Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a short assessment that tells teachers how students are progressing in phonics.

The Check takes 5-7 minutes and is carried out in the classroom by classroom teachers with each student individually. Results are available immediately. Teachers analyse the results and, if necessary, plan for any additional support that students might require by targeting teaching aligned with NSW English syllabus outcomes.

The Check complements existing strategies to identify students' progress in developing foundational literacy skills.

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check summary and infographic (PDF 456KB) (staff only).


What does the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check look like?

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check assesses how students blend sounds together to read a word.

Student responses are mapped to indicators from the National Literacy Learning Progression. Student information from the check is available in PLAN2 upon lodging the assessment.

How will my school be involved?

All Year 1 students in NSW department schools will be required to complete the mandatory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check from 2021. Schools complete the assessment mid Term 3.

The 2022 assessment window is 8 - 26 August (Term 3, Weeks 4 - 6)

Q&A information sessions will be held in the Literacy statewide staffroom. Join the Literacy NSW statewide staffroom for full details. (staff only).

Visit the resources webpage for support in administering the assessment. There are professional learning, resources and guides to help you.

The resource web page also included information on where to find support for teaching strategies in the classroom following the assessment.

An on-demand diagnostic assessment of phonics knowledge is available for all students in NSW department schools. See the Phonics diagnostic assessment web page for more information.

About the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

Narrator: The Phonics Screening Check is an opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know and can do when reading.

It can support teachers to plan for students learning by providing them with information to target their teaching.

The Phonics Screening Check is a short online assessment that individually assesses a student’s phonic knowledge and skills.

The Check assesses how students blend sounds together to read a word.

Simone Austin (Brewarrina Central School): I was quite surprised with some of the results in the assessment. I had some students who already knew all the individual sounds but in the assessment,  I found that they couldn’t blend them together.

In the Check I observed the way the students were articulating their sounds and quite often if students, if they weren’t sure of the sound, they might mumble it, which impacted the full reading of the word.

I also noticed a lot of students were able to self-correct on the word as I was not aware that they were doing in the classroom so that was really great in the Check for me to see that. And it was also good to see the students be able to break up the sounds and then put them back together.

I found the Check very easy to administer. It was a lot quicker than I imagined it to be and the students seemed  really at easy when  doing it.

The Check is really going to impact on my teaching as it has given me so insight into certain vowel diagraphs that a lot of my students didn’t know that I thought they had learnt from prior phonics lessons but unfortunately weren’t able to  blend them together during the assessment.

The information I gathered from the Check, I’m now going to take it into my classroom and see the gaps that I found in the Check with the students sounds whether those are the same gaps in their writing.

And some of the things I saw students were capable of, I can now build on those within my classroom.

More information

Key findings from the 2021 Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

For other professional learning about early literacy visit the Literacy and Numeracy professional learning web page.

To hear more about how phonics can support early reading acquisition, listen to 'In conversation with Anne Castle: Systematic and Explicit Phonics Instruction'. You can also watch Stephanie Lewis talk about where phonics sits in the NSW English syllabus, in the video below.

Stephanie Lewis talks about where phonics sits in the NSW English syllabus
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