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Archive for the ‘Common Core’ Category

I DO NOT #SupportTheCore

In Common Core, Education advocacy, School Deform, School reform on Thursday, 2 October 2014 at 05:20

#SupportTheCore: How Not To Do a Social Media Campaign.

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vam needs to go vamoose!

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, School reform on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 06:32

http://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

as you can see  from the article (and, there are MANY more studies and research) show that vam DOES NOT WORK:

“VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the SYSTEM-LEVEL conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/08/vamboozled-everything-you-want-to-know-about-vam-research/

this is from the amazing diane ravitch, a true warrior against anything that HURTS our children and is unnecessary of downright wrong.  i respect and admire her so very much.

from arne-white suburban moms-duncan, who”told a group of state schools superintendents Friday that he found it “fascinating” that some of the opposition to the Common Core State Standards has come from “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were” (retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/16/arne-duncan-white-surburban-moms-upset-that-common-core-shows-their-kids-arent-brilliant/).  funny, because diane ravitch is not a white suburban mom, jonathan kozol is not a white suburban mom, richard woods (running for state school superintendent in my good old state of geaoria, is not a white suburban mom (richard,] is the ONLY georgia candidate for superintendent who is wholly against common core (see: http://woodsforsuper.com/teachereval-testing-standards.html)

AND…I am NOT a white suburban mom (my kids are furry and have four legs and, thankfully, no opposing thumbs for which to bubble in answer sheets).  additionally, i already know my kids are JUST as brilliant as i think they are!  arne would not convince me otherwise…even if they could take tests! 

let us go back to arne for a moment and his reaction to the ACTUAL quantitative research about vam.  in another brilliant diane ravitch article (see: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/05/19/strauss-what-does-arne-think-of-new-vam-studies/), diane writes about valerie strauss calling the u.s. department of education to ask if arne was aware of the MULTITUDE of research (even a GATES funded study) proving vam was not an accurate and, as one study put it,  “VAM ratings had about the same relationship to reading and math scores as to changes in a student’s height”: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/05/13/32value-add.h33.html).  and she received the following response:  “Strauss called the U.S. Department of Education to ask whether Secretary Duncan was aware of the research and whether it had changed his views. The answers: yes, he was aware of the research; no, it had not changed his views.”

huh?!?!?!  maybe arne was playing basketball during his statistics class.

common core’s latest inappropriate assignment…taking on the validity of the holocaust.

In Common Core, School Deform on Monday, 19 May 2014 at 08:15

yes, this page has been very quiet lately.  there is so much to share but i find myself spending more time trying to make sense of common core (so far, i can’t) and fighting against it.  but…this was something i found so wholly in appropriate that i thought it needed to be shared wherever it could.  below is the actual assignment (retrieved from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/5/8th-grade-assignment-asks-students-argue-if-holoca/#ixzz32A5vje5L ):

“When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence,” the assignment read. “For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain. Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page”

“The English/Language Arts assignment, first reported Sunday by the San Bernardino Sun and provided to KTLA by the newspaper, asked students to write an argumentative essay about the Holocaust describing “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.

“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states the source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”

The other sources were from the websites history.com and about.com” (retrieved from: http://hotair.com/archives/2014/05/06/great-moments-in-education-ca-school-asks-students-to-ponder-whether-holocaust-story-was-just-propaganda-for-political-and-monetary-gain/).

“the school district was defending the assignment to The Sun as part of Common Core requirements to teach critical thinking. In an early response, one school board member said, “Current events are part of the basis for measuring IQ. The Middle East, Israel, Palestine and the Holocaust are on newscasts discussing current events. Teaching how to come to your own conclusion based on the facts, test your position, be able to articulate that position, then defend your belief with a lucid argument is essential to good citizenship.”

The Holocaust is a current event? Anyway, I can see both where this bus was going and why it was never going to get there. What if dozens of students decided to argue that the Holocaust didn’t happen, given the small amount of information provided by the writing assignment? Even though I believe the slaughter obviously did happen, I could easily see the argumentative eighth grade version of me trying to argue the other side just to prove I was clever. Imagine the kind of public relations disaster it would have been if it got out that a bunch of Rialto students wrote that the Holocaust didn’t happen in a school assignment. Imagine being those kids’ parents” (retrieved from: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/05/07/a-common-core-disaster-did-the-holocaust-actually-happen/).

your thoughts???

School Testing and the Rising Rate of ADHD

In ADHD, ADHD child/adolescent, Common Core, School Psychology on Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 05:36

School Testing and the Rising Rate of ADHD

by Miriam

A new book finds a startling connection

Read the Interview: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/could-school-testing-be-driving-adhd-n55661

Is the increased demand for performance behind the increased diagnoses of ADHD? Two University of California professors have released a book this month titled, “The ADHD Explosion.” They call it a “reality check” for parents, providers, educators and politicians.

The Berkeley professors, Dr. Stephen Hinshaw and Dr. Richard Scheffler, are noted researchers on ADHD. Their research tells them that federal policy issues may be behind the recent explosion in cases of ADHD.

“When you look at that [national testing policy], you get the
closest thing there is to a smoking gun,” says Dr.Scheffler.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, found that rates of ADHD in California have jumped by 24% since 2001. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports increases from 7.8 percent in 2003 to
9.5 percent in 2007 and to 11 percent in 2011— a rate of 5 percent a year.

It looks for all the world like a growing epidemic. But ADHD wasn’t even something people noticed until recently,” says Hinshaw.

“It started about the same time in history that we made kids go to school,” Hinshaw told NBC News in an interview.

Then come the 1990s, and a crisis of falling test scores. “What happened is that a number of states began to pass accountability laws,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw and Scheffler examined the correlation between diagnoses of ADHD and maps of states that had passed accountability laws.

According to NBC News, by the turn of the century, 30 states had passed accountability laws. They tended to be Republican-leaning states in the South, such as North Carolina. In 2007, 15.6 percent of all children in North Carolina had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point, including nearly one in three teenage boys.

Two things happening together don’t prove a correlation. Is it coincidence? Hinshaw and Scheffler were persuaded to look further.

AN NBC News article reports that the professors then examined date related to the No Child Left Behind federal policy enacted in 2002. It was one of the first official acts of President George W. Bush after he took office. NCLB required standardized testing to show if schools were, in fact, educating students. A truly salient aspect of NCLB was that it held teachers and principals directly responsible for the results and removed federal and state bureaucrats who mandate curriculum and educational policy.

According to the NBC News article:

“Now what happens is a natural experiment,” says Hinshaw. The other states raced to write accountability laws, requiring schools to show they are actually educating children.

“When you incentivize test scores above all else, there is probably pressure to get kids diagnosed with ADHD.”

Hinshaw and Scheffler compared ADHD rates in the 30 states that had been requiring testing with the 20 states that had to play catchup.

Rates of ADHD diagnoses soared.

“Children ages 8 to 13, living in low-income homes and in states without previous consequential accountability laws, went from a 10 percent to a 15.3 percent rate of ADHD diagnoses once No Child Left Behind started,” they wrote. That’s a 53 percent increase over four years.

California’s current rate, post-testing? It’s 7.3 percent. North
Carolina’s rate actually fell slightly, to 14.4 percent in 2011.

“When you incentivize test scores above all else, there is probably pressure to get kids diagnosed with ADHD,” Hinshaw said. “We know from our own research that medication not only makes you less fidgety but also can bump up your test scores.”

That would be the benign interpretation, that testing has
encouraged parents to get their kids in to see specialists for
much-needed medical care. But there’s also a more sinister
possibility and one that Hinshaw and Scheffler say is at work in
some states.

“If you can identify the children with ADHD, you can take them out of the pool that measures how schools are doing,” says Scheffler.

He says some districts — he won’t say where — do seem to have been doing so. State school officials and the federal Department of Education did not respond when contacted by NBC News.

No Child Left Behind ties federal funding to test scores, Scheffler points out.“You can see the incentive for schools to get kids diagnosed with ADHD,” he says.

Either way, Scheffler and Hinshaw say the increase in ADHD cases is real, and it’s not just affecting kids. Recent studies show adult diagnoses are on the rise, too.

“Although often ridiculed, ADHD represents a genuine medical
condition that robs people of major life chances,” they write in the book.

“You can see the incentive for schools to get kids diagnosed with ADHD.”

Scheffler doesn’t see the increase in adult ADHD diagnoses as
surprising. “This has nothing to do with the schools. This has to do with global competition and performance,” he says. People are under pressure to perform better at work.

And news about adult ADHD in turn sends more people to their doctors, and diagnoses spike even more, Hinshaw adds. “Here are we are in 2014 with evidence that medications can benefit. Adult ADHD clinics spring up,” he says.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” says Hinshaw.

What is bad is if ADHD is not being diagnosed with the proper care, Hinshaw says. A 10-minute pediatrician visit is not adequate for an ADHD diagnosis and certainly not as the basis for writing a prescription for a powerful stimulant, such as Ritalin or Adderall, to treat it.

“Many pediatricians are not trained in the emotional disorders of childhood, or not reimbursed for the time it takes,” Hinshaw said.

“It is easy to pull out prescription pad at the end of a visit.”

He calls the book a “reality check” and says parents, providers, educators and politicians should take note, and make sure the right kids are being diagnosed, and helped, properly.

Rertieved from: http://www.playattention.com/school-testing-rising-rate-adhd/

 

Could School Testing Be Driving ADHD?

BY MAGGIE FOX

All it took was a map to convince health economists Stephen Hinshaw and Richard Scheffler that it must be some kind of policy issue driving a recent explosion in cases of ADHD.

And a convenient natural experiment — in the form of the federal government’s No Child Left Behind — provided the answer, the two experts argue in a new book. It’s school testing, they say.

“When you look at that, you get the closest thing there is to a smoking gun,” says Richard Scheffler, of the University of California Berkeley who co-authored the book, “The ADHD Explosion”, which was just published this month.

“You get the closest thing there is to a smoking gun.”

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing, the authors say, if children are being diagnosed properly, and if they’re getting the right treatments.

There’s no question there’s been a huge increase in the number of kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 6.4 million kids aged 4 to 17, or 11 percent of that age group, were diagnosed with ADHD as of 2011.

And CDC documents a steady increase, from 7.8 percent in 2003 to 9.5 percent in 2007 and to 11 percent in 2011— a rate of 5 percent a year.

It looks for all the world like a growing epidemic, says Stephen Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at Berkeley who wrote the book with Hinshaw. But ADHD wasn’t even something people noticed until recently, he says.

“It started about the same time in history that we made kids go to school,” Hinshaw told NBC News in an interview.

Then come the 1990s, and a crisis of falling test scores. “What happened is that a number of states began to pass accountability laws,” Hinshaw said.

In the early 2000s, the CDC began tracking ADHD diagnoses. Hinshaw and Scheffler looked at the maps showing the rates of ADHD, and compared them to a map that showed which states had passed accountability laws.

By the turn of the century, 30 states had passed accountability laws. They tended to be Republican-leaning states in the South, such as North Carolina. In 2007, 15.6 percent of all children in North Carolina had been diagnosed with ADHD at some point, including nearly one in three teenage boys.

This was more than twice the rate in California, with a 6 percent rate.

But this was just a correlation, Hinshaw says. Just because two things happen together in time doesn’t mean one caused the other. They looked at differences in culture, ethnicity, in the number of doctors per capita and at possible other causes. Nothing really explained the different rates of ADHD in different states.

Then No Child Left Behind became federal policy in 2002. One of the first official acts of President George W. Bush after he took office was to ask Congress to write and pass the law.

It called for standardized testing to show if schools were, in fact, educating students. Local state laws often held teachers and principals directly responsible for the results.

“Now what happens is a natural experiment,” says Hinshaw. The other states raced to write accountability laws, requiring schools to show they are actually educating children.

“When you incentivize test scores above all else, there is probably pressure to get kids diagnosed with ADHD.”

Hinshaw and Scheffler compared ADHD rates in the 30 states that had been requiring testing with the 20 states that had to play catchup. Rates of ADHD diagnoses soared.

“Children ages 8 to 13, living in low-income homes and in states without previous consequential accountability laws, went from a 10 percent to a 15.3 percent rate of ADHD diagnoses once No Child Left Behind started,” they wrote. That’s a 53 percent increase over four years.

California’s current rate, post-testing? It’s 7.3 percent. North Carolina’s rate actually fell slightly, to 14.4 percent in 2011.

“When you incentivize test scores above all else, there is probably pressure to get kids diagnosed with ADHD,” Hinshaw said. “We know from our own research that medication not only makes you less fidgety but also can bump up your test scores.”

That would be the benign interpretation, that testing has encouraged parents to get their kids in to see specialists for much-needed medical care. But there’s also a more sinister possibility and one that Hinshaw and Scheffler say is at work in some states.

“If you can identify the children with ADHD, you can take them out of the pool that measures how schools are doing,” says Scheffler. He says some districts — he won’t say where — do seem to have been doing so. State school officials and the federal Department of Education did not respond when contacted by NBC News.

No Child Left Behind ties federal funding to test scores, Scheffler points out.“You can see the incentive for schools to get kids diagnosed with ADHD,” he says.

Either way, Scheffler and Hinshaw say the increase in ADHD cases is real, and it’s not just affecting kids. Recent studies show adult diagnoses are on the rise, too.

“Although often ridiculed, ADHD represents a genuine medical condition that robs people of major life chances,” they write in the book.

“You can see the incentive for schools to get kids diagnosed with ADHD.”

Scheffler doesn’t see the increase in adult ADHD diagnoses as surprising. “This has nothing to do with the schools. This has to do with global competition and performance,” he says. People are under pressure to perform better at work.

And news about adult ADHD in turn sends more people to their doctors, and diagnoses spike even more, Hinshaw adds. “Here are we are in 2014 with evidence that medications can benefit. Adult ADHD clinics spring up,” he says.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing,” says Hinshaw.

What is bad is if ADHD is not being diagnosed with the proper care, Hinshaw says. A 10-minute pediatrician visit is not adequate for an ADHD diagnosis and certainly not as the basis for writing a prescription for a powerful stimulant, such as Ritalin or Adderall, to treat it.

“Many pediatricians are not trained in the emotional disorders of childhood, or not reimbursed for the time it takes,” Hinshaw said. “It is easy to pull out prescription pad at the end of a visit.”

He calls the book a “reality check” and says parents, providers, educators and politicians should take note, and make sure the right kids are being diagnosed, and helped, properly.

Retrieved from: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/could-school-testing-be-driving-adhd-n55661

ravitch-everything you need to know about common core.

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, School Deform, School reform, Uncategorized on Friday, 28 March 2014 at 04:10

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

blog to watch

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School Deform on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 07:42

this is francesco portelo’s page.  he is one of the many in the ‘famous’ rubber rooms.  so, so many have been through the manipulations and lies of the ny doe.  francesco’s story is just one in many.  sad, but true.

http://protectportelos.org/the-story/

you might also be interested in another case called “david versus goliath.”  david pakter fought and refused to back down.  he is a true hero in education and i am extremely proud to know him and be able to call him “friend.”  here is one link to his amazing story (ironically written by francesco portelos):

http://protectportelos.org/the-david-pakter-saga-an-all-too-familiar-of-a-story/

one more:

http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2010/06/charges-against-david-pakter-dismissed.html

just know that these are only TWO stories in thousands.  many did not fight.  many tried to fight.  many sit in rubber rooms waiting to hear their “fate.”  it’s just not right.  when will this inane war on teachers STOP?  we have teachers who jump in front of bullets to save children, teachers who stay at work for DAYS with stranded students during a snowstorm instead of going home to their own families, as well as teachers who do remarkable things each and every day out of a true care for their students.  unfortunately, trying to save childrens’ lives or comforting them while they are stuck at school for two days are NOT part of the common core.  there are no tests to bubble in, so these things teachers did to protect their students and out of love don’t count.  there is no test to bubble in; nothing to show the things that go above and beyond.  instead, test scores determine their pay and could be a cause for termination. should student surveys and test scores determine a “good” teacher???  teachers are our everyday heroes.  please thank a teacher today.

a common core roadmap

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School Deform on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 at 07:21

sad…

http://prezi.com/-hb2rb3a9zkf/a-roadmap-to-understanding-common-core/

Attention dog owners: introducing the new Common Core National Canine Standards

In Common Core, Education, School Deform, School reform on Tuesday, 7 January 2014 at 08:35

Attention dog owners: introducing the new Common Core National Canine Standards.

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core’

In Common Core, Education on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 18:40

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core’

By: Valerie South

Here’s a powerful piece about how an award-winning principal went from being aCommon Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals.

By Carol Burris

When I first read about the Common Core State Standards, I cheered.  I believe that our schools should teach all students (except for those who have severe learning disabilities), the skills, habits and knowledge that they need to be successful in post secondary education. That doesn’t mean that every teenager must be prepared to enter Harvard, but it does mean that every young adult, with few exceptions, should at least be prepared to enter their local community college. That is how we give students a real choice.

I even co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core,” on how to help schools meet that goal.  It is a book about rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices, not about testing and sanctions. We wrote it because we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity.

I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted.  The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.

I hear about those distortions every day.  Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children.  They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms.  Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music.  Here is a question:

 Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

 

  1. to force someone to do work against his or her will
  2. to divide a piece of music into different movements
  3. to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
  4. to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top.  What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

I think that the reason for the quiz is evident to anyone who has been following the reform debate.  The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development. Probably, the music teacher believes she must do her part in test prep. More than likely she is being evaluated in part by the English Language Arts test scores of the building. Teachers are engaged in practices like these because they are pressured and afraid, not because they think the assessments are educationally sound. Their principals are pressured and nervous about their own scores and the school’s scores. Guaranteed, every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well.

An English teacher in my building came to me with a ‘reading test’ that her third grader took. Her daughter did poorly on the test.  As both a mother and an English teacher she knew that the difficulty of the passage and the questions were way over grade level.  Her daughter, who is an excellent reader, was crushed.  She and I looked on the side of the copy of the quiz and found the word “Pearson.” The school, responding to pressure from New York State, had purchased test prep materials from the company that makes the exam for the state.

I am troubled that a company that has a multi-million dollar contract to create tests for the state should also be able to profit from producing test prep materials. I am even more deeply troubled that this wonderful little girl, whom I have known since she was born, is being subject to this distortion of what her primary education should be.

There are so many stories that I could tell–the story of my guidance counselor’s sixth-grade, learning disabled child who feels like a failure due to constant testing, a principal of an elementary school who is furious with having to use to use a book he deems inappropriate for third graders because his district bought the State Education Department approved common core curriculum, and the frustration of math teachers due to the ever-changing rules regarding the use of calculators on the tests.  And all of this is mixed with the toxic fear that comes from knowing you will be evaluated by test results and that “your score” will be known to any of your parents who ask.

When state education officials chide, “Don’t drill for the test, it does not work”, teachers laugh. Of course test prep works. Every parent who has ever paid hundreds of dollarsfor SAT prep knows it works —but no parent is foolish enough to think that the average 56 point ‘coaching’ jump in an SAT score means that their child is more “college ready.”

Test scores are a rough proxy for learning. Tests imperfectly examine selected domains of skills, so that we can infer what students know. Real learning occurs in the mind of the learner when she makes connections with prior learning, makes meaning, and retains that knowledge in order to create additional meaning from new information.  In short, with tests we see traces of learning, not learning itself.

What occurs in a “data driven”, high-stakes learning environment is that the full domain of what should be learned narrows to those items tested.  The Common Core, for example, wants students to grow in five skill areas in English Language Arts — reading, writing, speaking, listening and collaboration. But the Common Core tests will only measure reading and writing.  Parents can expect that the other three will be neglected as teachers frantically try to prepare students for the difficult and high-stakes tests.  What gets measured gets done, and make no mistake: “reformers” understand that full well.  In fact, they count on it. They see data, not children.  For the corporate reformers, test data constitute the bottom-line profits that they watch.

There is no one more knowledgeable about school change and systemic reforms than Michael Fullan.  He is a renowned international authority on school reform, having been actively engaged in both its implementation as well in the analysis of reform results.  I had the pleasure of listening to him this week at the Long Island ASCD spring conference.

Fullan told us that the present reforms are led by the wrong drivers of change — individual accountability of teachers, linked to test scores and punishment, cannot be successful in transforming schools.  He told us that the Common Core standards will fall of their own weight because standards and assessments, rather than curriculum and instruction are driving the Common Core.  He explained that the right driver of school change is capacity building.  Data should be used as a strategy for improvement, not for accountability purposes.  The Common Core is a powerful tool, but it is being implemented using the wrong drivers.

Fullan helped to successfully lead the transformation of schools in Ontario, Canada, and he has tried to influence our national conversation, but his advice has been shunned.  I will close with a final quote from Fullan and let readers draw their own conclusions:

A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.

Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/04/principal-i-was-naive-about-common-core/

new york and the common core…a parody (kind of)

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School Deform, School reform on Thursday, 19 September 2013 at 05:51

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvKVkitKOgk&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOvKVkitKOgk&app=desktop

a leader by example…what a novel idea!

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Friday, 6 September 2013 at 06:54

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/09/05/a-brave-superintendent-in-long-island/

common core…the end-all-be all? i think not…

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Monday, 13 May 2013 at 06:03

Two Moms vs. Common Core

How an eight-year-old’s homework assignment led to a political upheaval

By  Maggie Gallagher

Indiana has become the first state to retreat from the Common Core standards, as Governor Mike Pence has just signed a bill suspending their implementation.

A great deal has been written and spoken about Common Core, but it is worth rehearsing the outlines again. Common Core is a set of math and English standards developed largely with Gates Foundation money and pushed by the Obama administration and the National Governors Association. The standards define what every schoolchild should learn each year, from first grade through twelfth, and the package includes teacher evaluations tied to federally funded tests designed to ensure that schools teach to Common Core.

Over 40 states hurriedly adopted Common Core, some before the standards were even written, in response to the Obama administration’s making more than $4 billion in federal grants conditional on their doing so. Only Texas, Alaska, Virginia, and Nebraska declined. (Minnesota adopted the English but not the math standards.)

Here is my prediction: Indiana is the start of something big.

Just a year ago Common Core was untouchable in Indiana, as in most other places. Common Core had been promoted by conservative governor Mitch Daniels, and the state superintendent of public schools, Tony Bennett, was a rising GOP education star.

How did the bipartisan Common Core “consensus” collapse?

It collapsed because some parents saw that Common Core was actually lowering standards in their children’s schools. And because advocates for Common Core could not answer the questions these parents raised.

In Indiana, the story starts with two Indianapolis moms, Heather Crossin and her friend Erin Tuttle.

In September 2011, Heather suddenly noticed a sharp decline in the math homework her eight-year-old daughter was bringing home from Catholic school.

“Instead of many arithmetic problems, the homework would contain only three or four questions, and two of those would be ‘explain your answer,’” Heather told me. “Like, ‘One bridge is 412 feet long and the other bridge is 206 feet long. Which bridge is longer? How do you know?’”

She found she could not help her daughter answer the latter question: The “right” answer involved heavy quotation from Common Core language. A program designed to encourage thought had ended up encouraging rote memorization not of math but of scripts about math.

Heather was noticing on the ground some of the same things that caused Stanford mathematics professor R. James Milgram to withhold his approval from the Common Core math standards.

Professor Milgram was the only math content expert on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards, and he concluded that the Common Core standards are, as he told the Texas state legislature, “in large measure a political document that . . . is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high-achieving countries give dramatically better results.”

The Common Core math standards deemphasize performing procedures (solving many similar problems) in favor of attempting to push a deeper cognitive understanding — e.g., asking questions like “How do you know?”

In fact, according to a scholarly 2011 content analysis published in Education Researcher by Andrew Porter and colleagues, the Common Core math standards bear little resemblance to the national curriculum standards in countries with high-achieving math students: “Top-achieving countries for which we had content standards,” these scholars note, “put a greater emphasis on [the category] ‘perform procedures’ than do the U.S. Common Core standards.”

So why was this new, unvalidated math approach suddenly appearing in Heather’s little corner of the world, and at a Catholic school?

Heather was not alone in questioning the new approach. So many parents at the school complained that the principal convened a meeting. He brought in the saleswoman from the Pearson textbook company to sell the parents. “She told us we were all so very, very lucky, because our children were using one of the very first Common Core–aligned textbooks in the country,” says Heather.

But the parents weren’t buying what the Pearson lady was selling.

“Eventually,” Heather recalled, “our principal just threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘I know parents don’t like this type of math but we have to teach it that way, because the new state assessment tests are going to use these standards.’”

That’s the first time Heather had heard that Indiana had replaced its well-regarded state tests, ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress–Plus) in favor of a brand-new federally funded set of assessments keyed to Common Core. “I thought I was a fairly informed person, and I was shocked that a big shift in control had happened and I hadn’t the slightest idea,” she says.

Erin Tuttle says she noticed the change in the math homework at about the same time as Heather, and she also noticed that her child was bringing home a lot fewer novels and more “Time magazine for kids” — a reflection of the English standards’ emphasis on “informational texts” rather than literature.

These standards are designed not to produce well-educated citizens but to prepare students to enter community colleges and lower-level jobs. All students, not just non-college-material students, are going to be taught to this lower standard.

I want to pause and highlight the significance of Heather and Erin’s testimony. Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle did not get involved in opposing Common Core because of anything Michelle Malkin or Glenn Beck said to rile them up, but because of what they saw happening in their own children’s Catholic school. When experts or politicians said that Common Core would not lead to a surrender of local control over curriculum, Heather and Erin knew better. (Ironically, the leverage in Indiana was Tony Bennett’s school-choice program, which made state vouchers available to religious schools, but only if they adopted state tests — which were later quietly switched from ISTEP to the untried Common Core assessments.)

A STEALTH CAMPAIGN TO BYPASS PARENTS
At first Heather thought maybe her ignorance of Common Core was her fault. Maybe, with her kids (as she imagined) safely ensconced in good Catholic schools, she hadn’t paid attention.

That’s when she and Erin started contacting people — “and we found out something more shocking: Nobody had any idea,” Heather told me.

A friend of Heather’s who is a former reporter for a state newspaper and now a teacher didn’t know. Nor did her state senator, Scott Schneider, even though he sat on the state senate’s Education Committee. (In Indiana, as in most states, Common Core was adopted by the Board of Education without consulting the legislature.) Nor, evidently, did the state’s education reporters — Heather could find literally no press coverage of the key moment when Indiana’s Board of Education abandoned its fine state standards and well-regarded state tests in favor of Common Core.

“They brought in David Coleman, the architect of the standards, to give a presentation, they asked a few questions, there was no debate, no cost analysis, just a sales job, and everybody rubber-stamped it,” Heather said.

So began an 18-month journey in which these two mothers probably changed education history.

One reason the media ignored the implementation of Common Core is that the Indiana education debate was dominated by Governor Daniels’s high-profile effort to expand school choice. But as my colleague at the American Principles Project (APP) Emmett McGroarty pointed out to me, nationalizing curriculum standards quietly knifes the school-choice movement in the back. As McGroarty puts it, “What difference does it make if you fund different schools if they all teach the same basic curriculum the same basic way?”

Common Core advocates continue to insist that Common Core does not usurp local control of curriculum, but in practice high-stakes tests keyed to the Common Core standards ensure that curriculum will follow.

Emmett McGroarty turns out to have been a very important person in the journey that Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle made to take down Common Core.

Heather and Erin were helped by many people and groups along the way, including the Pioneer Institute’s Jamie Gass, the Hoover Institution’s Bill Evers, and the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke. Many Indiana organizations played key roles, beginning with the indispensable leadership of the Indiana Tea Party. Other natural allies Heather and Erin contacted and educated in order to build the movement include the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the Indiana Family Institute, and the Indiana Association of Home Educators.

But Heather told me that what McGroarty and his colleague Jane Robbins at the American Principles Project did was unique. “I call him the General of this movement,” Heather says. “He strategizes with people in every state. Day or night, Saturday or Sunday, Emmett’s there if you need him.”

The 2012 white paper, co-sponsored by the American Principles Project and the Pioneer Institute, that urged the American Legislative Exchange Council to oppose Common Core became Heather and Erin’s bible. “That white paper is the most important summary; we gave copies to people and said, ‘Read this. If you can’t read the whole thing, read the executive summary.’ Because it covered all the bases, from the quality of the standards to the illegitimate federal data collection to the federal government’s involvement in promoting Common Core,” Heather told me.

But even more influential than its message development was APP’s willingness to give in-depth, hands-on, intensive help whenever Heather and Erin requested it. “Usually you call up a national organization, and they are really nice, they say they are with you, and they send you some helpful research and say, ‘Good luck with that,’” Heather explained. But APP did much more. “All along the way APP has been the greatest source of support mentally, emotionally, and with research that a grassroots organization could have had.”

A big break came in June 2012, when the local tea-party council asked Heather and Erin to develop a flyer that it could use to spread the word to tea-party meetings all across the state; the two women turned to Emmett and Jane to help draft it. The first time Heather and Erin were asked to appear on a local radio show (something they had never done before), they asked Emmett if he would fly in and do the show with them. APP staff would fly out to attend rallies, do local radio shows with Heather and Erin, help them prepare to meet with editorial boards, and act as sounding boards and strategists each step of the way as the grassroots movement grew.

THE FIRST TIME FAILED
In 2012, it looked as if Heather and Erin had failed: Prodded by Governor Daniels, the Indiana legislature voted down a bill to withdraw from Common Core.

Heather was ready to give up. Without hands-on support, she told me, “For sure, I would have given up. But Emmett told me this was just the beginning.”

So Senator Schneider agreed to introduce the bill again, and Heather and Erin went to work crisscrossing the state that summer for rallies and meetings that drew large crowds. The media reluctantly began to take notice.

And then something magical intervened: an election.

Tony Bennett’s reelection as state superintendent of public schools was supposed to be a slam dunk. His opponent, Glenda Ritz, was a Democrat in a deeply Republican state, and she had no name recognition and almost no money; she ended up being outspent by more than 5 to 1 as Bennett’s war chest swelled to $1.5 million with major gifts from Michael Bloomberg’s PAC, Walmart heiress Alice Walton, and other national players.

But Bennett was also the highest-profile public defender of Common Core, while Ritz was raising concerns about it.

When the dust had settled on election day, Bennett had lost, badly. It was the upset of the year.

When Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute (which backs Common Core), found out late on election night that Bennett had been unseated by the unknown, underfunded underdog Glenda Ritz, he wasn’t happy: “Tony Bennett! Sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t sh*t,” Petrilli told Huffington Post writer Joy Resmovits. “You can quote me on that.”

Well, something had clearly hit the fan.

Bennett’s defeat marked a decisive turning point, making every Indiana politician aware how deep voter discontent over Common Core was.

In Indiana, as elsewhere, Common Core proponents have responded to public criticism by accusing the parents of being stupid and uninformed or possibly lying. Common Core, they say, is not a curriculum; it is not being driven by the federal government; it will not interfere with local control of schools.

A few days before Senator Schneider’s anti–Common Core bill passed, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce (which had spent more than $100,000 in ads opposing the bill) lashed out in frustration at the outsized effect Heather and Erin had had on the legislature: “Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards,” the Chamber of Commerce fumed.

This is not accurate, given the opposition by many education experts, including Professor Milgram, Professor Sandra Stotsky of the University of Arkansas, Professor Diane Ravitch of New York University, Professor Chris Tienken of Seton Hall, and former assistant education secretary Williamson Evers at Hoover.

But never underestimate the power of a mother, especially one who is defending her own child’s future.

What started in Indiana is not staying in Indiana.

Legislation opposing Common Core has been introduced in at least seven other states, and large crowds are turning out at public panels and rallies in states from Tennessee to Idaho. Last month the Michigan state house voted to withhold implementation funding, despite Republican governor Rick Snyder’s support for Common Core; the Missouri senate this week approved a bill calling for statewide hearings on Common Core.

In April the RNC passed a resolution opposing Common Core as “inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children.”

On April 20, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R., Mo.) sent a letter — co-signed by 33 other congressmen — to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, asking for a detailed accounting of changes in student-privacy policies associated with the new national database the Obama administration is building as part of its Common Core support. The letter pointed out that the Education Department had already made regulatory changes — without consulting Congress — that appear to circumvent the 1974 law that limits the disclosure to third parties of any data collected on students.

“The Common Core places inappropriate limitations on the influence of states and localities, while burdening them with additional, unfunded expenses,” Representative Luetkemeyer told me via e-mail.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is taking the lead nationally in shining light on the Obama administration’s key role in promoting Common Core. On April 16, Grassley was joined by seven other GOP senators (including major presidential contenders Ted Cruz and Rand Paul), who signed a letter calling on their colleagues to stop funding the implementation of Common Core, which, they point out, appears to violate federal laws that explicitly forbid the Education Department to influence curriculum or assemble a national database. “I voted against the Economic Stimulus Bill that essentially gave the Department of Education a blank check that was used for Race to the Top, and I have been very critical of how the Department of Education used those funds to push a specific education policy agenda from Washington on the states without specific input from Congress,” Senator Grassley told me via e-mail.

The recent announcement by Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, that the AFT wants to delay implementation of the Common Core tests in New York put a bipartisan nail in the coffin of consensus.

And more moms are following the trail Heather Crossin and Erin Tuttle blazed.

One major objection to the Common Core standards is that they are not evidence-based. Their effect on academic achievement is simply unknown, because they have not been field-tested anywhere in the world.

But moms have a more elemental objection: The whole operation is a federal power grab over their children’s education. Once a state adopts Common Core, its curriculum goals and assessments are effectively nationalized. And the national standards are effectively privatized, because they are written, owned, and copyrighted by two private trade organizations.

“Legislators are incredulous when they learn the standards and assessments are written by two private trade organizations — the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. This creates concern why public education is now controlled by two private organizations,” says Gretchen Logue, a Missouri education activist and one of the co-founders of Truth in American Education, a network of activists and organizations opposing Common Core. “They also don’t like that the standards and assessments are copyrighted and cannot be changed or modified by the states.”

So why are so many good conservatives, from Jeb Bush to Rick Snyder, supporting Common Core? Many conservatives signed on to a clever strategy that asked them to endorse, not the specific standards, but the idea of high “internationally benchmarked” national standards. It is a principle of psychological persuasion that, once you act, in however small a manner, you will feel cognitively compelled to justify your action. Many business leaders with no experience or expertise in education reform have come on board.

This is as good an explanation as any for why so many conservatives are aggressively promoting a set of national standards about which we know, for sure, four things:

a) They are not internationally benchmarked. In fact, for math in particular, they are exactly contrary to the kind of national standards used in high-performing countries.

b) The two major experts on content who were on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards backed out and repudiated them when they saw what the standards actually are.

c) State legislatures and parents were cut out of the loop in evaluating the standards themselves or the cost of implementing them.

d) The Common Core standards are owned by private trade organizations, which parents cannot influence.

These objections, among others, led Diane Ravitch to call on her blog for backing out of Common Core, as the standards were “flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.”

Ravitch went on: “The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of the nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.”

I asked Heather how she felt on that historic day she saw the very first anti–Common Core bill in the nation pass. “I was elated!” she told me. “We were up against so many powerful groups with so much money. We fought against all odds, tons of money, a slew of paid lobbyists. All we had was the truth, the facts, and a passion to protect the future of our children. Our victory is proof that our American system of government still works.”

— Maggie Gallagher is a fellow at the American Principles Project. Her work can be read at MaggieGallagher.com.

Retrieved from: http://www.nationalreview.com/node/347973/print

are test companies trying to capitalize on the adoption of the common core?

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 08:53

 i like pearson and use their testing products as a school psychologist, but when you have the company making the “high stakes tests AND making the review materials, it appears to be a conflict of interest, imo.  would you trust only studies from a drug company that makes the drug or would you try to find other, independent studies?  maybe it’s not the same, but once again, showing the bias of the reformers and their abject acceptance of the common core despite the data coming out that is NOT favorable in the states where it was piloted.

Testing company Pearson spending millions to influence schools

POSTED AT 2:20 PM BY ZAID JILANI

In America’s schools, the barrage of standardized testing kids have come under is overwhelming. From the Iowa Test of Basic Standards (ITBS) to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the alphabet soup of bubble-in tests that fill our schools isprovoking a backlash from educators and parents who think kids are over-tested and denied the opportunities for more meaningful projects, essays, and group learning.

Increasingly, school districts themselves are revolting against the testing obsession. As of last month, “232 Texas school districts have adopted resolutions” calling for a re-evaluation of the test-centered education provided to their students.

This backlash threatens an increasingly powerful special interest: the companies that make the tests and other electronic software used in classrooms. One of the largest of these corporations is Pearson Education, Inc.

Education researcher Ken Libby dug through the records and found that Pearson is spending big on lobbying in four critical states — New York, California, Texas, and Florida. Here’s a small table he made laying out the millions Pearson is spending (i could not copy the graphic for just pearson, so i am including mcgraw hill in the table):

Screen-Shot-2012-05-02-at-8.32.51-PM

 

As America confronts its addiction to high-stakes testing, it appears that the companies benefiting from it are willing to spend generously in order to keep taxpayer dollars flowing their way.

UPDATE: An original version of this post had the totals for Florida twice as high as they actually are, because of a reporting requirement in the state that requires totals to be delivered to both executive and legislative branches. A lobbyist for Pearson in Florida, Steve Ulhfelder, pointed this out to us. We apologize for the earlier error.

Retrieved from: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/testing-company-pearson-spending-millions-to-influence-schools/

 

 

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core.’

In Common Core, Education, Education advocacy, Pedagogy, School reform on Monday, 11 March 2013 at 11:56

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core.’

Here’s a powerful piece about how an award-winning principal went from being a Common Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals.

By Carol Burris

When I first read about the Common Core State Standards, I cheered.  I believe that our schools should teach all students (except for those who have severe learning disabilities), the skills, habits and knowledge that they need to be successful in post secondary education. That doesn’t mean that every teenager must be prepared to enter Harvard, but it does mean that every young adult, with few exceptions, should at least be prepared to enter their local community college. That is how we give students a real choice.

I even co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core,” on how to help schools meet that goal.  It is a book about rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices, not about testing and sanctions. We wrote it because we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity.

I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted.  The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.

I hear about those distortions every day.  Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children.  They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms.  Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music.  Here is a question:

 

Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

  1. to force someone to do work against his or her will
  2. to divide a piece of music into different movements
  3. to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
  4. to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top.  What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

I think that the reason for the quiz is evident to anyone who has been following the reform debate.  The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development. Probably, the music teacher believes she must do her part in test prep. More than likely she is being evaluated in part by the English Language Arts test scores of the building. Teachers are engaged in practices like these because they are pressured and afraid, not because they think the assessments are educationally sound. Their principals are pressured and nervous about their own scores and the school’s scores. Guaranteed, every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well.

An English teacher in my building came to me with a ‘reading test’ that her third grader took. Her daughter did poorly on the test.  As both a mother and an English teacher she knew that the difficulty of the passage and the questions were way over grade level.  Her daughter, who is an excellent reader, was crushed.  She and I looked on the side of the copy of the quiz and found the word “Pearson.” The school, responding to pressure from New York State, had purchased test prep materials from the company that makes the exam for the state.

I am troubled that a company that has a multi-million dollar contract to create tests for the state should also be able to profit from producing test prep materials. I am even more deeply troubled that this wonderful little girl, whom I have known since she was born, is being subject to this distortion of what her primary education should be.

There are so many stories that I could tell–the story of my guidance counselor’s sixth-grade, learning disabled child who feels like a failure due to constant testing, a principal of an elementary school who is furious with having to use to use a book he deems inappropriate for third graders because his district bought the State Education Department approved common core curriculum, and the frustration of math teachers due to the ever-changing rules regarding the use of calculators on the tests.  And all of this is mixed with the toxic fear that comes from knowing you will be evaluated by test results and that “your score” will be known to any of your parents who ask.

When state education officials chide, “Don’t drill for the test, it does not work”, teachers laugh. Of course test prep works. Every parent who has ever paid hundreds of dollars forSAT prep knows it works —but no parent is foolish enough to think that the average 56 point ‘coaching’ jump in an SAT score means that their child is more “college ready.”

Test scores are a rough proxy for learning. Tests imperfectly examine selected domains of skills, so that we can infer what students know. Real learning occurs in the mind of the learner when she makes connections with prior learning, makes meaning, and retains that knowledge in order to create additional meaning from new information.  In short, with tests we see traces of learning, not learning itself.

What occurs in a “data driven”, high-stakes learning environment is that the full domain of what should be learned narrows to those items tested.  The Common Core, for example, wants students to grow in five skill areas in English Language Arts — reading, writing, speaking, listening and collaboration. But the Common Core tests will only measure reading and writing.  Parents can expect that the other three will be neglected as teachers frantically try to prepare students for the difficult and high-stakes tests.  What gets measured gets done, and make no mistake: “reformers” understand that full well.  In fact, they count on it. They see data, not children.  For the corporate reformers, test data constitute the bottom-line profits that they watch.

There is no one more knowledgeable about school change and systemic reforms than Michael Fullan.  He is a renowned international authority on school reform, having been actively engaged in both its implementation as well in the analysis of reform results.  I had the pleasure of listening to him this week at the Long Island ASCD spring conference.

Fullan told us that the present reforms are led by the wrong drivers of change — individual accountability of teachers, linked to test scores and punishment, cannot be successful in transforming schools.  He told us that the Common Core standards will fall of their own weight because standards and assessments, rather than curriculum and instruction are driving the Common Core.  He explained that the right driver of school change is capacity building.  Data should be used as a strategy for improvement, not for accountability purposes.  The Common Core is a powerful tool, but it is being implemented using the wrong drivers.

Fullan helped to successfully lead the transformation of schools in Ontario, Canada, and he has tried to influence our national conversation, but his advice has been shunned.  I will close with a final quote from Fullan and let readers draw their own conclusions:

A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.

Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/04/principal-i-was-naive-about-common-core/

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