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[Susan notes: The outrageous skills push onto younger and younger children is heartbreaking. Stephen Krashen offers a good explanation of why it is also wrongheaded.]

Submitted to Tampa Tribune but not published

To the editor

Florida's Kindergarten screening exam will now include "letter

recognition and phonemic word blend." ("State tweaking testing of VPK

students," August 27). This means that Florida expects these skills to

be taught in pre-kindergarten.

There is quite a bit of evidence that the ability to combine letters

into words ("phonemic word blend") is not a prerequisite for learning

to read, but is the result of reading experience: Studies show that

the ability to blend emerges on its own as children get better in

reading. Studies also show that training on blending and other aspects

of "phonemic awareness" only improves performance on tests of phonemic

awareness, not reading. In addition, millions of people have learned

to read without training in blending.

A better test is to see if children like storybooks.

Stephen Krashen

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