Year 1 Phonics Screening Check 2022 update

This report was originally published 2 March 2023.


What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a 5 to 7 minute assessment administered by classroom teachers that indicates how their students are progressing in phonics. The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is designed to be administered towards the end of Year 1, after students have had time to develop sufficient phonic knowledge, but with enough time to make sure interventions and targeted teaching can still make a difference.

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check complements existing school practices used to identify students’ progress in developing foundational literacy skills.

A trial of the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check took place in Term 3, 2020. It demonstrated the value in providing diagnostic assessments that give schools rapid insight, offered highly targeted support in a short timeframe and reduced administrative complexity.

In 2021, the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was mandatory for all Year 1 public schools. In 2022 it was completed by more than 65,045 students with results immediately available for teachers. This cohort represents students who began Kindergarten during the COVID-19 pandemic and who have experienced over 30% of their schooling learning from home, with students consistently experiencing full in‑class learning for the first time in 2022.

Key findings from the 2022 Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

  • In light of the 2021 extended test window and the Year 1 2022 cohort’s COVID-19 learning from home experiences, results are considered to be stable in comparison to prior years.
  • The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was undertaken in 1,643 NSW Government schools with 65,045 Year 1 students participating and completing the assessment.
  • The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check consisted of 40 items. The average number of items correct was 26.
  • Students were considered to have met the expected achievement level if they correctly answered 28 or more items. In total, 55% of students achieved at or above this level (down from 57% in 2021). Note the caveat on page 1 about the 2021 and 2022 test windows.
  • The percentage of Aboriginal students that met or exceeded the expected achievement score increased from 29% in 2021 to 30% in 2022.
  • The proportion of students learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) who met or exceeded the expected score level ranged from 30% for students at the Beginning phase, to 58% for the Emerging phase, 78% for the Developing phase and 82% for the Consolidating phase.


Caution should be taken when comparing the 2022 results with the results of 2021. The 2021 assessment window was extended from 3 weeks (19 days) to 20 weeks (135 days) due to COVID-19, with students taking part between August and December of 2021. More than three-quarters of participating students (including more than 90% of students who lived in major cities) took part 12 weeks or more after the assessment window opened. The overall score in 2021 for students taking part may not be directly comparable to other calendar years and may be inflated.

In comparison, the assessment window for the 2022 Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was 4 weeks.


  • Literacy and numeracy
  • Primary
  • Research report

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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