Diagnostic Assessment Tools in English

Foundation to Grade 2 students can have their literacy skills assessed throughout the school year.

The Diagnostic Assessment Tools in English (DATE) is a collection of tools that assess English learning in students in Foundation (Prep) to Level 4. The assessment is designed to be conducted one-on-one between a teacher and student and can be used at any time throughout the school year.

The assessment enables teachers to: 

  • gain information about students’ learning strengths and challenges in English
  • monitor student progress in one or more modes of English throughout students’ early literacy development
  • plan for, and monitor the impact of, teaching and literacy interventions throughout the year.

It assesses skills from Foundation to Victorian Curriculum Level 4 and can be used with students in later years of primary schooling where appropriate.

Additional phonics items called the ‘Phonics Word Item Assessment’ have been added to the DATE for use from 2023 to complement the enhanced English Online Interview (EOI) which also has additional phonics items to support teachers’ understanding of their students’ phonics knowledge and skills. The new phonics items in the DATE provide valuable insights for teachers around how students are progressing with using phonics knowledge and skills, specifically to decode words. This provides additional support for teachers to identify students who need help in the decoding aspect of reading and enable teachers to respond early before reading problems become entrenched. It also assists teachers to differentiate teaching according to student need.

The enhanced DATE and EOI are the 2 assessment tools in the F-2 Enhanced Early Years Literacy Assessment Suite initiative which involves an increased focus on phonics. For more information about this initiative visit Enhanced EOI and implementation supports.

The DATE is on the Insight Assessment Platform.

DATE access

The DATE and related documentation can be accessed by Victorian government school staff via the Insight Assessment Platform.

DATE tools and modes for assessment

Two types of assessment tools are available within the DATE for students working towards Victorian Curriculum Levels Foundation (Prep) to Level 4 as follows:

  • Early literacy in English tools
  • Monitoring progress tools.

The tools use videos and online texts to assess 3 modes of Victorian Curriculum English: Reading and Viewing, Writing, and Speaking and Listening. They are particularly useful for students who are working outside the typical range of ability for their age.

The tools may be used as standalone assessment, or to complement the EOI as a further assessment to understand the abilities of an individual student.

The new Phonics Word Item Assessment complements existing assessment items already in the DATE and helps to identify students' progress in developing literacy skills.

This new part of the assessment is organised into 4 phonics knowledge skill lists, with 2 choices of word lists provided for each skill (i.e. 8 assessment word lists in total). The word lists are sequenced and start with beginning phonics skills and move to more complex knowledge and skills, as follows:

  • vowel, consonant (VC) and consonant, vowel, consonant (CVC) words (where ‘V’ refers to vowel and ‘C’ refers to consonant)
  • consonant digraphs and one syllable words
  • split/vowel digraphs and longer one syllable words
  • multisyllabic and more complex words including trigraphs.

Students can be reassessed at any time to check or monitor progress. When reassessing the same phonics knowledge skill set it is recommended to choose a different list of words, if possible, so that the student is being assessed using unseen or new words.

Administration guides are included on the Insight Assessment Platform to assist users to select tools to meet the needs of students on an individual student basis.

Completing all of the tasks within one of the DATE tools will provide an indicative Victorian Curriculum F-10 level. However, teachers can select to use part of an assessment tool to support assessment of specific skills within Reading and Viewing, Writing, and Speaking and Listening. By choosing this option, teachers will obtain assessment information to inform their teaching, but will not obtain an indicative Victorian Curriculum F-10 level.

Early literacy in English tools

The Early Literacy in English tools are skill specific and assess the emergent literacy skills that develop Reading and Viewing, Writing, and Speaking and Listening capabilities. The Early Literacy in English tools include 10 assessments covering:

  • alphabet letters
  • comprehending text
  • concepts of print
  • phonemes
  • listening and recall
  • oral language
  • phonological awareness
  • phonics
  • reading
  • writing.

All of these tools are administered one-on-one, and take between 2-10 minutes to complete. An administration guide and several supporting texts are provided for each tool in the Insight Assessment Platform. These provide all the information required to select, administer, and mark the tool as well as follow up advice.

These tools are designed for students progressing towards Victorian Curriculum Foundation level, but they are divided into 3 levels: Beginning (well below Foundation), Progressing (towards Foundation) and progressing towards Victorian Curriculum Level 1.

Each of the tools include one or more tasks at each level. The tools are outlined in the following documents:

Assessment tasks in the Early Literacy in English tools are targeted towards specific skills and therefore provide particular information towards an indicative Victorian Curriculum F-10 level.

Monitoring Progress tools

The Monitoring Progress tools can be used to monitor student progress and identify areas requiring specific teaching for students working between Victorian Curriculum Levels Foundation - 4 in Reading and Viewing, Writing, and Speaking and Listening.

Reading and viewing

There are 4 Reading and Viewing assessment tools designed for specific Victorian Curriculum F-10 Levels. Each level of the reading tool has the following scope:

  • 5 texts of a range of difficulty within the Victorian Curriculum Level
  • a range of text types, including imaginative, information and argument
  • a range of reading skills including retrieving information, linking information; global understanding, making inferences and reflecting on the text
  • questions of a range of difficulty, generally within the Victorian Curriculum Level
  • questions that address key issues about each text
  • questions that address relevant aspects of the Victorian Curriculum Standard for the Level.

In addition, Phonics Word Item Assessment Lists E and F: Split/vowel digraphs and longer one syllable words (Victorian Curriculum Level 2) and Lists G and H: Multisyllabic and more complex words including trigraphs (Victorian Curriculum Level 2/3) located in the Early Literacy in English tools may also be used.


These tools focus on students’ ability to produce first-drafts of complete pieces of writing for a variety of purposes and to demonstrate appropriate planning and editing skills in narrative writing, information reports and persuasive writing. Lists of words of increasing complexity and a range of spelling patterns are also included to provide information about students’ spelling skills and strategies.

There are 9 writing assessment tools to select from. Each tool includes some stimulus material and a writing task with written and verbal instructions.

Speaking and listening

These tools focus on comprehensive understanding of the spoken word, and cover oral language retell, comprehension retell and oral language conversation.

There are 5 speaking and listening tools to select from. The tools are administered as digital texts where the student is a virtual participant, either as the audience or as an observer of a discussion.

Each assessment can be completed by an individual, small group or a class, and takes between 10 - 60 minutes to administer. Each tool is matched to 3 levels: Victorian Curriculum Level 2, Victorian Curriculum Level 3, and Victorian Curriculum Level 4 with some overlap across the levels.

DATE technical support

Technical assistance is available for schools via the services portal.

When lodging a services request, provide as much information about the issue as possible including name, school and campus number. Screenshots displaying error messages should also be provided where possible.

For general, non-technical enquiries, including in relation to DATE use to support literacy teaching and learning, email studentlearning@education.vic.gov.au

Visit the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s FAQs for information on administering and using the Insight Assessment Platform.

DATE resources

The tip sheet provided below provides information on how to access records of assessment on the Insight Assessment Platform:

DATE and the EOI

DATE and the EOI are the 2 early years literacy assessment tools provided on the Insight Assessment Platform to assess literacy learning for most students in Foundation (Prep) to Grade 2. The DATE may be used as a standalone assessment or as a next step following use of the EOI. One of the reports generated by the EOI is called the ‘EOI to DATE Report’ which provides a suggested level of DATE tool to use for further assessment, based on the EOI results. For more information about this report refer to the EOI guide on English Online Interview.

For students with disabilities it may be more appropriate to use the Abilities Based Learning and Education Support (ABLES) which includes literacy assessment components. For more information on how to support students with disabilities and/or diverse learning needs please see the Diverse Learners Hub.