Revisioning Graduate Teacher Education in North Carolina Master of Arts in Elementary Education Appalachian State University

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1 Revisioning Graduate Teacher Education in North Carolina Master of Arts in Elementary Education Appalachian State University A. A description of how the proposed program has been revisioned to reflect the Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates and the 21st century knowledge, skills, and dispositions embedded in them and the rationale for the changes. The following program revisions are based on the new North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards (NCPTS) for graduate level candidates with an increased emphasis on content knowledge, assessment, and 21 st Century Skills. All revisions have been initiated and approved by program area faculty and the program advisory council (PAC). Table A1. Specific Changes in the Program Specific Change A new course in assessment will be added to the required curriculum for the degree. Previously, elementary teacher candidates were required to take CI 5055 Connecting Subject Matter and Learners. Added an additional hour to CI 5130, Recent Trends and Issues in Education. Rationale for the Change The new assessment course is designed to have a specific focus on policies and practices in the assessment of student learning. Elementary faculty members and program advisory council have made suggestions on appropriate content and assignments for the course. Aligned with the new NCPTS s focus on data-driven decision-making, emphasis is placed on the examination of assessment data to better inform instructional decisions. The changes made in this course reflect a stronger emphasis on increasing student knowledge of world cultures, global issues, and 21st Century Skills. The assignments for the course will aid elementary teacher candidates in fostering partnerships with families, schools, and communities as well as comparing educational practices through a global lens. Four content/pedagogy courses (12 semester hours) were added to the required components. Previously only 6 semester hours were required in content areas. CI 5592, Elementary Education Strategies, and CI 5980, Special Topics in Education, were deleted. Topics covered in the deleted courses will now be addressed in the new content/pedagogy courses. Courses that strengthen practicing teachers content and pedagogical knowledge of mathematics, science, social studies, and reading were added to provide candidates with an in-depth understanding of the content they will teach. The four new courses are as follows: CI 5070 Advanced Study in Elementary School Mathematics CI 5075 Advanced Study in Elementary School Science CI 5080 Advanced Study in Elementary School Social Studies RE 5130 Teaching the Language Arts 1

2 CI 5525 Product of Learning has been substantially revisioned for candidates for the Master of Arts in Elementary Education Program. Candidates will take CI 5525 Product of Learning in the newly revised program. The major requirement for graduation and successful completion of this course is the development of an electronic Product of Learning. This assignment is introduced early in the sequence of coursework and is refined throughout the program. Upon completion of coursework, candidates deliver a presentation of their electronic Products of Learning to program faculty members and public school professionals. Artifacts for this product of learning must be aligned with the newly established North Carolina Teaching Standards and include assignments and rationale/reflections that support their mastery of the following: Teacher Leadership, Respectful Educational Environment, Content and Curriculum Expertise, Student Learning, and Reflection. Program assignments and assessments have been carefully crafted to align with these standards and to ensure candidates acquire the knowledge and skills to be effective teachers and advocates for students. Successful elementary candidates must demonstrate their abilities to contribute to the systematic, critical analysis of student learning in their classrooms and beyond. They must showcase their critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation while exhibiting their professional commitment to leadership. A rubric has been developed to assess this culminating project and evaluation data will be used for ongoing program review and improvement. The Product of Learning also includes a rigorous requirement that all elementary candidates must successfully write a summative reflection that analyzes and synthesizes their professional growth while enrolled in the Elementary Program. This reflection includes the requirement that artifacts included in the Product of Learning reflect the standards and be tied together rather than being a collection of seemingly unrelated products. B. Describe how public school partners were involved in the revisioning of the program and how they will be involved in the delivery and evaluation of the program. Public school partners have been involved in the work of the Elementary Education program. Special attention has been devoted to involving these partners in the recent re-visioning of the program. The PAC serves as an advisory board for the undergraduate and graduate Elementary Education programs, both on and off campus, housed in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. The primary purpose of this committee is to provide informative feedback to the Elementary Education program faculty regarding program. This includes recommending appropriate revisions to existing policies, procedures and practices; providing feedback on ideas and proposals; and reviewing program data to offer suggestions. The goals of this committee are as follows: Develop and maintain collaborative professional relationships between public school partners and universitybased colleagues for the improvement of the elementary teacher education programs. Develop and maintain quality teacher education programs that focus on innovative, research based, and effective practices. Develop and maintain quality teacher education programs that are aligned with national (NCATE) and state (NCDPI) standards and requirements. 2

3 Work as partners to extend and integrate field experiences with university course work to strengthen our ability to prepare and educate pre-service and practicing teachers. This group meets each semester and includes public school teachers, administrators, ASU students, and faculty. Currently, there are 16 members: 6 faculty which includes the two elementary education program coordinators and the department chair; 3 coordinators for off-campus programs; 4 teachers representing various diverse geographic locations; 1 public school administrator; 1 undergraduate student; and 1 graduate student representative. In addition to participation of the PAC, various constituencies from the public school communities of practice have participated in the overall re-visioning process on a continuing basis. Program coordinators, through the Graduate Studies Committee, and other graduate faculty representing the 12 graduate teacher education programs at ASU undergoing the re-visioning process were engaged, with expanded involvement, in the process through the RCOE Graduate Studies Committee. Sub-groups focusing on the North Carolina Standards for Graduate Teacher Candidates, 21st Century knowledge and skills and the courses for meeting these standards provided input to the larger groups and to the development of graduate-level blueprints. Advisory Councils to these graduate-level disciplines, as well as public school partners and practitioners were engaged at various levels of the revisioning and have had input and provided feedback. Through program area advisory councils, public school partners have participated in reviewing and providing suggestions for relevance, practicability, and alignment to state and national standards, as well as 21st Century learning principles. Input and feedback gained from these meetings were incorporated into program re-visioning and were also used in the subsequent development of the blueprints. In the Fall 2010 semester, some select specialty areas/professors will pilot/use some of the assignments and/or projects identified as a part of the Product of Learning. Feedback and input will be solicited from the faculty teaching the courses, candidates taking the courses, and public school partners who work with our graduate level candidates in their respective practitioner settings. As is possible and feasible, faculty and practitioners will be expected to support and evaluate candidates efforts and then provide feedback back to the program areas about the feasibility, authenticity, and quality of the assignment/project, particularly as they have the potential to positively impact student learning and development. Public school partners will be also be involved in reviewing the assignments and assessment instruments/rubrics designated as a component of the POL. Feedback/input from faculty, candidates and practitioners will be reviewed and changes made as warranted for ongoing improvement of the course, assignments and assessment methods. Professional development will be provided for faculty and selected practitioners on the purpose and expectations for the POL and for its assessment. To assess reliability of the rubric, faculty, along with a sample of these master teachers, will evaluate the assignments for the POL and, as needed, the assignments/components to be presented in the POL. Evaluations will be compared with evaluations of the same projects by program faculty and practitioners. These comparisons and subsequent substantive conversations about the language of the rubric will be used to revise the rubric as warranted and develop further or ongoing training as needed for faculty, candidates, and practitioners. As possible or needed, other pilots will follow in spring With this feedback from various stakeholders, the POL rubric will be revised as needed prior to fall Communication of expectations for the re-visioned graduate programs will occur in summer 2011 for our partner practitioners and for our candidates entering in fall In addition, public school input for the overall revisioning process was sought through: (1) the ASU-Public School Partnership and its various constituents; (2) the University Teacher Education Council, consisting of faculty representatives from almost all teacher education areas on campus, and selected public school representatives; (3) the Field Advisory Committee, consisting of 32 representatives from school districts; (4) the Governing Board of the Partnership, consisting of 8 public school superintendents; and, (5) the Partnership Coordinating Council, consisting of 25 central office personnel and teacher representatives from public schools as well as university faculty. Additional feedback was secured from the results of previous surveys of graduates employed as teachers in North Carolina schools as well as separate survey results from their mentors and principals. Program Advisory Committees consisting of public school representatives and faculty were also engaged in discussions centered on re-visioning. By nature of candidates completing their respective Product of Learning, public school partners will be deeply involved on an on-going basis. The POL serves to encapsulate, in a summative manner, a synthesis of program-wide learning and development that demonstrate to the profession the increased knowledge and competencies the candidate acquired from the program, as well the candidate s capacity to apply the lessons from the POL to efforts in improving student learning and development in the public schools. The POL will be presented to a panel/committee of university faculty and professional practitioners who will evaluate whether or not the POL is a satisfactory demonstration of competency for a master teacher leader, as well as how well state standards and expectations are met. Candidates will develop a POL that 3

4 demonstrate how their perspectives and practices of teaching have been transformed, based on their respective programs of study, key activities represented by artifacts developed in their programs of study, and reflections on their experiences in their graduate programs. 4

5 SECTION C SECTION C-I: Key Evidence(s) Name of Evidence Brief Description of Evidence Standards Addressed 1 Product of Learning The Product of Learning is a culminating project that demonstrates candidates competencies to meet standards for the Master of Arts in Elementary Education degree. The product consists of a series of artifacts from signature assessments (common program assessments) that document how candidates have achieved the standards of the program. Elementary candidates must write and present summative reflections analyzing and synthesizing their growth during the graduate program. They must demonstrate proficiency as elementary teacher leaders and advocates for research-verified elementary programs and practices for children. (1) Teacher Leadership (2) Respectful Educational Environments (3) Content & Curriculum Expertise (4) Student Learning (5) Reflection 5

6 SECTION C-2: Relationship of the Evidence to the Standards NORTH CAROLINA TEACHER STANDARD KEY EVIDENCE FROM SECTION C-1 DEMONSTRATING THE STANDARDS 1. TEACHERS LEADERSHIP Teacher leaders assume the roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders in schools and communities. Teachers demonstrate leadership in their classrooms, schools and professional organizations; they advocate for students and effective educational practices and policies; and they are role models for ethical leadership. Teacher leaders will know and be able to: Evidence 1: Product of Learning Demonstrate effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team building among colleagues. Facilitate mentoring and coaching with novice teachers. Set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning. Participate in professional learning communities. 2. RESPECTFUL EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT Teacher leaders model leadership by establishing a positive and productive environment for a diverse population of students, their families, and the community. Teachers are knowledgeable about cultures and global issues and how they are contextualized locally. Teachers help colleagues develop effective strategies for students with special needs. They encourage positive, constructive relations among colleagues and students. Teacher leaders: Evidence 1: Product of Learning Facilitate the development of inviting, respectful, supportive, inclusive, and flexible educational communities. Create collaborative partnerships with families, schools, and communities to promote a positive school culture. Facilitate and model caring and respectful treatment of individuals within the learning community. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of diverse world cultures and global issues. Encourage high expectations for all students. Collaboratively design and implement curriculum and instruction that is responsive to learner differences. 3. CONTENT AND CURRICULUM EXPERTISE 6

7 NORTH CAROLINA TEACHER STANDARD Teacher leaders have a deep knowledge of the subjects they teach and understanding of curriculum theory and development. They value collaboration and the interconnectedness of disciplines. They understand the importance of curriculum relevance in engaging students in content. Teacher leaders: KEY EVIDENCE FROM SECTION C-1 DEMONSTRATING THE STANDARDS Evidence 1: Product of Learning Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Model the integration of 21 st century content and skills into educational practices. Develop relevant, rigorous curriculum. 4. STUDENT LEARNING Teacher leaders facilitate student learning through evidence-based practice informed by research. They understand and apply research in child and adolescent development, cognitive development, and general and specialized pedagogy. They encourage critical reading, writing and thinking in the learning process. They foster instructional and evaluation methods that embrace variety and authenticity. They promote student reflection and self-assessment. They encourage colleagues and students to take on leadership roles and work in teams. Teacher leaders: Evidence 1: Product of Learning Seek out and use existing research to inform school practices. Design action research to investigate and improve student learning and school policies and practices. Model technology integration that supports student learning. Critically analyze student and school performance data to determine needs and plan instruction that is rigorous, coherent, and substantiated within a theoretical and philosophical base. 5. REFLECTION Teacher leaders contribute to systematic, critical analysis of learning in their classrooms and beyond. They are lifelong learners who model and support ongoing professional development. Teachers embrace critical thinking, problem solving, and innovation. Teacher leaders: Evidence 1: Product of Learning Promote an educational culture that values reflective practice. Model the development of meaningful professional goals. Model personal and professional reflection to extend student learning and school improvement 7

8 SECTION C-3: Detailed Description of Key Evidence(s) Name: Product of Learning Evidence #1 (Required) Specific Artifact(s): See the narrative below. Standard(s) Addressed by the Evidence: Standards 1-5 Rationale The primary purpose of the graduate teacher education programs in Appalachian State University is to prepare candidates to become better teachers and to enable their students in their respective classrooms to become better learners. It is well documented in research that strong instruction is a critical ingredient to improved student learning, along with strong instructionally focused leadership and a strong curriculum. Given that perspective, the rationale for the Elementary Education Graduate Program and the development of the Product of Learning Evidence is to document and verify the competency of graduate candidates and is centered on how teachers transform their perspectives and practices of teaching as well as their ability to impact student learning and development in positive and sustainable ways. Improving their teaching and, subsequently, improving the learning outcomes for their students in their classrooms are the outcomes we seek. Teachers granted the master s degree license are expected to be teacher leaders in their specialty area, to facilitate the creation of healthy educational environments, to have deep knowledge and skills in their content and curriculum, to use research in making decisions about effective practice for student learning, and to be continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation. Throughout the program, candidates will demonstrate that their work meets state standards and is aligned to 21 st Century knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Description of Evidence (and Supporting Artifacts) One can conceptualize the development of the Evidence in three stages: (1) Process; (2) Product; and (3) Reflection. The process stage encompasses the work candidates do in their respective programs of study so that they can learn ways to improve their teaching and the learning outcomes for their students, and to document their mastery of state standards. For the product stage, The Elementary Education Graduate Program uses the Product of Learning as the Evidence to demonstrate how graduate candidates have transformed their teaching and improved the conditions for student learning and development. The reflection stage, a component of the POL, is the culminating synthesis of the program and its effect on the candidate s teaching and student learning. Stage One Learning Process to Support Developing the Evidence The process stage encompasses the work candidates do in their respective programs of study in order that they can improve their teaching and the learning outcomes for their students. These assignments are completed in courses, assessed by professors in those courses, and are aligned to state standards. This work, collectively, serves as a series of enablers for candidates to accomplish the larger purpose intended for the POL Evidence. Required courses in each Graduate Program require key activities and assignments that lead to the construction of key artifacts that candidates complete that serve to inform the requirements for the Product of Learning (POL). In addition to their content and/or pedagogical requirements, these artifacts must document that candidates meet the five graduate teaching standards (Standard 5 is addressed in Stage Three). For example: 1. Teacher Leadership. Candidates construct a school improvement project (CI/LHE 5585 Teacher Leadership and School Improvement) where candidates write a detailed plan for school improvement and a summary of: (a) how the goals were determined (needs assessment), (b) how the project was implemented, (c) how data were analyzed, (d) how results were interpreted and reported, and (e) how the project was evaluated. The school 8

9 improvement project requires effective ongoing communication, collaboration, and team building among colleagues in professional learning communities as they set goals and establish priorities while promoting educational initiatives that positively affect student learning. These results are to be shared with teachers and administrators, as well as the School Improvement Team. 2. Respectful Educational Environments. Candidates complete a reflective diversity project (CI/SPE 5045 Advanced Topics in Diversity) that requires candidates to explore their own attitudes, biases, and gaps in knowledge about students cultural and learning differences. The project includes: (a) candidates personal reflection and identification of an area of cultural and/or learning differences, (b) a comprehensive research summary of the identified area of study, and (e) an action plan to implement change in the candidates classrooms and schools. In the school improvement project (CI/LHE 5585 Teacher Leadership and School Improvement), candidates will in some way, focus on an underserved population in their schools. This project may provide support, provide equity in schooling/learning, raise the level of achievement, or address a needed change in school environment. These school improvement plans and goals are to effect change in the educational environments of candidates schools. Example goals include (but are not limited to): (a) strengthen services to a given population (ELL, special education, AIG), (b) facilitate professional development for teachers to improve instruction/assessment for large groups of students while targeting specific need populations, (c) address the achievement gap for a given population (analyze data and implement strategies that will lead to an improvement), (d) create a support group for students with special needs, (e) create an opportunity/program that will provide support (tutoring from adults, peer mentoring in the classroom or across grade levels), (f) provide help by networking with agencies outside of the school, and (g) create opportunities or programs for parents (support to attend conferences, parent workshops, family nights). 3. Content and Curriculum Expertise. Candidates will complete a major assignment in each of the four content area courses (CI 5070, CI 5075, CI 5080, and RE 5130) as required by the MA in Elementary Education Program. For example, for an assignment created in the mathematics course, candidates examine a specific area in the curriculum that often lends itself to student misconceptions. Candidates research the misconception to understand content deficiencies that serve as a barrier to student understanding. Candidates then construct and conduct a diagnostic interview based on their findings and use these findings to modify their instruction. 4. Student Learning. Candidates complete an action research study using their own classrooms (CI/RE/RES 5040 Action Research in Educational Settings) designed to address classroom research questions appropriate for 21 st century content and skills. The research project will include a review of relevant literature, critical research question(s), methods, analyses, results, and discussion of the importance of the findings. At the conclusion of the research study, candidates are to present conclusions as to the beneficial effects of the study on student learning and development. For example, candidates may change their instructional practices based on the results of their action research projects in CI/RE/RES 5040, or on the implementation of the school improvement initiatives from CI/LSA Reflection. Candidates complete numerous assignments over the course of their program that demonstrate evidence of reflective practice. For example, in the assessment course candidates will create an artifact where they will critically analyze student learning in their classrooms. Candidates in our MA in Elementary Education Program will include in the artifacts evidence of how the candidates teaching, classroom environment, and student learning were influenced by the work in these assignments. While these artifacts are an essential part for completing the Evidence, they are not, in and of themselves, the Evidence. They enable candidates to complete their Product of Learning. Stage Two Product of Learning The Elementary Education Graduate Program uses the Graduate Product of Learning (POL) as the evidence to demonstrate how graduate candidates have transformed their perspectives and practices of teaching and, consequently, improved the conditions for student learning and development, and met the five professional teaching standards. The POL is constructed during the POL course that graduate candidates complete in our MA in Elementary Education Program. In this capstone course, candidates will assemble a POL that represents the candidates programs of study, key activities represented by artifacts, and reflections of how the experiences in the 9

10 Elementary Education Graduate Program enabled the candidates to meet the five graduate teaching standards and how the program transformed the candidates perspectives and practices of teaching. The product of learning consists of a series of artifacts and reflections that document how candidates have achieved the program goals of becoming leaders in their educational settings. Teachers granted the master s degree license are expected to be teacher leaders in their specialty area, to facilitate the creation of healthy educational environments, to have deep knowledge and skills in their content and curriculum, to use research in making decisions about effective practice for student learning, and to be continuous, reflective practitioners who model the values of lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem-solving and innovation. Required courses in our Elementary Education Graduate Program require key activities that lead to the construction of key artifacts that candidates select to include in their POL to represent how the teaching standards were met and how the candidates teaching was transformed. These artifacts will be organized in the POL to provide evidence that candidates meet the five graduate teaching standards. Candidates will write detailed rationales about how the selected artifacts provide evidence for meeting the program goals, including evidence of how the candidates teaching, classroom environment, and student learning has been transformed through the experiences of the master s program. The POL will be completed and assessed in the culminating Product of Learning course. Stage Three Reflection Reflection. Candidates will write a reflection synthesizing and explaining how experiences in their respective Graduate Program transformed their knowledge about their disciplinary content and student learning, their perspective and practice of assessment and instruction, and their interaction with colleagues and their students. Data that support improved learning from their students will be included in this reflection. Where appropriate in the written reflections for each standard, candidates will describe how a key concept or activity learned in a graduate class was appropriated by the candidates and used in their own teaching. For example, candidates who changed their instructional practices based on the results of their action research projects in CI/RE/RES 5040 should include that in the reflection or based on implementing school improvement initiatives. Evaluation of the POL Prior to graduation, elementary education candidates will present their POL to at least two program area faculty and one public school practitioner, who will evaluate whether each standard has been met based on the rubric. There is an evaluation system created for recording the scores for each evaluation and saving the results into a searchable database. The POL will be evaluated with a common rubric that has been created that assesses candidates growth as well as their meeting standards. (Due to space limitation it will only be summarized here.) The rubric asks for identification of the reviewer and the candidate. How the Evidence meets each standard is scored on a three-point scale: 0 Does Not Meet Standard: Evidence does not have accompanying rationale-reflection that adequately addresses standard and/or evidence does not address standard adequately. 1 Meets Standard: Rationale-reflection adequately addresses standard by justifying how the evidence demonstrates standard. Evidence reflects standard sufficiently. 2 Target: Rationale-reflection provides insightful, in-depth support to justify the selection and value of evidence. Standard is clearly and thoroughly addressed and supported by the evidence, reflecting advanced teacher knowledge and performance. Program faculty will evaluate each candidate s POL. Each candidate must score at least 1 for each standard, or the candidate will be asked to rework the POL until such passing scores are reached. With five standards being assessed, the passing scores range from 5 to 10, with 10 being considered outstanding. For each candidate the initial two faculty evaluations will be entered into the database (total score 0-10) creating two records for the candidate. Nonpassing scores will also be recorded with a note that the candidate was asked to rework the POL; in these cases, another three faculty/practitioner scores will be entered when the POL is submitted again for review. Directions for Candidate 10

11 At the orientation for new graduate candidates, the program coordinator introduces the POL to candidates and explains how as they journey through the experiences in the Elementary Education Master s Program they need to save meaningful activities (artifacts) in electronic formats. They are told that at the conclusion of the program, they will be asked to reflect on the program and their experiences in it, especially focusing on how the program impacts their teaching and their students learning. They are introduced to the five graduate teaching standards and the identified key artifacts that address them, so that they understand the importance of those activities as they engage in them. They will be reminded in a course that houses a key artifact that they should think about the activity as one they will use as part of the POL. In the CI5525 Product of Learning, a course taught as three 1 semester credit hours courses taken during their program of study, candidates are directed in the construction of the POL. Its purpose and the standards that are to be addressed are reviewed in detail, and explicit instructions on specific artifacts and reflections are provided. The candidates are given a copy of the standards and indicators. Candidates discuss each standard and indicators and brainstorm ideas about what key experiences address these standards. Candidates are given a list of the five standards with key activities (artifacts) identified (see list above), and they review completed POLs. Specifically, candidates are provided the following instructions: Written Directions. You will create a POL based on the five standards we have discussed and listed in your template. Your main goal is to provide evidence that you have clearly met each of the standards. Further, it is imperative that you meet a variety of indicators under each standard. For each standard, you will provide a clearly stated rationale -reflection for how your selected artifact(s) demonstrate how you have met that standard. Writing the Rationale-Reflection: A rationale is a thoughtful persuasive argument about how your artifact(s) demonstrate that you have met the five standards. After you have named and briefly described the artifact(s) for each standard, write a convincing exposition giving reasons why and how the artifact(s) demonstrates your competency of the standard. Be sure to explain how it shows your competence of some of the indicators. A reflection explains how the artifact(s) has changed or reinforced your knowledge, attitudes, and practices. A rationale-reflection then serves both functions: demonstrating how an artifact shows the candidate s proficiency in meeting the standard and how explaining how developing the artifact transformed the candidate s thinking and practice. Be sure that the text explicitly connects the standard and indicators. Do not use generalizations. Use language from the standard and specific references to the artifact(s). Synthesis Reflection. You will write a synthesis reflection of the experiences you had in this graduate program. This reflection synthesizes your learning while enrolled in the master s program, and it should be comprehensive and include specific information from artifacts, experiences, readings, and classes. Your synthesis reflection should include examples where experiences in the Elementary Education Master s Program changed how you think about student learning and your teaching. D. Timeline for implementation and transition plan. 1. October 2010 Submit proposal to Department of Public Instruction for review and anticipated approval and begin the formal process for seeking institutional approval for curriculum changes. 2. Fall 2011 Semester Begin offering the new revisioned curriculum and requiring candidates to use the new assessment process. Decisions about candidates who began the degree programs in previous semesters will be made on an individual basis depending on how far they have progressed under their original degree requirements. 11

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