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State begins testing phonics of kindergartners

Starting this week, Wisconsin's public school kindergarteners will be tested on how well they know letters, words, and phonics.

The purpose is to identify potential reading problems earlier, so they can be addressed before students get too far behind. In a statewide assessment, teachers will give kindergarteners oral directions in identifying phonics - and they'll respond both verbally and in writing.

In Racine, kindergarten teachers say they'll use the results to work on skills with individual students - and with groups of youngsters who need the same type of help.

A year ago, a new type of reading-and-math test was given to kindergarteners, with the goal of providing earlier help to youngsters who need it. The state assessment will replace the reading test, while Racine officials will continue the math testing this year.