Five-year-olds face compulsory literacy tests in schools in Victoria state next year. More than 40,000 of them will be examined in reading and writing in their first month at school.
A dozen or so primary schools are already trialling the tests which are supposed to help teachers identify children in need of special assistance.
The Victoria state education minister, Phil Gude, said the government would spend 400,000 dollars (Pounds 200,000) on developing the tests. He said this was part of the government's promise to ensure 100 per cent literacy among all eight-year-olds by the end of 2005.
All pupils aged eight to 10 take national literacy and numeracy tests each year.