Every Foundation and Grade 1 student in Victorian government schools has their literacy knowledge (including phonics) assessed at the start of each year through the enhanced EOI. The requirement for Grade 1 students has been in place since 2023, and the requirement to use the EOI with Foundation students has been in place since 2010.
The additional phonics items in the enhanced EOI complement the existing items on phonological awareness and phonics and provide valuable insights for teachers around how students are progressing with using phonics knowledge and skills, specifically to read words. This supplements the existing items in the EOI that assess students’ phonics and phonological awareness skills, including letter and sound knowledge and rhyming words. It provides additional support for teachers to identify students who need help in the decoding aspect of reading and enables teachers to respond early before reading problems become entrenched. It also assists teachers to differentiate teaching according to student need.
To complement the enhanced EOI, additional phonics items have also been added to the Diagnostic Assessment Tools in English (DATE). Use of the DATE is optional and provides further data on student ability to assist teachers to differentiate teaching according to student need.
Implementation supports and resources for the EOI and DATE enhancements are being provided as part of the $11.3 million F-2 Enhanced Early Years Literacy Assessment Suite initiative. The initiative includes professional learning, phonics and phonological awareness updates to the Literacy Teaching Toolkit, and casual relief teacher funding support in 2023 and 2024. Further details are provided below.
Assessing Grade 1 students
Introduced in 2023, the EOI assessment period for Grade 1 students in Victorian government schools takes place in Term 1 each year at the same time as the EOI assessment period for Foundation students to ensure maximum benefit for teacher planning purposes. Module 2 has been developed to be conducted at this time and maps to the beginning of the Grade 1 Victorian Curriculum. Please note that, while Module 2 is generally recommended for the start of Grade 1, teachers have the flexibility to choose the most appropriate module for individual students.
As with Module 1 for Foundation students, Module 2 is designed to be used by classroom teachers as an individual assessment with each Grade 1 student, supported by an EOI kit and the relevant resources for the module.
Assessing phonics knowledge and skills and the use of non-words
In 2023, additional phonics items were added to each of the 4 EOI modules to complement the existing phonics items in the tool. Schools are required to complete all items in the selected EOI module, not just the additional phonics items.
Reading and Viewing, Writing, Speaking and Listening are closely connected and interdependent aspects of literacy. The enhanced EOI is designed to assess student ability across all areas of literacy, including phonics. As such, it is not possible to only complete the additional phonics items. All tasks in an EOI module must be completed and then submitted for the Insight Assessment Platform to generate instant reports and data to inform teaching and learning. In order to generate this data, teachers must click on the ‘submit’ button after completing the EOI with each student.
The additional phonics items in the enhanced EOI include a mix of real English words and non-words to assess whether students are using phonics knowledge and skills to 'read' the word. As non-words are not real English words, students need to use their phonic knowledge and skills to 'sound out' or decode the word. Assessing students’ reading of non-words allows teachers to check which combinations of letter-sounds in English students have learned, to inform their teaching practice. Teaching phonics involves explicit teaching of letter-sound patterns until they are recognised automatically by students.
The real English words and non-words are intentionally ordered following psychometric testing. Please follow the script and instructions on the left pane of the EOI in the Insight Assessment Platform during the assessment. These instructions include a link to the phonics word list to be used with each module.
Guidance materials are available in the Learning Library within the Insight Assessment Platform to provide teachers with detailed advice on how to score the non-words and undertake error analysis to inform areas for explicit teaching.
Support for the Grade 1 EOI requirement
There are a range of implementation supports for the enhanced EOI and DATE tools as detailed below. These include professional learning, updates to the Literacy Teaching Toolkit, casual relief teacher funding and general guidance such as the EOI guide.
Virtual professional learning for Grade 1 teachers in Term 1, 2024
The department has engaged the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to deliver virtual professional learning for Grade 1 teachers on the practical use of EOI data to support student literacy learning in Term 1, 2024. This will involve 2, 1.5 hour sessions for Grade 1 teachers held approximately one week apart.
Registration information for this professional learning will be available on the ACER provider page of Arc Events towards the end of Term 4, 2023 to support school planning. Casual relief teacher funding for up to one day will be available for teachers who attend both sessions of the professional learning, paid via a reimbursement.
On demand videos to support understanding and use of EOI reports
New videos will be available in Term 1, 2024 to build knowledge of commonly used EOI reports and how to navigate to them in the Insight Assessment Platform. These videos will include school level reports to support school leadership to understand the EOI results for the student cohort. The videos also cover reports for teachers to plan for their class and/or individual students. Refer back to this page in Term 1, 2024 for more information on how to access the videos.
For more information on EOI reports see the new ‘Insight Assessment Platform Reporting Guide’.
Casual relief teacher (CRT) funding
To support the requirement to use the EOI with Grade 1 students, schools will receive the equivalent of 2 days of CRT funding per Grade 1 teacher in 2023 and 2024.
In line with the process in 2023, schools will receive this funding directly in January 2024 as part of the Student Resource Package rather than needing to apply for it. The CRT funding is based on the approach to professional practice days and is informed by student enrolments.
The funding line can be identified in the Student Resource Package quarterly cash grant as 'Literacy – Grade 1 EOI.'
Updates to Literacy Teaching Toolkit
The Literacy Teaching Toolkit (Toolkit) has been updated to provide teachers with additional detailed guidance on the teaching of phonics and phonological awareness. The updated Toolkit F-6 navigation map (pdf - 138.89kb) indicates where substantive new content has been added.
Providing feedback on the enhanced early years literacy assessment suite and implementation and supports
The department has commissioned an independent evaluation of the F-2 Enhanced Early Years Literacy Assessment Suite initiative following the first year of implementation of the enhanced EOI and DATE tools. This work is being informed by direct feedback from schools.
If you’re interested in providing feedback, please contact the Literacy Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org