Glossary of Terms

Above Grade Level:    A student is said to be performing ‘above grade level’ when they are demonstrating and understanding the skills and concepts above the expected level of instruction for their age and previous education. An above-grade level student is performing many skills and concepts that are taught in the next grade level.

Academic Achievement Standards:    Expected performance of students on measures of academic achievement. For example, "all students will score at least 76% correct on the district developed performance-based assesment."

Achievement Matters Most:    A plan for Maryland Public Schools meant to help achieve the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Activities:    The overall approach or specific strategies the PIRC is using to meet your objectives. For example, a media campaign or disseminating information through teacher newsletters are examples of PIRC activities.

Accelerated and Enriched Instruction (AEI):   Accelerated and Enriched instruction is provided to students who have been identified as gifted and talented in elementary and middle school. Accelerated instruction allows students to move through the curriculum at a faster pace and with increased challenges than when the normal grade level instruction is delivered. Enriched instruction provides opportunities for students to learn in greater depth and includes a greater range of experiences that require students to apply their knowledge and creativity. Typically, students are flexibly grouped by instructional level within mixed classes to receive AEI.

Advanced Standing:    Placement into a higher-level course without completing a lower-level course

American College Testing (ACT):    Test that asseses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college level work.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP):    Statewide accountability system mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It indicates whether schools, districts, and states are on target with all groups of students, and identifies which schools and groups of students need the most help.

Alternate Maryland School Assessment (ALT-MSA):    An assesment designed for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to participate in regular assesment, even when accomodations are provided.

Alternative Schools:    Schools whose educational philosophies are different from traditional programs. Alternative schools tend to have small classes, a social and emotional development curriculum and a self-paced academic curriculum.

Advanced Placement Program (AP):    Program that offers high school students the opportunity to receive university credit for their work during high school.

At-Risk Student:     Term used to describe a student whose educational experiences are endangered as a result of some adverse condition in his life. At-risk students may have socioeconomic disadvantages, minority status, learning or physical disabilities, dysfunctional families, or histories of malnutrition or poverty.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD):    Attention deficit disorder but without the hyperactive components or symptoms.

Below Grade Level:    A student is said to be performing ‘above grade level’ when they are NOT demonstrating and understanding of the skills and concepts at the expected level of instruction for their age.

Bilingual Education:    An educational program in which two languages are used to provide the content matter instruction.

Bilingual Literacy:    The ability to effectively communicate or understand thoughts and ideas through two languages, grammatical systems and vocabularies, using their written symbols.

CDA Maryland Mortgage Program:    Program that provides low interest mortgage loans to eligible homebuyers with low-to-moderate-income households through private lending institutions and througout the State of Maryland.

Charter Schools:    Public schools that are liberated from some of the traditional school regulations required by the State. Enrollment is voluntary and is not governed by neighborhood boundaries.

Cluster:   A high school and all its corresponding middle and elementary schools.

Clearinghouses     provide a central location for the collection, organization, storage and dissemination of information related to a specific topic area. Examples include, but are not limited to, the clearinghouse on rural education and small schools, clearinghouse on elementary and early childhood education, and the ERIC clearinghouse.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP):    Examinations that cover material taught in courses that most students take as requirements in the first two years of college. A college usually grants the same amount of credit to students earning satisfactory scores on these examinations as it grants to students successfully completing that course.

Cognitive Development:    The construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood.

Community Meetings:     refer to events such as open forums and town hall meetings.

Consortium of Schools:   A group of several school clusters that join together to provide a greater range of educational options to high school students living in the attendance areas of the participating schools.

Childcare Resources and Referral Centers (CCR&R):     Maryland regional centers that make up the Maryland Childcare Resource Networks providing services designed to improve the quality, availability and affordability of childcare throughout the state of Maryland.

Curriculum:    All courses of study offered by an educational institution.

Descriptive, i.e., frequencies and counts, perceptions     uses basic information to describe the number of participants receiving services and their characteristics (e.g., income, education level, and number of participants). Data is often collected using surveys or interviews to gather the participants' perceptions/attitudes about services received and usefulness of materials.

Differentiated Instruction:    Instruction that is adapted to fit the learning needs of students with different learning styles, levels of achievement and motivation

Disability:    A condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or their group. The term is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, or mental disorder.

Discrimination:    Unfair treatment of a person or group in the basis of prejudice.

Early childhood parenting education (ECPE)     refers to services and programs offered to parents with children between birth to five years of age.

Early Literacy Screening Tools:    Tools that can help you monitor your child's progress towards developing and acquiring literacy concepts and skills.

Educational Management Team (EMT):   The Educational Management Team (EMT) comprises educators, parents and other individuals at the request of parents or staff that meet to discuss a student’s academic and behavioral progress and devise plans to improve that progress.

Education Professionals    are defined as teachers or other school staff, early childhood education staff, PAT and/or HIPPY staff and coordinators, school administrators, district staff (e.g., superintendent, assistant superintendent, Title I coordinator, curriculum coordinator, and family and community coordinator), higher education faculty (e.g., Department of Education, Department of Psychology, Department of Human Development, and Department of Family Studies), or other individual that is employed by or primarily associated with an educational organization.

Elementary School:   School that provides instruction to students in grade K-5. All students receive instruction in the core areas of reading/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, as well as in health and physical education, art and music.

English Language Learners (ELL):    Students whose first language is not English and who are in the process of learning English.

English As a Second Language (ESL):    An educational approach in which English Language Learners are instructed in the use of the English Language.

English for Speakers Of Other Languages (ESOL):   An instructional program for students whose native language is not English. Students are tested in their understanding and proficiency level in English and evaluated for what services may be required to ensure that they learn the academic language needed for success in the classroom.

English Language Proficiency (ELP):    A language minority student's English Language Proficiency is his or her level of attainment of skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension in the English language. English Language Proficiency level is determined by a formal assessment that identifies students with an a proficiency level ranging from 1 through 5.

Ethnicity:    A term which represents social groups with a shared history, sense of identity, geography and cultural roots which may occur despite racial difference.

Ethnographic/Case study:     Provides in-depth narrative on one or a small number of participants.

Evidence of outcomes     provides evidence of what happened as a result of implementing your PIRC activities. Evidence can include both outputs (e.g. number of parents receiving a newsletter; number of attendees at meetings) and outcomes (e.g., changes in knowledge, skill and/or behavior as a result of participating in a PIRC service).

Experimental/Randomized Control Trial (RCT)     is a design using random assignment to intervention and control groups. The intervention group(s) may be receiving additional or enhanced services, while the control group(s) receives no additional or enhanced services. Results compare progress of the groups on common outcome measures.

Expulsion:    The removal of a student until the end of the semester or year. On an expulsion, you have a right to a formal hearing with a lawyer who can often be found at a Legal Aid Office.

Factor Analysis:   Summarizes information contained in a large number of variables and condenses it into a smaller number of factors containing variables that are interrelated.

Focus Group:     Refers to the collection of data in a group setting, (e.g., parents and/or teachers). Typically completed in a group discussion format with a small number of individuals.

Foreign-Born Information and Referral Network (FIRN):    Seeks to assist recent immigrants in the process of becoming American citizens.

Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE):    Law that requires that all children be educated at the public's expense and in an appropiate educational program according to his or her needs.

Free and Reduced-Priced Meals System (FARMS):   Provides free or reduced-priced lunch and breakfast to students from low-income families.

Gifted and Talented (G/T):   Refers to both an identification of certain students, and instructional program models for students who have been screened and identified as being more motivated, and able to receive accelerated and enriched instruction. Students identified as gifted and talented are those students who are able to perform on an accelerated and advanced level, understanding and applying skills and concepts in more depth and detail. Screening occurs countrywide for all students in 2 nd grade at their elementary school.

Goals:     Broad, global statements that define what you want to accomplish. For example, 'To increase parents' understanding of State accountability systems' is a goal statement.

Grade Level:   The level of instruction taught to a student for an academic year. A student is said to be ‘on grade level’ when they are demonstrating an understanding of instruction at the expected level of instruction for their age and previous education history.

Grouping:   In order to provide instruction to students at their instructional level and motivation, students are typically flexibly grouped by instructional level within mixed classes. Additional grouping occurs in math classes and for those students identified as Gifted and Talented for certain classes.

Growth Curve Analysis:     Establishes a growth trajectory for participants over a period of time. This analysis represents repeated measures of dependent variables as a function of time and other measures. It is often used to identify systematic change or growth in a particular area.

Handicapped:    A person having a physical or mental impairment, expected to be of long or indefinite duration, that substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities so that person is unable to live independently.

Hard-to-Reach Parent:   Rrefers to, but is not limited to, parents who are geographically isolated, economically disadvantaged, belong to a minority, have limited English proficiency, and those with disabilities.

Head Start:    A federally funded child development program that serves low-income preschoolers and their families. Its overall goal is to help children to be ready to attend and thrive at school.

Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM):     An advanced form of regression, which allows variance in outcome variables to be analyzed at multiple levels. An example nesting parents by type of agency providing services.

High School:   School that provides instruction to students in grades 9 to 12. Every high school provides a comprehensive program of studies to prepare students in grades 9 to 12 for college and other post-secondary studies and employment. In addition to all courses required for a Maryland diploma, all high schools offer Honors, advanced level and Advanced Placement courses to provide more challenging studies for motivated students and enhance opportunities for college acceptance and success. Elective courses are available in English, science, math, social studies, art, business, career, health, physical education, technology education, computer science, foreign languages; music, theater and television production.

Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY):     Refers to a specific program model. HIPPY is a parent involvement and school readiness program that has been operating in the United States since 1984. HIPPY is also implemented in several other countries. It offers home based early childhood education for three, four and five year old children working with their parent(s) as their first teacher. The parent is provided with a set of carefully developed materials, curriculum and books designed to strengthen their children's cognitive skills, early literacy skills, and social/emotional and physical development. More information about the model is available at www.hippyusa.org.

Homeschooling:    When students between the ages of 5 and 17 are taught at home, typically by their parents.

Immersion Program:    Spanish and French programs in which a second language is taught via content-based instruction. In these programs, little time is spent focusing on the formal aspects of the second language.

Immigration Status:    This is the immigration classification INS gives international visitors when they enter the US (such as F-1 /J-1 status). Under certain circumstances, individuals can apply for a change of immigration status within the United States. Students and scholars who wish to change their status should consult with the International Office.

Individual Education Plan (IEP):    A written document, prepared annually for each special education student at a school by a special education teacher, in consultation with parents and other school staff. The document outlines goals for the students as well as ways in which the school will accommodate and support the student's special needs.

Individual Interviews:     One-on-one sessions guided by a set of questions and open responses.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA):    Federal law that requires that schools provide all students that have disabilities with "free appropiate public education."

Informal Care:    Care by parent(s) or relative(s).

Instructional Council:   Team of instructional leaders within a school that is responsible for helping to direct and improve instruction to enhance achievement for all students.

Interdisciplinary Instruction:   Instruction that involves studying different aspects of the same topic in more than one discipline and making connections among these diverse disciplines.

Interrupted Time Series:     A design only using one group to examine the impact of an intervention. The group is pre- and post-tested multiple times before the intervention and again during and after the intervention. The measurement intervals vary depending upon the study and are not at regular and consistent times. All participants receive the same services and programs.

Least Restrictive Environment:    Law that states that children with certain handicaps or dissabilities have the right to be educated with non-handicapped children to the maximum extent possible.

Limited English Proficient:     Defined as 1) a person who meets one or more of the following conditions: a) was born outside of the United States or whose native language is not English; b) who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; or c) who is an American Indian or Alaskan Native and comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on his/her level of English language proficiency; and 2) has sufficient difficulty speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language.

Literacy:    Set of abilities needed to understand and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture - alphabets, numbers, visual icons - for personal and community development.

Local Education Agency (LEA):     Refers to the local school district or parish the PIRC may be working with to identify families and services for delivery.

Low-Income Status  of a family refers to those families that are at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Families and/or families with children that qualify for free or reduced school lunch programs, Head Start, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) programs, low-income or Section VIII housing and/or state aid for dependent families are generally considered to be low-income.

Magnet Schools:    Schools where there is a particular focus, such as art or technology, or follow a different structural organization, such as mixing grade levels within one classroom, or operating a year-round schedule. They are not governed by neighborhood boundaries, they draw students from throughout the school district.

Mainstreaming:   Placing students with special needs into regular education classes for part or all of the school day.

Major:    Indicates the chosen field of study or discipline that a student will focus on for their bachelor's degree. For most disciplines, course requirements for the major will mainly be taken during the third and fourth years of study, but some disciplines also have lower-division requirements, particularly in the natural sciences, engineering and business.

Marking Period:   Nine weeks of study, at the end of which students receive report cards. There are 4 marking periods in the academic year.

Maryland Content Standards:   What students should know and be able to do in each subject area by specific grade levels.

Maryland Office for New Americans (MONA):    Provides suppport and services to refugees to ease their transition into American society, and serves as a resource to the Governor and General Assembly on refugee and immigrant policy.

Maryland Report Card:    Annual report card that evaluates by school and by county how a particular school is performing in attendance, test scores, graduation rates, etc.

Maryland School Assessment (MSA):    Test of reading and math achievements for grades 3rd through 8th that meets the testing requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum:    A curriculum that defines what students should learn in each subject and grades for teachers and parents.

Matched Comparison Groups:   Refers to a design that does not use random assignment to groups, (i.e., control and intervention). Instead participants in the control and intervention groups are matched on identified characteristics, (e.g., income, geographic location, and English proficiency). Results compare the groups while accounting for the matched characteristics.

Middle School:   School that provides instruction to students in grades 6 to 8. All middle schools offer academic programs, elective courses, sports and extracurricular activities, and special programs to address the academic, social, and emotional needs of early adolescence.

Minority:     Defined as any racial/ethnic group that is non-white. Racial/ethnic is a classification indicating general racial or ethnic heritage based on self-identification (as in Bureau of Census data collection), or observer identification (as in Office for Civil Rights data collection). The following categories are in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget standard classification scheme: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, and White.

Multicultural Education:    The process of developing student awareness of and sensitivity to various cultures as well as an understanding of the similarities and differences across cultures.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):    Organization that seeks to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination by ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of every individual.

National Education Association (NEA):    A volunteer-based organization advocating for public schools. It is supported by a network of staff at the local, state and national levels.

National Origin Discrimination:    Unfair treatment of an individual because of birthplace, ancestry and culture common to a specific ethnic group; including discrimination against persons with limited English.

Nationality:    The status of belonging to a particular nation, whether by birth or naturalization.

Neighborhood Schools:    Each public school district sets up its own rules and boundaries for each school in the district.

No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)/Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):    This federal legislation mandates that schools give parents the tools they need to support their children's learning in the home, communicate regularly with families about children's academic progress, provide opportunities for family workshops, and offer parents chances to engage in parent leadership activities at the school site.

One-to-One Contact:     Refers to PIRC staff working directly with parents. Examples include, but are not limited to, conferences, and home visits.

Other Organizations and Agencies:    Refers to, but is not limited to, youth development organizations, health agencies, social services, and advocacy groups.

Parents:    Includes a biological or adoptive parent, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or guardian (e.g., foster parent, grandparent, stepparent).

Parents as Teachers (PAT):     Refers to a specific program model. PAT is an international early childhood parent education and family support program serving families throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten, usually age 5. The program is designed to enhance child development and school achievement through parent education accessible to all families. More information about the model is available at www.patnc.org.

Parent Liaison:    Parent who represents the interest of parents in a school.

Parents as Essential Partners (PEP) and Maryland State Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC):    Parents as Essential Partners (PEP), the Maryland State Parental Information Resource Center (PIRC), is designed to assist Maryland parents and educators to address issues related to family involvement and closing the achievement gap.

Parent Conferences:   A meeting between a student’s teacher and their parent/guardian to discuss the academic progress of the student. A typical conference is 15-20 minutes.

Portfolio:   A collection of a student’s work in a variety of subjects.

Pre-Assessment:   A way to determine what students know about a topic before it is taught, usually a quiz or test of some sort.

Preferred Choice:   A process by which students living the attendance area of a consortium rank their order of preference for a high school within the consortium.

Primary Schools:    Primary or elementary education consist of the first years of formal, structured education that occurs during childhood, usually it is grades K-5th.

Private Schools:    Schools that do not receive funding from the state whose parents pay tuition. The schools set up their own criteria for admission, decide upon curriculum, teaching methodology, and enrollment requirements. Private schools are not required to hire credentialed teachers.

Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test - (PSAT):    A test that measures critical reading, math problem solving, and writing skills. The PSAT is an indicator of how a student will perform on the SAT.

Public Law 94-142 or IDEA:    The Individual with Disabilities Education Act, provides for equal access to education for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination based on physical or mental disability in programs or activities receiving federal funds.

Purchase of Care (POC):    Childcare subsidy program that helps limited-income families pay for childcare while parents work or attend school or job training programs.

Public School Choice (PSC):    An option for students in schools in need of improvement to transfer to other designated public schools in their districts. The school districts are required to provide transportation for these students. Priority is given to low-income students.

Regression Discontinuity:     Uses pre- and post-test scores as a means of comparison. Scores on the pre-test identify group membership based on a pre-determined cut-off score. The main difference between this design and the RCT and matched comparisons is the method used for group assignment.

Report Card:   The official report to parents of the grades students received for their subjects following a marking period; issued 4 times a year. Report cards reflect academic performance compared to grade-level or course standards in each subject. Report cards also contain evaluations of work/study skills.

Representatives from Local Youth Organizations:    Refers to staff from social service, health, advocacy, youth development, early childhood development, and other child serving agencies/organizations, such as Parent Teacher Association, Parent/School Network, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United Way, Community Mental Health, and Juvenile Justice.

RSA 186:11 :    Mandates that the Commissioner of Education ensures protection from discrimination in public schools on the basis of sex, race, religion, color, marital status, national origin, or disability.

RSA 193-F:3 :    Mandates that each school board adopt a pupil safety and violence prevention policy that addresses pupil harassment or "bullying."

Rural:     Does not have a set definition for the purposes of this report. Each PIRC is responsible for defining rural within the context of their program. One common definition, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, is any area not classified as urban.

SAT & SAT II:    Set of standarized college entrance examinations.Most colleges and universities use the scores to predict how well a prospective student will perform in college. The SAT II tests are given to find out how much students know about a particular subject area.Some colleges do not require students to take SAT II subject tests at all.

School Choice:     A public school program that allows students to choose to attend any of various participating private and public schools, usually based on a system of vouchers or scholarships.

Schools in Need of Improvement:    A school that has not made Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years on the same accountability measure while receiving Title I funds. Secondary Schools Provide secondary education directly after primary education (such as intermediate school or elementary school). Secondary schools include middle schools from 6th through 12th grade.

School Personnel:     Defined as teachers, counselors, school board members, clerical staff, administrators, school nurses, extra curricular activity facilitators, and other positions relating to students.

Screening:   A method of testing and evaluating a student to determine placement in an educational program or to identify specific learning needs. Screening is done countrywide at the primary grade level to evaluate and identify students as gifted and talented.

Section 504 Accommodations:   Students who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, including learning; may be eligible for certain accommodations under section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Examples of impairments include severe attention problems, severe allergies, cerebral palsy, diabetes and epilepsy. The accommodations, which apply to students in a regular classroom setting, may include assistance and additional time to complete tests and assignments.

Single-Subject, i.e., Multiple Baseline, Treatment Reversal:     Refers to a study focusing on one individual or one group whose behavior is consistently measured during or while receiving an intervention and while not receiving an intervention, (e.g., every other day or once a week). Baseline behaviors are established and the individual/group are exposed to the treatment and behaviors are measured again.

Special Education:   An instructional program that serves students with a wide range of disabilities in general education schools throughout the country, six special centers, and nonpublic, special education schools. Services are available to children from birth through the end of the year in which they turn age 21.

State Family Involvement Policy:    Policy that supports school leaders, families, and communities to collaborate on improving children's education.

State School Improvement:    An initiative, formerly called the High-Poverty Schools Initiative, comprised of projects aimed at increasing the capacity of state education agencies to work with local districts toward improving student performance in high-poverty schools. Student Record Records directly related to a student and maintained by a Laboratory for Student Success (LSS), institution, or by a party acting for the agency or institution.

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM):     A statistical technique for building and testing causal models. This technique allows user to estimate variables that cannot be measured directly and estimates the relationship between multiple independent and dependent variables.

Student Service Learning (SSL):   Service learning is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. The state of Maryland requires high school students to engage in service learning as a requirement for high school graduation. Each of the 24 school districts implement the service learning graduation requirement differently, because they tailor the specifics of their program to their local community.

Subcontractor:     Refers to having a contract in place with an outside agency, or individual (i.e., consultant) to provide either one-to-one contact and/or training and technical assistance.

Supplementary Education Services (SES):    Free tutoring services that must be offered to low income children who attend a Title I school that fails to make academic progress for three years.

Survey:     The collection of data from a specific group, (e.g., parents and/or teachers) to obtain information such as attitudes, beliefs and opinions. Typically use ratings scale(s) and completed by the respondent.

Suspension:    The removal of a student from school for a relatively short period of 10 days or less.

The Down payment and Settlement Expense Loan Program (DSELP):    A program used in conjunction with the Maryland Mortgage Programs that offers 0% deferred loans up to $5,000 for downpayment and settlement costs to low-and-moderate-income homebuyers.

The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI):    Organization dedicated to improve and protect the lives of African American children. The organization seeks to improve child welfare services, build family support services, press for educational reform and provide information on children's health.

Time Series Comparison:     Utilizes a sequence of data points, measured at successive times, spaced at (often uniform) time intervals from two groups. A comparison of the group scores is conducted and provides information on important differences between the groups.

Title I:    Federally-funded program to help educationally disadvantaged youth. Its current focus is on schoolwide improvement and stronger partnerships among educators, parents and communities. Title I funds are distributed nationally and allocated by districts to schools based on their numbers of low-income students.

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972:    Prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:    Prohibits discrimination in schools based on race, color, and national origin.

Training and Technical Assistance:     Includes, but is not limited to, workshops, and parent training sessions provided by PIRC staff.

Unlawful Discrimination:    Occurs when an individual is denied access to education or is harassed in an educational setting based on sex, race, religion, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, pregnancy, age, national origin, or sexual orientation.

Urban:     Does not have a set definition for the purposes of this report. Each PIRC is responsible for defining urban within context of their program. The U.S. Census Bureau defines urban as a densely settled area of at least 2,500 people and up to 50,000 people.

Virtual Schools:    Online educational services provided by organizations to students with diverse academic needs. The Federal Office of Innovation and Improvement supports virtual schools as part of the "supplemental educational service provision" under the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act.

Vouchers programs:    Scholarships that allow parents to send their children to either religious or non-religious private or public schools depending on each programs eligibility criteria.

These definitions and descriptions were provided by the Maryland State Department of Education, EdTrust, and greatschools.net (2007).


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