Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Research Findings For Effective College Writing Remediation

October 22nd, 2014

The Challenge of Writing Remediation: Can Composition Research Inform Higher Education Policy?
by Stefani R. Relles & William G. Tierney
This article presents a review of research relevant to postsecondary writing remediation. The purpose of the review is to assess empirical support for policy aimed at improving the degree completion rates of students who arrive at tertiary settings underprepared to write.

Source:Teachers College Record

 

More AP Courses Slated For Major Overhaul

October 21st, 2014

But will revamp in favor of teaching college critical thinking in high school fuel the Common Core controversy?

By , Hechinger Institute

This story also appeared at:

U.S. News & World Report

Despite the recent fallout over new guidelines for Advanced Placement U.S. History, the College Board is making similar changes to most science and history AP courses in an effort to emphasize critical thinking.

The College Board is in the process of retooling many of its 36 courses to more align with what it sees as meeting the needs of today’s rigorous college instruction. The new courses – from Art History to Physics — will cover fewer topics and aim to address charges that the old courses prized rote memorization over imaginative thinking.

NEW AP COURSES

For the first time new AP course descriptions will specifically outline broad concepts that teachers must impart to students. In the past these guides were essentially just lists of suggested topics.

Old Art History

A table determined how much time should be spent on three topics: Thirty percent on European art from the time of ancient Greece through the Gothic Era, 50 percent on Western art from the Renaissance through the present and 20 percent on art outside of the European tradition.

New Art History

Now a 150-page outline asks students to grapple with three big ideas: “Artists manipulate materials and ideas to create an aesthetic object, act or event,” “art making is shaped by tradition and change,” and “interpretations of art are variable.”

Old Biology

Presented students with a list of eight topics – which included “Evolution,” “Energy Transfer,” and “Science as a Process.” It included a list of 12 recommended experiments.

New Biology

Four big ideas replace the list, starting with, “Big Idea 1: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.” The new guide only suggests teachers do eight experiments.

New AP Biology guides went into effect two years ago and new frameworks for the program’s four physics courses started this fall. The new AP European History and AP Art History courses begin next year.

But critics are leery of a “shift” in the AP program that embraces Common Core Standards, a set of English and math standards adopted by more than 40 states. These standards were promoted by the Obama administration in response to the outcry over current state standardized tests that rely on memorizing facts. Some parents, school administrators and local elected officials worry that they will lose control over what is taught in their schools. Texas, home to the second highest number of AP exam takers in the country, has outright banned Common Core.

Related: Is the new AP U.S. History really anti-American?

Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars – a non-profit that seeks to counter a perceived liberal bias in academia – said he has not seen any of the other courses but was all-to-familiar with the new AP U.S. History curriculum. If they are similar, Wood said “they reflect a shift at the College Board … [the old] list of topics were sufficient and left high school teachers the flexibility to imagine a real course around these materials.”

It now seems the board doesn’t trust teachers to “balance abstract and critical thinking with teaching empirical content,” said Wood, who taught in the Anthropology Department at Boston University. “This has a lot to do with the standardization push … there is this thought that unless everyone is doing it the same way it isn’t any good.”

The prize for students at the end of an AP class is the chance to take an exam that, if they score high enough, could get them college credits or allow them to skip introductory courses at some colleges. Last year, before the Common Core controversy hit its current fever pitch, the College Board discussed the connection between Common Core and the AP revamp.

“We are really excited that the Common Core standards ask teachers to do a few things very well,” said Trevor Packer, College Board’s Senior Vice President in charge of AP and Instruction. “We have been making similar changes in AP through a parallel process – the redesign of AP science and history courses that do the same thing.”

Related: More teachers are souring on Common Core, finds one survey

The College Board, a non-profit company that also administers the SAT, has been revising the AP program since 2007. But the calls to revamp the program amplified in 2013 when professors at Dartmouth College conducted an experiment testing whether the courses were really college level.

Dartmouth’s Psychology Department gave more than 100 students who received a perfect five out of five score on the AP Psychology exam, a condensed version of the school’s final for its introductory psychology course – 90 percent failed.

The college didn’t stand by the experiment as a rigorous scientific study of whether AP courses were truly comparable to college courses, but the school no longer gives students credit for high scores on any of the AP exams.

AP science and history courses have seen the biggest changes, but Parker says that Common Core also directly affects how AP math and English courses are taught.

“Common Core will prove to be excellent preparation for AP English,” Parker said last year. But AP math will see bigger changes as schools implement the Common Core, he predicted.

Helpful SAT Prep Resources For Students

October 20th, 2014

By Jane Hurst

One of the biggest challenges in your life isn’t the SAT, but preparing for it. This can be so nerve wracking, and it isn’t something that will only take a few days. It will take many months to prepare for the most important test of your life, and you need to find ways to keep from becoming overwhelmed. The first thing you need to do is to study, obviously. You should also start taking practice tests. That way, you can find out what areas you are weak in, and work on them more so you can get the best possible score on your SAT.

As you continue studying, continue taking practice tests. The more tests you take, the more you will be prepared for the real thing when the time comes. Unfortunately, it can cost a lot of money to have private tutors, or take an SAT preparation course. Luckily, there are online resources you can use that have free and nearly-free practice tests online. Since there is little to no cost, you have nothing to lose, and no excuse not to be as prepared as you can possibly be. Here are the top websites that offer SAT practice tests:

  • ·         SAT Tutoring– When you use this website, you are going to receive one-on-one SAT tutoring that is completely customized to your exact study needs. Most SAT prep classes follow the same old curriculum, which is produced for average students, and does not align with the needs of individual students with particular strengths and weaknesses. This program customizes tutoring to your style of learning, and focuses on the areas you need the most help with. You won’t get this kind of personalized attention from many other SAT prep websites. Through one-on-one tutoring, you will master all of the skills and gain the confidence you need to ace the SAT.
  • PWN the SAT – This is a great site to use to help you improve your math SAT scores. New York math tutor Marc McClenathan created this site, and also wrote the accompanying book, “PWN the SAT: Math Guide”, which has received great reviews on Amazon. The creator wants students to be able to get the help they need, without paying a fortune for it.
  • The Critical Reader – You will find tons of useful information on this website from New York test-prep tutor Erica Meltzer. The information will help you improve your scores on the reading and writing parts of the SAT. Find free study guides, and for even more great advice, read her book, “The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar”.
  • College Board – This is the only website where you can take a practice test that is an official, full-length SAT exam, so you will know exactly what to expect when it comes time for the real thing. You will also get your scores immediately. You can sign up to get daily SAT questions, which you can find the answers to in the book, “College Board’s Official SAT Study Guide, 2nd Edition”, available on Amazon for $12.08.
  • Perfect Score Project – This site was created by the mother of two teenagers who took the SAT every time they could (seven times) in a single year. She offers all kinds of great tips for preparing for the SAT on the website, so you will have all of the tools you need to score high.
  • Erik the Red – Erik Jacobsen, math/physics tutor and PhD from Summit, NJ specializes in helping students to prepare for the SAT and ACT math sections. You will find loads of great free materials that you can download, such as formulas, strategies, and of course, test quizzes to help you prepare for the SAT and pass with flying colors.

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

Postsecondary Vocational Certificates Pay Off For Students

October 17th, 2014

STUDY

Is it Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged

Amber M. Northern, Ph.D. for the Fordham Foundation

This CALDER paper examines a range of postsecondary education outcomes for disadvantaged students—like enrolling and completing an associate or bachelor’s degree or gaining a vocational certificate—and respective salary data for these students during high school and for five years after their last educational institution. Analysts use Florida administrative data for two cohorts of students—over 210,000 in total—who graduated between 2000 and 2002, which enabled the researchers to observe between ten and twelve years of postsecondary and labor-market outcomes. They merge secondary school, postsecondary school, and earnings data, including courses taken in high schools, grades in those courses, overall GPA, and various college data, such as credits earned, major, and degree attainment. Controlling for demographics and prior achievement in high school, they unearth two findings: first, gaps in secondary school achievement likely account for a large portion of the differences in postsecondary attainment and labor-market outcomes between disadvantaged and other students; and second, earnings for disadvantaged kids are hampered by low completion rates in postsecondary programs, poor college performance, and their selection of low-earning fields. Yet they find that vocational certificates and associate degrees in health, transportation, construction, manufacturing, and security lead to relatively high pay for disadvantaged students and low-scoring high-schoolers. Specifically, those with vocational certificates earn 30 percent more than high school grads, and those with associate degrees pocket roughly 35–40 percent more. Analysts recommend, among other things, that public institutions do a better job partnering with industry associations and promoting high-potential career pathways—and that more high-quality apprenticeships be made available for the disadvantaged.
Benjamin Backes, Harry J. Holzer, and Erin Dunlop Velez, “Is It Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged,” CALDER (September 2014).

Tools To Make Webinars More Effective

October 16th, 2014

Online lectures and webinars are an extremely powerful tool for learning, effectively eliminating the problem of distances and allowing people from even the most remote locations to get the education they want. Moreover, this medium provides a lot more opportunities than plain text.

But it isn’t enough to simply listen to webinars and take screenshots from time to time. In order to reap all the benefits, one has to know the right tools – and it applies both to listeners and presenters.

In this article you will find some of them.

1.     Lecture Capture Tools

The major problem with webinars and online lectures is their fleeting nature – they provide an easy way to perceive new information and in some cases offer interactivity, so that you can ask your own questions. But once they end, they end. Some services even deliberately make it impossible to record their webinars in order to avoid their redistribution. Fortunately, you can use a http://icecreamapps.com/Screen-Recorder/– an application that allows you to capture screen or any of its areas as a video file to watch later at your discretion.

2.    Presentation Making Software

Webinars and lectures which show the face of the presenter for the majority of time can just as well do without video at all. In order to fully use the possibilities of this medium one has to support what he or she says with visual imagery – and nothing does it better than a good presentation.

Good news – you don’t have to possess any specific knowledge to prepare one. There are numerous easy-to-learn presentation-making tools like Prezi which can turn even the most boring topic into a fascinating one.

3.    Presentation Sharing Tools

Some presentation tools, like Slide Rocket, are specifically designed for work in groups – in addition to providing you with an efficient way of creating presentations, they allow you to easily share slides with other people and getting feedback from them.

4.    Webinar Creation

The times when in order to create a webinar you had to record screen of your computer while you clicked through some pre-made slides are long past. Today it is much easier to use a tool that will deal with all the little things, allowing you to concentrate on creative work. For example, Cisco WebEx provides conferencing in HD video with file and presentation sharing system – all for more than a reasonable price.

5.    Web Conferencing

Web conferences, like many other innovations, first became widespread in business circles, but after they proved their effectiveness they entered all possible spheres of human activity – including, of course, education. With their help you may meet with a group of people (from 2 to more than 10), share files, discuss topics and listen to each other.

Some web conferencing tools require monthly fees, others, like MeetingBurner, are free of charge (some others have free trials or free accounts with limited functionality). But whatever you choose, they allow you to meet people from any part of the planet face-to-face, listen to lectures and conduct them, ask and answer questions. Recent studies show that video conferencing study environment allows for even higher percentage of perceived information and student satisfaction than traditional approaches – so it is much more than simply a substitute for a classroom.

The nature of education in general is changing – recent breakthrough in telecommunication technology created possibilities that were hard to believe just 20 years ago. The new generation of teachers, at least those of them who are used to thinking outside the box, are willing to make these changes even more drastic. After all, why remain limited by the old ways which were established when there simply was nothing better.

Melissa is a student of journalism. She is passionate about digital technologies and tries to implement them in the sphere of education.

Experiences Of Black Males In Postsecondary Education

October 15th, 2014

Black Males in Postsecondary Education: Examining Their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts

Excerpt of review by Rachelle Winkle-Wagner — October 09, 2014 for Teachers College Record

coverTitle: Black Males in Postsecondary Education: Examining Their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts
Author(s): Adriel A. Hilton, J. Luke Wood, Chance W. Lewis
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1617359327, Pages: 242, Year: 2012
Search for book at Amazon.com

Black Males in Postsecondary Education focuses on the overarching question: How does institutional type, size, and scope influence Black men’s experiences and development in higher education? Each chapter of the book explores a different postsecondary institutional type and demonstrates how institutional cultures and environments can change the outcomes and experiences for Black men. In so doing, Hilton, Wood, and Lewis have compiled a unique, anti-reductionist approach to the study of Black male experiences in college that illustrates the many differences between and among Black men and their experiences. The emphasis on differences between Black men is in itself a triumph: it pushes past the deficit-focused approach (i.e., what is wrong with the students, their backgrounds, or their outcomes) often taken towards the study of students of color in higher education.

In the span of twelve chapters, the book considers Black male experiences across community college, for-profit colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, Ivy League institutions, historically Black colleges and universities, predominantly White institutions, religiously affiliated colleges and universities, not-for-profit colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions. The book draws from literature reviews, semi-structured interviews, large-scale surveys, longitudinal surveys, and focus groups. The diverse methodological approaches reveal multiple dimensions of experiences that Black men have in college—this is certainly one of the key attractions of the book. The authors bring together fresh ideas. An additional treat within this volume is that nearly every chapter ends with actionable recommendations for policy, research, or practice; the final chapter offers a compilation of recommendations across institutional types.

The book begins with a focus on two-year institutions. Chapter Two covers a forty-year overview of research on Black men in community colleges and emphasizes the barriers faced: racism, poor academic preparation, health risks, criminal justice policies, alienation, low expectations, and negative media portrayals. The chapter ends with an extensive list of policy recommendations for high schools, community colleges, and the state- and federal-levels of government. The next chapter begins with a literature review of the experiences of Black males within for-profit colleges—many of which are two-year institutions. Within the chapter, Fountaine shows that for-profit colleges are one of the leading granters of degrees for Black men—outpacing even historically Black colleges—particularly for degrees in business, management, or marketing. Fountaine concludes that for-profit colleges should be further examined as part of the educational pathways of Black men, in order to explore how to increase Black male graduation rates more generally.

The next six chapters center on four-year institutions. In Chapter Four, Berhanu and Jackson contemplate two Black men’s experiences as graduate students in an Ivy League institution. The findings demonstrate how undergraduate experiences with racism influence graduate school experiences (e.g., less engagement), and also offer a perspective on highly ambitious, driven Black male students. Chapter Five provides a counterpoint to the work on high-achieving Black men at predominantly White institutions, focusing instead on the impact of historically Black colleges. Gasman et al. describe how Black male participation has increased in some fields (computer science, biological science, and engineering), and demonstrate the need for research on Black male participation in other fields (e.g., mathematics, agricultural sciences). Chapter Six examines Black male enrollment and graduation from the top 50, nationally ranked, predominantly White institutions; findings reveal continued racial inequities in graduation outcomes for Black students. Chapter Seven explores the Black student experience in religiously affiliated institutions, many of which are also predominantly White. Marks, Carey-Butler, and Mitchell consider Black male experiences at private, not-for-profit colleges and universities: their findings suggest an increase in Black nationalist ideology and depressive symptomology, and a decrease in risky behavior, spirituality, and self esteem. Finally, Reddick, Heilig, and Valdez investigate Black men’s experiences at a Hispanic-serving institution and show that participants (a) were often unaware of the HSI designation, (b) regularly dealt with racial issues, and (c) turned to the Black student community for support.

College Cost Rise Unsustainable Says Stanford President

October 14th, 2014
Nick Anderson October 10  
The head of the Silicon Valley university at the forefront of the digital revolution in teaching and learning warned more than two years ago that “there’s a tsunami coming” in higher education. In hindsight, Stanford University President John L. Hennessy’s assessment could be seen as overstated.With isolated exceptions, colleges and universities do not seem this fall to be in jeopardy of financial collapse. Experiments in offering free education through “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, do not yet appear to be the market-disrupting force that some theorized they would be.

But Hennessy is taking a longer view. Ripples on the ocean’s surface far from shore, he contends, may yet signal a wave that will, eventually, rise and swamp the old college order.

 The “vast majority of higher education institutions,” Hennessy argues, need to “transform to a more sustainable economic model.” The reason: Diminished state subsidies for public higher education and stagnant family income threaten to undercut the funding that supports schools with high fixed expenses.

Hennessy had used the tsunami metaphor in an interview with the New Yorker for an April 2012 article about Stanford’s role as the intellectual engine of Silicon Valley. (The school was not thrilled with the headline: “Get Rich U.”) Here are a couple takeaways from a conversation The Post had this year with Hennessy, beginning over a summer lunch in Washington and continuing through recent e-mails.

 ●Colleges must get real about attacking the problem of costs. “The change must come from a boost in productivity,” he said. And what is productivity? Simply put: Degrees per dollar. “Technology is the best shot we have at bending the cost curve by enhancing productivity,” he said.● Don’t fall for hype over free online courses. Don’t ignore them either. “There is a role for MOOCs both as a tool to educate educators and as the primary access method for students who have few other choices,” Hennessy said. “But they will not be the mainstay of U.S. higher ed.” MOOCs, he said, “are only a small portion of a much larger change: the more aggressive use of online technologies.”

That could mean that a college focuses on adaptive learning, using computers to tailor the pace and content of a lesson to individual needs. Or the college could use more interactive videos to deliver what in years past would have been conveyed through lectures, eliminating the stultifying effect when a professor acts as a “sage on the stage.”

Hennessy is hardly the only educator to make these points. But his views carry weight because of Stanford’s deep ties to the high-tech world. Indeed, some of its faculty started the well-known MOOC companies Coursera and Udacity. Also, Hennessy has had a notably long run at the helm of the elite university.

A professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Hennessy, now 62, became Stanford’s 10th president in fall 2000. He has served longer in the position than any of his peers whose schools rank among the top 10 on the U.S. News and World Report list of national universities.

Among leaders of top-50 universities, only four have held office longer: Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999; William P. Leahy, president of Boston College since 1996; Mark Stephen Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis since 1995; and Henry T. Yang, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Barbara since 1994.

Ifety takes up a significant amount of his time, especially with the emergence of sexual assault prevention as a national issue. There are also perennial questions about underage alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

Asked how he would counsel incoming students on these issues, Hennessy said he supports “affirmative consent,” a key concept in California’s new “Yes means Yes” law.

“When consent is truly affirmative, there are rarely misunderstandings,” Hennessy said. “If consent cannot be given, it is assault to assume it is given. And no one should be afraid to say no when they are unsure.

“If you drink alcohol, never drink so much that you don’t know where you are, who you are with, or how to get ‘home.’ Under such conditions, anyone can do things they later greatly regret. . . .

“Finally, promise to intervene when you see a troublesome situation; don’t be an uninvolved bystander. Help a friend when they need help doing the right thing.”

He also weighed in on federal policy.

Of President Obama’s plan to rate colleges, announced last year, Hennessy said the government should tread carefully. “The danger of not doing this right is the unintended consequences,” he said.

Graduation rates, he said, should considered through the prism of family income of students — preferably broken down by income quartiles or quintiles, not just the single criterion of whether a student is eligible for federal Pell grants. The nation, he said, also needs better information on graduation because the primary current metric is how many full-time, first-time students obtain degrees within six years. “You also need measures for the many part-time and nontraditional students,” he said.

Asked what two things he would seek if he could magically enable the federal government to take action to improve higher ed, Hennessy offered three.

First: “Hold schools accountable for outcomes” by requiring them to share some financial responsibility when former students default on loans or when Pell grant recipients don’t earn a degree. “If we don’t do something like this there is a danger that the federal loan and grant programs will collapse,” he said. “Of course, these programs need to be risk adjusted to be fair.”

Second: “Fix K-12 [schools] to get many more students college-ready.” Data from the ACT admission test, he said, show “that only one third of the students are fully college ready in English, math and science. ONE-THIRD! And far too many students are in remedial programs. This is the number one thing that government could do to improve college graduation rates. It’s very hard.”

Third: “Help low-income kids with a little college counseling.” Eight hours of preparation for the SAT or ACT tests can make a difference, he said, as well as an hour of personalized college counseling and a simplified financial aid system. “Too many talented low-income kids don’t get to college because the process is overwhelming. This is easy to fix.”

He acknowledged his second goal “is extremely difficult and may take a long time to accomplish.”

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.
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Common Core Implementation Requires Educator Capacity Building

October 13th, 2014

The Common Core in California: An Interview With Mike Kirst
An excerpt:

Marc Tucker: How long will California teachers have to implement the Common Core before it counts for anything?

Michael Kirst: We will give a baseline assessment in 2015, but we know that full implementation of Common Core in our classrooms is going to take time.  We’re committed to getting this done right rather than letting federal policy dictate how we improve learning and student outcomes in our state.  We are still operating under the requirements of NCLB, and we’re providing $50,000 for professional development on Common Core in addition to other support for each school newly identified for corrective action.  Every time you ratchet up accountability, you have to ratchet up capacity.

Read the full blog and leave your comments here: http://bit.ly/1skCb5s.

Predictions About the BIg Impact OF Competency Based Education

October 9th, 2014

The Quiet Movement That Could End Higher Education as We Know it

By Michelle R. Weise

In an op-ed published this week in Bloomberg Businessweek, Michelle discusses why online competency-based education programs will inevitably gain an increasing amount of traction in the market—particularly when it comes to filling skills gaps in the workforce. The newer pathways could serve as robust alternatives to the traditional four-year degree.

 

Why “Full Time College” Should Be 15 Credits

October 8th, 2014
By Stan Jones, Complete College America
It’s Time to Redefine “Full-Time” in College as 15 Credits

As the current and former commissioners for Indiana’s higher education system, we agree that on-time college graduation must become the standard rather than the exception it is today. Less than 1 in 10 full-time community college students complete an associate degree within two years and just 3 in 10 full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree finish in four years.

If these students are attending college full-time and not part-time, why are so few graduating on time? One frustratingly simple reason is that many students just aren’t taking enough credits each semester. This is the unintended consequence of flawed federal policy combined with misconceptions about what’s in the best interest of students.

Since the federal government defines full-time enrollment as 12 credits per semester for financial aid purposes, students often mistake their “full-time” status with a guarantee for on-time graduation. In actuality, full-time students must take at least 15 credits per semester, or 30 credits per year, to earn their degrees on time. This disconnect costs students, families and taxpayers millions of dollars in extra tuition fees, loan debt and lost wages for each additional semester.

Equally troubling is the fact that students—especially low-income and first-generation college students—often are discouraged from taking more than 12 credits a semester. This well-intentioned but ultimately counterproductive advice is based on the conventional wisdom that students who “ease in” to college by taking fewer credits have a greater chance for success. The data tell a different story.

A recent report by the Community College Research Center adds to the evidence of what we’ve found to be true in Indiana and at institutions across the country: students who take 15 or more credits per semester earn better grades, are more likely to stay enrolled in school, and most important of all, they are far more likely to graduate.

With the launch of a statewide “15 to Finish” campaign this year, Indiana has joined a national movement led by Complete College America that aims to increase college completion by redefining full-time as 15 credits. In response, our colleges have incorporated the “15 to Finish” message into their academic and financial aid advising practices and students are becoming empowered as advocates for their own success.

Though most have embraced the “15 to Finish” campaign and the student-centered policies that support it, some critics have questioned whether this message is right for all students. The fact is many more students can benefit from increasing their credit accumulation. Indiana’s “15 to Finish” campaign is squarely focused on the nearly 40 percent of full-time Hoosier college students who are missing the mark of on-time graduation by only a couple courses each year.

We remain committed to advancing policies and practices that help all students, including part-time and returning adults, reap the rewards of a college credential sooner. We have all been inspired by the stories of students who finally earned their degrees after years of struggle. At the same time, we can’t help but wonder: If given a choice, would these students have wanted it to take so long?

This column was co-written by Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers and Complete College America President Stan Jones. Learn more about Indiana’s 15 to Finish campaign at 15toFinishIndiana.org

It first appeared in The Statehouse File.

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