National Standards causes decline in educational levels

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, December 7th, 2017 - 30 comments
Categories: accountability, education, national, Politics, same old national, schools, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: ,

If you ask a Primary School teacher what has been the most retrograde step the last Government took in the education sector it would be National Standards.

It sounded great. Instant ranking of your kid amongst their peers so you would know if they were going to be a brain surgeon or a factory hand. Perfect opportunity for the anxious rich and middle class to make sure that their kids got ahead and if they were not getting ahead then things could be done to help.

But teachers hated it. They had to spend so much time testing and collating and inputting data. They had to deal with anxious parents who were upset their kids were not doing as well as they thought they should be doing, and kids who hated doing assessment after assessment. They complained because all this testing and assessing and data collection was stopping them from teaching which is actually the thing that teachers want to do.

They were really concerned that all this testing and assessing and stressing was affecting the quality of education their kids should have been getting. And they were right.

From Radio New Zealand:

Teachers and principals are blaming the national standards in reading, writing and maths for a sudden drop in 10-year-olds’ scores in an international reading test.

For the past 15 years, New Zealand’s average score in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study was static at about 530 points, but in the most recent round of testing it fell from 531 points to 523.

New Zealand’s ranking in the study also fell, from 23rd to 33rd out of 50 countries.

And from the coalface:

The president of the teacher union, the Educational Institute, Lynda Stuart said the standards were to blame because they took the joy out of many classes after they were introduced in 2010.

“The creativity has actually gone and we know that creativity helps children to learn within that literacy and numeracy area.”

Principals Federation president Whetu Cormick also blamed the standards for the drop.

“The profession has always been fearful that with the narrowing of the curriculum that we would see a slip,” he said.

“Many would argue that when you fixate on a particular area, kids are going to switch off and this is what has happened. Children are being relentlessly pushed in reading, writing and maths.”

And if you want a clear example showing how cynical the introduction of National Standards was then National’s early decisions when its last term of Government started provide plenty of evidence.

In 2012 I wrote this:

The Government was urged [in the 2008 Briefing to Incoming Ministers] to continue with professional development programs.  The Numeracy Development Project, established in 2000, had resulted in significant improvements. Between 2002 and 2007 the percentage of Year 6 students achieving at or above the expected level in mathematics increased from 40 percent to 61 percent while the percentage classified as at risk decreased from 30 percent to 13 percent.  The Literacy Strategy, also established in 2000, also saw significant improvements.  A 2008 evaluation showed that after taking into account expected growth and maturation, students’ gains in reading and writing were twice those that could be expected without the intervention and that schools accelerated the rate of progress for the majority of the at-risk students by four times the expected rate. 

So what happened to the recommendations?  In Budget 2009 then Minister Ann Tolley gave private schools $35 million extra funding, announced the roll out of National Standards while at the same time cut funding for the literacy and numeracy projects despite their effectiveness. If she wanted to do something for literacy and numeracy she would have not done this.  She was looking to appease National Supporters and introduce testing for PR purposes at the cost of two quality programs.

With the benefit of hindsight it is clear that the concerns of the Public Service were totally justified.  And cutting quality programmes, giving the money to private schools and then foisting National Standards on us were the wrong things to do.

Of course National Standards may have not been the only cause.  Increasing child poverty no doubt also had an effect.

Thanks National for putting political gain ahead of what is best for our kids. Again.

30 comments on “National Standards causes decline in educational levels”

  1. Cinny 1

    For years and years teachers have told the government that national standards are not working, government have refused to listen.

    Now post election data like this comes out, thank goodness we have a new Government who does listen to the teachers and the people.

    A big thanks to all who voted for change, the children of NZ will be better for it, so will the schools and our wonderful educators.

    Thanks Micky for your excellent post

  2. Incognito 2

    This poorly designed and ill-fated experiment with National Standards lasted about 7 years. It could have been a lot worse if National had again been elected into Government but luckily they were voted out. Meanwhile, thousands of children do and will suffer the consequences of these neoliberal brain farts for a very long time.

    • greywarshark 2.1

      What is more we must see that National never get back in again, and just use that possibility as a stick to wave at Labour if they don’t produce adequate policy that gets properly implemented and monitored. We know how determined the Gnats can be now, and the wealthy who on the smell of an oily rag that promises some high gains for themselves, will abandon a working system that meets most needs but requires revision and ‘reboring’ to get it working at top speed.

      You can lose all you have gained if you don’t watch what’s happening and believe some smart-talker with a cohort of shadowy figures in suits and PhDs which they wear as a badge of brotherhood (sisters allowed). 1984-2017 – have we gained our PhDs in how to be a seasoned citizen voter on all things political.

      (Listen to how The Smart One handles Lisa’s hard question about 2.30m)

  3. David Mac 3

    There are more forces at play than National Standards.

    Truancy is rising. I was surprised to read that currently 55.9% of children in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate do not meet the threshold considered to be Regular Attendance. (present for more than 75% of half days)

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/93846273/national-decline-in-the-number-of-students-attending-school-regularly-report-shows

    • JanM 3.1

      Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    • Tricledrown 3.2

      Unfortunately your argument has been researched overseas.
      The UK govt a Toy govt found that National Standards caused a decline in literacy as in 2008 the dropped it finding without National Standards literacy improved rather than declined.
      The Tory govt found it was an expensive waste of money.

  4. JanM 4

    I have no time whatsoever for the National Party and all who sail in her, but I still struggle with the level of uncaring cynicism that was prepared to sacrifice the education and wellbeing of our children for a deeply impaired system, even for them. It wasn’t even experimental as it had been proved to be detrimental in other countries. Besides which, it flew in the face of known best practice, as many knowledgeable people tried to tell them.
    Of all the awful things that this last government did, and there were a lot, heaven knows, this rates to me as the worst. It was deliberate, and almost, in my eyes, treasonous!

    • David Mac 4.1

      It was done for votes rather than the quality development of children. It gave parents with a cursory interest in their child’s education the opportunity to say ‘Ahhhh great, A, B and C passes, 72% in the exam , I can understand that, thanks National’.

      It’s done at the price of identifying and nurturing the dormant and special talents that dwell within all of us.

      • solkta 4.1.1

        I think as much as that it was done in an attempt to narrow the curriculum. Labour had spent several years consulting with the sector to create the New Zealand Curriculum. This had moved more to a whole person approach with focus on identity and relationships as well as broad subject content. National Standards forced teachers to focus back on the ‘core’ subjects of reading, writing and maths.

        • David Mac 4.1.1.1

          I enjoy chatting with young dedicated teachers, the education process has changed so much since I was there.

          I had information laid out for me to sponge up. Today all the information is at our fingertips and education has become sorting out what are the bombs and Bentleys on the Information Highway and more importantly, how to start grouping that information and applying critical thinking.

          Fascinates me, ignites my imagination.

      • Cinny 4.1.2

        So hearing you on that David Mac. Creativity has been left behind, talents un-nurtured, the answer has to be “X” any other answer is wrong etc etc. Worksheets and more worksheets, it’s been bullshit for all involved.

        Kids need to feel proud about something, give them that and they will excell, they will be so involved with their passion, nurtured at school, that they won’t need a crutch of social media to feel good about themselves, or to bully others. As social media often has the reverse results, and the youth suicide rates speak for themselves. Once they are feeling good about themselves life starts to flow.

        Give them more music in their curriculum and watch their maths improve. It’s all relevant, it’s all connected and it’s all important and it’s all been overshadowed by national standards.

        Some kids will never ever reach national standards, and while the focus and pressure overwhelms them to ‘pass’ the failed imported system; another invention, idea, piece of art is lost and forgotten, unacknowledged and unvalued, because of national standards.

        “X” is not always the only correct answer and there’s more than one way to find it.

        There will be some happy teachers this holidays, so excited for all the kids, for their futures. Looking forward to the next episode in education, so thrilled with the new government. There’s such a positive hum at all the primary schools in our region, rather than the end of year stress and restlessness that it has been in the past. Going to call it “Hope”, a wonderful contagious feeling

        • David Mac 4.1.2.1

          We share similar views Cinny.

        • Reality 4.1.2.2

          Great post Cinny

        • greywarshark 4.1.2.3

          Cinny
          Great news. Wishing all in education, at the ‘coalface’, a Happy Christmas and 2018.

          • greywarshark 4.1.2.3.1

            Cinny
            Here are some good quotes for Chrissie presents! I came across these on education and children and thought them excellent, so give them to you. And an extra one that is meaningful, from Frederick Douglass who had been a Negro slave, so knew what he talked of.

            The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things. Jean Piaget

            Author Profession: Psychologist
            Nationality: Swiss
            Born: August 9, 1896
            Died: September 16, 1980
            Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/jean_piaget_751077

            It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
            Frederick Douglass

            Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us.
            Frederick Douglass

            Author Profession: Author
            Nationality: American
            Born: February 14, 1817
            Died: February 20, 1895
            Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/frederick_douglass_20157

      • Tricledrown 4.1.3

        David Mac.Redneck appeasment Talk back radio policy.
        Is why National turned teaching into production line pupils.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.4

        It was done for votes

        It was done as part of the long term goal of privatising all public services.

  5. Psych nurse 5

    Teachers always said that National Standards would fail, that teachers would have to teach to the narrow standard to the exclusion of all else. This is a class thing, some years ago a friend was a House Master and teacher at Christs College, he explained how that school achieved such high School Cert results, they learn’t the 5th form curriculum three years in a row, what was important was not the journey through Education but the result, nothing has changed.

    • David Mac 5.1

      Taught the 5th form curriculum 3 years in a row! Ha, that’s genius. Brilliant for passing exams, shame about life.

    • greywarshark 5.2

      Christs College, and others of that ilk which attract the so-called brightest and best students, is the seedbed where the minds and morals of advantaged people who get to be leaders and politicians are formed. Voila here are the flower of NZ’s education and advancement, the crop we have at present have all been raised in this nursery of cactus plants with unpleasant barbs which occasionally flower spectacularly and then just sit and swell up with the juice of kool-aid some to burst like Mr Creosote of Monty Python in-fame. He was very fat, very gross by the way.

      The item below on Don Brash gives a timely example of how hard it is to be an economist and a person of principle committed to acting for the good of the people, even the country, not for the most presently compelling argument.

      (cf Don Brash similar)-
      He attended Cashmere Primary School and Christchurch Boys’ High School before going to the University of Canterbury where he graduated in economics, history and political science.

      He continued his studies in economics, receiving his master’s degree in 1961 for a thesis arguing that foreign investment damaged a country’s economic development. The following year he began working towards a PhD (again in economics, at the Australian National University), which reached the opposite conclusion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Brash

      And early in 2014, Don published Incredible Luck, a book which is in part Don’s own assessment of his life –
      http://www.donbrash.com/about-don/

      • He continued his studies in economics, receiving his master’s degree in 1961 for a thesis arguing that foreign investment damaged a country’s economic development. The following year he began working towards a PhD (again in economics, at the Australian National University), which reached the opposite conclusion.

        Which should tell people just how out of touch with reality modern economics is.

        He was actually right the first time. Due to its propensity to grab the IP, close the local branch and then leave NZ foreign investment actively destroys local development.

  6. savenz 6

    National Standards has been shocking and deliberately put into place by National in my view to do five things.

    1/To destroy the Teachers union, by assessing kids and then making an argument for performance pay based on those assessments. Then to bring that in and divide the teachers into ‘good’ teachers and ‘bad’ teachers and thus drive wedges between them and reduce the teachers union power for collective bargaining.

    2/To divide children, parents and teachers who are at the coal front of teaching the slop that the ministry have forced them to teach and assess. Some kids ‘appear’ to be doing very well, while other’s don’t and are unable to, as the standards themselves were extremely flawed and without any merit. Therefore creating division between the kids doing well and the kids not doing well and the parents whose kids were doing well and the parents of kids not doing well, as well as division between the parents and teachers when the kids were not doing well or demotivated by the curriculum.

    3/ Create diversion so that the education funding could be cut and redirected into private schools, charter schools and building more schools for their desired increased population and construction industry (rather than concentrating on the education within the schools aka the children getting the funding for their education or teachers pay).

    4/Force parents to use the private sector more to ‘catch’ their kids up with special needs and assessments and pay for other private providers in all the areas now missing or very weak from the curriculum like music, arts, drama and PE. As well as catch up for literacy like reading, maths and writing.

    5/Force the schools to use the private sector for things like swimming as funding for that and the maintenance of that is cut and eventually try to get the schools to sell off land to pay for the running of the schools or actually close the schools with a view to having giant superschools and more kids being taught via video links and not actually going to a school.

    In short our precious kids are collateral damage for the National parties ideology of a unionless, privatised education sector for business profit not education.

    • JessNZ 6.1

      +100000

    • In short our precious kids are collateral damage for the National parties ideology of a unionless, privatised education sector for business profit not education.

      QFT

      And it is actions like this that destroys society and all done in the name of greed profit.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.3

      Once again, exactly as predicted.

      If the goal is to privatise education the policy is working perfectly.

  7. patricia bremner 7

    This whole mess began with Lockwood Smith’s syllabus.He threw out creativity.

    National standards were like the National party, not fit for purpose.

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    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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