Should Year 1 students be made to take this test?

HOW young is too young for a test? How about Year 1?

The new style of testing is designed to test reading and numeracy skills in children who are six or seven years old.

The Federal Minister for Education Simon Birmingham said such a test was key to finding out whether a child was learning to read properly, or whether they required extra support.

Already school students undertake standardised NAPLAN tests in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9.

Senator Birmingham said it was not a test, but a "light touch assessment".

"(It) ensures teachers, parents and schools know at the earliest possible stage if children aren't picking up the reading skills as quickly as they should and that they can intervene rapidly," Senator Birmingham said.

In May, Senator Birmingham flagged that research showed that children who have a grasp of phonics - how letters correspond to sounds - are more likely to be better readers earlier.

That would be the focus of the Year 1 test, if it was rolled out.

Fairfax reported at the time that one in four children in Year 4 do not achieve international literacy benchmarks.

A similar test has been introduced in the UK in 2012, which recommended phonics instruction in all schools.

Senator Birmingham said in May that the assessment would not resemble an exam but would be a "personalised, gentle, individual" test.

Instead, teachers would "sit down and understand from those students their reading capacity, their understanding and awareness of phonetics, how they actually interpret letters and sounds and characters".

"It's really important you get that diagnosis undertaken at the earliest possible stage."