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New Canaan Kids Not Stressed by State Tests

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Riley Seelert is the picture of calm this week, even if some of her New Canaan classmates are not.

Riley, 9, and her classmates at South Elementary School are taking their Connecticut Mastery Tests, the all-important state exams that measure student achievement for the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The tests cover mathematics, reading comprehension, writing and science and are taken statewide in March by students in grades 3 through 8.

“One or two might get really nervous about the test. They do talk about not doing good or passing or getting the right percentage,” said Riley, who is heading to Saxe Middle School next year.

But for her part, Riley is handling the exam week well. “I think I’m doing pretty good,” she said, happily noting that most of her classmates are pleased about getting to chew gum while taking their tests.

Riley’s mother, Kristin Seelert, said she tries not to put pressure on her daughter because she already wants to score high herself and Riley is pretty confident. “I don’t stress her out about it. My job is to make sure she gets a good night sleep and gets to school ready,” Kristin Seelert said. “I’m happy she cares about the test, but I’m not stressed about it at all.

“She seems to be unstressed and lighthearted, but she takes it seriously. You can’t ask for more than that,” Kristin said.

Malia Frame feels the same way. Her two daughters, Taylor, 10, and Sadie, 8, are also taking their CMT exams this week and so far, it’s good. South School, she said, does a good job of letting kids and their parents know what to expect on test days. “I haven’t felt stressed about it. I’m trying to make sure they eat well and get a good night’s sleep,” Malia Frame said.

Taylor Frame, a fourth-grader at South, said her teachers have done a good job preparing her and her classmates so the testing was not so tough. “We’re all kind of nervous because it is a big test, but there’s nothing to be worried about,” Taylor said. “We’ve already learned this stuff. They’re just asking you to write it down again.”

Sadie, 8, didn’t feel stressed because her big sister had given her some advice on what was coming. So far, Sadie has enjoyed the writing tests. "I’m a pretty good writer. I like to write fantasy stories."

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