Pass mark for this year’s phonics test revealed

Phonics test showing distribution of scores

It’s 32 out of 40 for the fifth year running, DfE announces

The pass mark for the phonics check will be 32 out of 40, for the fifth year running, the government announced today.

The phonics check is taken by five- and six-year-olds at the end of Year 1. The test involves the pupil reading 40 words aloud to their teacher. Half of the words on the test are real words and half are non-words, such as “strom”.

This year, it was taken by more than 600,000 pupils during the week beginning June 13.

The phonics test was introduced in 2012, when 58 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard.

But in both 2012 and 2013, teachers were told the threshold mark was 32 before the test was taken – and results rose sharply at the cut-off point, prompting the government to reveal the pass mark only after the test has been taken from then on.

The move has resulted in a smoother rise in the distribution of scores, as government statistics revealed (see graph below).

In 2013, 69 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard. In 2014, 74 per cent did so and in 2015, the pass rate rose to 77 per cent.

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