbols and tools of digital technologies in a culturally appropriate manner. 

Critical and Creative Thinking

Covers the development of strategies to actively participate in learning by using:

  • trial and error
  • evaluating outcomes
  • categorising
  • initiating activities
  • making choices. 

Personal and Social Capability – Social

Describes a student’s capacity to learn from and with others in the school and classroom context. 

Emphasis is placed on skills related to social interaction, social responsibility and the ability to managed social issues.

Personal and Social Capability – Self

Includes the development of basic skills related to attention, memory and organisation that contribute to individual learning. 

For students with autistic characteristics that impact their learning, teachers can use the Personal and Social Capability – Self: ASD assessment. This can be used for students without a formal diagnosis.

Personal and Social Capability – Emotional

Described the development of a student’s understanding of the experience and expression of emotions in both self and others.

ABLES reports

ABLES assessments provide 4 reports of a student’s strengths and abilities. These are linked to the curriculum and can help teachers make decisions about a personalised or adjusted learning program for each student.

Outcomes are reported as a learning progression in terms of the skills a student has demonstrated rather than a score they have gained. 

This helps teachers to understand what the student already knows, which skills may need consolidation and what the student is ready to learn next. 

Learning Readiness Report 

Summarises the skills and abilities the student is currently developing and those they might be expected to learn next.  It helps teachers to reflect on progress towards the learning goals in the student’s Individual Education Plan and to set an appropriate focus for future learning.

Profile Report

Maps a student’s learning readiness across multiple learning and capability areas. It indicates a student’s level of learning and progress for completed ABLES assessments. The Profile Report helps teachers to identify a student’s individual pattern of learning readiness, including the learning areas in which they have a higher proficiency and areas where they may need additional support.

Class Report 

Maps the learning progress of students in a class across 2 consecutive rounds for a particular ABLES assessment on a single report.  

The Class Report can be used to:

  • see a snapshot of the classes’ learning over time
  • reflect on ability groupings
  • reflect on why some students have not progressed as much as their peers.

School Report

Shows learning progress for a particular ABLES assessment at 2 points in time, 2 years apart, for all the students in a school on one report

The School Report can be used to guide reflections and discussions about each student’s individual learning progress as at whole-school level.

Professional learning

ABLES professional learning builds the knowledge and skills of teachers and other school professionals by supporting them to: 

  • understand the purpose of ABLES

  • implement ABLES in the classroom and school

  • utilise ABLES reporting in their teaching and learning practices.

There are 3 self-paced modules, each requiring approximately 30 to 40 minutes to complete.

Module 1: Overview and how to use the ABLES assessments

Module 2: ABLES reports

Module 3: Implementing ABLES in the classroom

To access the modules please visit Abilities Based Learning and Education Support professional learning.

The research behind ABLES

The Students with Additional Needs (SWANs) assessment and reporting materials were developed by the University of Melbourne with the support of the Australian Research Council as part of a Linkage partnership with the Centre for Advanced Assessment and Therapy Services and the university's foundation research partner, the (then) Victorian Department of Education and Training. 

The Victorian Department of Education is the development sponsor and owner of all rights in the ABLES Tools. The ABLES Tools were derived from the SWANs assessment and reporting materials which are owned by the University of Melbourne. 

More information

If you need more information about the ABLES resources or materials, email ables@education.vic.gov.au.

For government schools needing technical support to accessing ABLES on the Insight Assessment Platform, visit Insight platform support.