(2)This evaluation study was funded by the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB), Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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Evaluation of the Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme for Primary Schools in Hong Kong

2004 - 2006

Patrick Griffin and Kerry Woods, Assessment Research Centre, The University of Melbourne

Peter Storey,

School of Education and Languages, The Open University of Hong Kong Edwin King Por Wong and Wally Y. W. Fung ,

School of Continuing Professional Education, The Hong Kong Institute of Education.


This evaluation study was funded by the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB), Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Acknowledgement and thanks are due to the following people from the Native-speaking English Teacher Section, EMB, whose contributions and insights were important for the success of this evaluation:

Simon Tham, Chief Curriculum Development Officer (NET) Ralph Barnes, Senior Curriculum Development Officer (PM/NET) Sandy SP Shum, former Assistant Project Manager (Evaluation) Patricia KC Wong, Assistant Project Manager

Christina CL Suen, Assistant Project Manager John KC Leung, Assistant Project Manager Peter Broe, Assistant Project Manager Lionell Horn, Assistant Project Manager The Advisory Teaching Team (NET) Toby Chu, Project Co-ordinator (NET)

Andy Lam, Assistant Project Executive (PNET)

The authors of this report also wish to thank Icy Lui-Lau, Christina Ng Wong Sau Wai, and Kaspar Pold for their help in conducting workshops in preparation for data collection, and Alexander Seeshing Yeung, Aster Ka Kiu Li, Ivan Chiu Shui Kau, Nathan Zoanetti and Sumithra Subasinghe for their contributions to data collection and management.

Thanks are especially due to the teachers of Hong Kong for their commitment and effort in collecting the data.



Table of Contents

Executive Summary ... v

Chapter One: The Setting for the Study... 1

The Hong Kong Education System... 1

Kindergarten Education ... 1

Basic Education ... 1

Language Education in Hong Kong ... 2

Involvement of Native-speaking English Teachers in Hong Kong... 3

Evaluation of the Primary Native English-speaking Teacher Scheme, 2004 – 2006 ... 5

Major Issues Posed by the Education and Manpower Bureau ... 5

The Design of the Study... 6

Data Collection and Handling Procedures ... 7

Who were the Major Players in the PNET Scheme? ... 8

Advisory Teacher Team, Native-speaking English Teacher Section... 9

Role and Contributions of the Assistant Project Managers ... 10

Role and Contribution of the Advisory Teachers ... 11

Role and Contributions of the Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs)... 17

Summary ... 27

Chapter Two: Student Achievement and Attitudes... 28

The Language Assessment Instrument ... 28

Profiles in English as a Second Language ... 28

Interview Test of English Language ... 28

Background Questionnaires ... 28

What percentages of students reached the differenct levels of student achievement in 2006 and how do these compare to student outcomes in 2004 and 2005 ... 29

Student Achievement in Reading in English ... 30

Growth in Student Proficiency in Reading English from 2004 to 2006 ... 32

Patterns of Change in Student Reading Achievement from 2004 to 2006 ... 34

Student Achievement in Written English ... 37

Growth in Student Proficiency in Written English from 2004 to 2006 ... 39

Patterns of Change in Student Proficiency in Written English from 2004 to 2006 ... 41

Student Achievement in Spoken English... 44

Growth in Student Proficiency in Spoken English from 2004 to 2005... 45

Change in Patterns of Student Achievement in Spoken English from 2004 to 2006 ... 47

The Interview Test of English Language... 50

Growth in Student Achievement on the Interview Test from 2004 to 2006... 51

Change in Student Achievement for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Cohorts ... 53

Student Attitudes to English ... 56

Student Attitudes and Achievement... 59

Gender and Proficiency... 62

Summary ... 66 ii


Conclusions... 70

Chapter Three: Home Support for English Studies ... 71

Home Background Characteristics of the Students ... 71

Speaking English at Home ... 71

Parents’ Education ... 72

Attitudes of Parents to English Language Studies ... 72

Access to Books and Leisure Activities ... 73

Homework and Supervision... 73

Relationships between Home Background and Students’ Achievement in English... 73

Impact of Opportunities to Use English... 74

Impact of Access to Books at Home ... 78

Impact of the Primary Literacy Programme – Reading (Key Stage One) on Development of Reading Proficiency ... 81

Impact of Parents’ Education... 84

Impact of continuity of teaching by a NET on relationships between student development and proficiency and parental education... 91

Impact of Parents’ Support for English Studies... 96

Summary ... 100

Chapter Four: Teachers, the Classroom Environment and Student Achievement... 101

Characteristics of Teachers ... 101

Gender and Age... 101

Pairing more and less experienced LETs and NETs... 102

Impact of Collaboration between LETs and NETs... 107

Teacher Workload... 113

Teacher Qualifications ... 114

Teachers’ Use of English... 115

LETs’ Attitudes to English and Teaching English... 117

The Classroom Environment ... 120

Teachers’ Access to Teaching Resources ... 120

Teachers’ Use of Resources and Practices ... 121

Local Teachers’ Use of Teaching Resources and Student Achievement... 127

Growth in Student Proficiency and LETs’ Use of Resources and Practices in the Classroom ... 132

Summary ... 138

Chapter Five: Implementation of the PNET Scheme in Schools... 139

Characteristics of School Heads ... 139

Characteristics of Schools... 139

Impact of Size of School... 141

Deployment of NETs in Schools ... 141

School Support for Collaboration by NET and LETs... 142

Co-teaching ... 142

English Panel Meetings ... 146

School Support for Inclusion of the NET ... 148



School Support for Co-planning by NET and LETs ... 153

School Head Support for a Leadership Role of the NET ... 157

Change and Stability in School Heads’ Support for the PNET Scheme ... 159

Summary ... 159

Chapter Six: Support for the PNET Scheme ... 161

Allocation of NETs to Schools ... 161

Impact of Size of School and Sharing a NET... 161

Induction of NETs into Schools ... 169

Teacher Participation in Professional Development Courses, Seminars and Workshops ... 169

School Support for Teacher Participation in Professional Development Courses ... 171

Primary Literacy Programme – Reading (KS1)... 174

Summary ... 180

Chapter Seven: Effective PNET Schools in Hong Kong ... 181

Method of Analysis... 181

Most and Least Effective Schools... 184

Comments on Results ... 186

Local Teacher Use of Resources ... 187

Strategies ... 187

Responses to the NET ... 187

NET and AT Characteristics ... 187

NET and PD Courses... 188

NET Strategies ... 188

NET Attitude ... 188

Conclusion ... 189

Chapter Eight: Summary and Conclusions... 190

References... 210



Executive Summary

This study examined the effectiveness of the Primary Native-speaking English Teacher (PNET) Scheme in Hong Kong Primary schools. As the name suggests, native-speaking English teachers (NETs) were embedded in schools, sometimes one NET to one school and sometimes one NET to two schools. The project objectives were as shown below:

Project Objectives 1. Determine the effectiveness of the PNET Scheme

A number of key indicators were developed for the evaluation of the PNET Scheme.

These were:

a. Learning outcomes:

1. Quality of school environment for children to learn English 2. English learned

3. Children's interest and aspirations in learning English b. Teaching strategies:

4. Innovative learning and teaching methods 5. Curriculum emphases and materials curricula

6. Teaching and learning activities suited to the needs of local children 7. 'Best' practices in language learning and teaching

c. School policy support:

8. School policy development and leadership in promoting English learning d. Home background:

9. Parent support and home resources available to support learning English 2. Measure (cognitive and affective) proficiency of Hong Kong students in English at multiple formative stages of development over three years and examine the relationship to the PNET Scheme and how it is implemented.

This aspect of the project involved the development of proficiency frameworks and attitude scales consistent with generic goals of the PNET Scheme and of attitudes relevant to the study of English.

3. Monitor and advise on changes in proficiency and attitudes over time in terms of valued added analyses

This goal was based on the observation that measures over time could be obtained from a series of samples of students using parallel and linked forms of instruments. A three-stage data collection was designed to enable a value-added analysis to be undertaken. This also allowed the study to link the roles of the Advisory Teacher (AT), the NET and the Local English Teacher (LET) to be examined concurrently and to examine how these led to changes in English proficiency.



Evaluation Summary

Despite an increased emphasis placed on upon co-teaching, co-planning and collaboration between NETs and LETs in the deployment guidelines for NETs, individual LETs reported a decrease in frequency of interaction with the NET at their schools in 2006. The size of the student population, and the number of classes across which the NET was deployed, had a negative impact on opportunities for LETs and NETs to collaborate, and this was exacerbated when the NET was deployed in more than one school. Parental pressure also meant that some schools deployed their NETs across every class and year level, so that an individual student might have quite infrequent contact with the NET. In short, deployment policy needs to take into account the size of the student population in a school when deciding whether or not to deploy a NET in more than one school. The deployment of NETs in more than one school has remained unpopular with NETs and LETs, but may be appropriate when schools share a building or are geographically close and have relatively small student populations.

The positive impact on the attitudes of students when their local teachers of English (LETs) had formed supportive working relationships with the Advisory Teacher (AT) assigned to the school was evident. The ATs had clearly developed strong and positive relationships with the NETs in most schools, and most of the NETs valued the support of the ATs, but in many schools this had not been extended to include the LETs. This offered an opportunity for the NET Section and the ATs to effect improvements in the PNET Scheme.

It was evident that, in the more effective schools, the AT was active in developing and introducing new teaching methods. In particular, it was important that the AT clearly supported and promoted innovation in teaching methods and that LETs and NETs recognised and valued the role and contributions of the AT. The difference between more and less effective PNET schools was related to the impact of the AT and the NET and the extent to which the NET was able to meet the expected requirements of their deployment.

The largest impact of the PNET Scheme was at P1 level. It appeared that there were diminishing returns for the PNET Scheme after P1, although overall growth in language proficiency was increasing. The NET Deployment Guidelines recommend that the NET be deployed in schools primarily to work with students and teachers at Key Stage One.

Thus, diminishing returns for the PNET Scheme at Key Stage Two could be interpreted as an indication of the successful deployment on NETs in the earlier years of schooling.

While student attitudes to learning and using English were extremely stable over the evaluation period, it was clear that they were related to proficiency. That is the better the student performed in English the more positive was their attitude. The reason for this relationship was not clear. However there needs to be a concerted effort to build attitudes towards learning English after P1. The stability in attitudes suggested that:



• Attitudes are formed before students enter school.

• Attitude development in schools is negligible.

• Those with more positive attitudes were more likely to develop their language proficiency.

• Methods of developing more positive attitudes are urgently needed, at least to the level of valuing English language proficiency.

• The link between opportunities to use English outside school and more positive attitudes suggested that students need to be shown the relevance and importance of English to their own lives. For many students, English has remained simply another subject to be learned at school, rather than a useful skill and one with personal relevance.

On average, students achieved higher levels of English proficiency if they had opportunities to practise their English outside school, as well as access to a large number of books in the home, and parents with higher than average levels of education who expressed interest in their child’s English language studies, supervised their English language homework and took time to look at the child’s English school work.

Continuity of teaching by a NET over the three years of primary education studied was related to improved outcomes for students from home backgrounds that were less enriched in terms of support for English language studies. In particular, involvement with the PLP-R (KS1) seemed to help overcome the negative impact on students’ progress in reading associated with homes in which there were few or no books. This indicated that perhaps a government program aimed at the homes could influence both attitudes and the engagement of students in English language classes. Interviews with LETs and NETs suggested that a major impact of the PNET Scheme for students from home backgrounds in which English was rarely, if ever, spoken, was the improved self-confidence exhibited by children who had regular opportunities to be taught by a NET.

Of central importance for the success of the PNET Scheme and positive outcomes for the students were the attitudes and proficiency in English of the LETs, both as teachers and users of the language. Limited opportunities taken within the broader social environment to engage in meaningful use of English, for teachers specialising in English, suggested the imperative to use English within the workplace and create an English speaking environment around the English Panel, as was the encouragement of teachers to develop their language skills and act as language role models for students.

LETs need to be encouraged, supported and rewarded for taking opportunities to develop their proficiency through cultural and professional activities, overseas and local immersion programmes, and enrichment programmes in language and literature.



Positive collaboration between LETs and the NET was an important factor in terms of student proficiency and development.

Matching LETs and NETs in terms of age and years of experience as English teachers held implications for the frequency of co-teaching and co-planning, and the attitudes that LETs expressed towards the usefulness of their collaboration with the NET.

Different patterns of collaboration were explored, and their potential impact on the morale of teachers and outcomes for students was discussed.

Most LETs and NETs had acceptable access to resources, although there were differences between LETs and NETs in terms of the use they made of those resources. Also, different teaching resources were associated with higher student proficiency levels in different domains of English and different year levels. Teaching resources and practices associated with teaching students at higher levels of proficiency to read in English were not necessarily the same as strategies associated with teaching students verbal skills. This was a positive observation and needs to be reinforced through the professional development program.

Strategies associated with the NET and the PNET Scheme were linked to higher mean achievement for students in P1, P2 and P3, but less so for P4 students. Observations of successful use of teaching resources and practices could be used to target the professional development and encouragement of teachers. From interactive art and media at P1 level, to group work and socially interactive use of language of teachers in P4, there was a discernable shift in teaching strategies associated with higher levels of student language proficiency.

Over the three years of the evaluation, it was clear that co-planning and co-teaching between NET and LETs had become a common practice in schools in which a NET was deployed. Most of the School Heads and LETs indicated that co-planning meetings between the NET and LETs at their school were regularly timetabled within the school day, valued highly by the teachers, and well-structured, with roles shared and rotated between the NET and LETs. The NETs largely agreed with this assessment, although more NETs than LETs viewed the co-planning meetings as unstructured in format.

However, the size of the school and NET deployment in more than one school impacted negatively on opportunities for individual LETs to meet the NET and work collaboratively to plan lessons and co-teach.

In most schools, the NET was routinely included in relevant school activities, with many School Heads, LETs and NETs agreeing that the NET was encouraged to participate in and contribute to school events. In a small minority of schools, LETs and NET agreed that the NET had become marginalised and excluded from school life. There was, however, a need to formalise the NET’s role and introduce an internal monitoring process within the school. This has been recommended in this report as a standing item in the agenda of the English Panel meeting. The recommended action is that this standing item should address the NET’s role and deployment in the school, the conduct of co-planning



meetings, the use by LETs of materials and strategies recommended by the AT or the NET, and the use of innovative strategies for teaching English. This should be minuted and reported to the central project management and signed off by the School Head.

There was evidence of an impact on development of student proficiency in terms of the support of the School Head for the inclusion and integration of the NET, and in particular in the skill areas of reading and writing, and this emphasised a need for all School Heads to be fully informed of the implementation of the PNET Scheme at their school, and to ensure their support, knowledge and understanding of the Scheme and their involvement in the Scheme.

Most NETs and LETs and all School Heads affirmed that deployment of the NET took EMB guidelines into account in terms of classroom teaching, and provision of time for curriculum planning and professional development. A majority of School Heads, LETs and NETs agreed that the school not only acknowledged EMB guidelines for deployment of the NET, but adapted the guidelines to school goals to provide most benefit to teachers and students. However, the qualitative investigation revealed some schools where deployment guidelines were imperfectly understood, or even actively resisted.

The value School Heads placed upon various aspects of their role in promoting English at their school and provision of support for the PNET Scheme was clearly influential.

Students at schools where the School Head placed importance upon supporting the leadership role of the NET in the English programme tended, on average, to demonstrate more growth in English proficiency than students in schools where this was not the case.

All School Heads need to be reminded of the central role they play in ensuring the success of the PNET Scheme and supporting the development of English language proficiency for their students. Structured monitoring and reporting processes through the English Panel meetings may help this process.

Centralised professional development courses, seminars and workshops provided and led by the ATT were well-attended and supported by teachers and school leadership in 2006.

This built upon and extended support for these courses that was evident in the previous years of the evaluation. However, individual LETs reported quite low rates of participation in training and workshops. It is acknowledged that the number of LETs in schools varies considerably, and that many LETs do not have opportunities to work with a NET or take part in training and workshops. Yet the project analysed information about participation in training and workshops gathered only from those LETs whose students were being taught by a NET in the survey year, and who could thus be expected to be involved in the professional development programme. There is an opportunity here for improvement of the implementation of the PNET Scheme through increased participation of LETs in training, with associated opportunities to form stronger working relationships with both the NET and AT and to build confidence as users and teachers of English.

Improvements in attitudes to lifelong learning in English will need to start with the local teachers of English, and then in turn motivate similar attitudes in students.



Although the current study was not designed to evaluate the PLP-R (KS1), there were some initial indications that participation in the programme was linked to student progress in reading proficiency in English, and to changed teaching practices by the LETs.

The analysis of school effectiveness presented in Chapter 7 of this report identified variables associated with the differences between effective and ineffective schools. An

‘effective’ school was one in which average student achievement was above that which could be expected from the type of student intake into the school. An ‘ineffective’ school was one in which average student achievement was much worse than could be expected given the student intake into the school. The quality of the student intake into the school was measured by a composite home background variable consisting of the extent to which the student spoke English outside the school, access to books at home, the level of the parents’ education and indicators of support for language studies.

The ten most effective and ten least effective schools were identified and the differences on many independent variables were calculated in terms of the overall standard deviation.

The overwhelming impression was that where the NET was able to follow the deployment guidelines set out by the PNET Scheme, and was interacting with local teachers, leading change in teaching and learning strategies, transferring messages, materials and strategies from professional development, attending English Panel meetings that were conducted in English, and generally acting as a fully integrated member of the teaching staff, there were clear advantages in terms of student outcomes. It seemed that the deployment guidelines for the NET were appropriate, and where they were followed in schools the PNET Scheme was effective in supporting the development of language proficiency for students.

The indicators of school effectiveness, in terms of the PNET Scheme, that have been presented in Chapter 7 could be used to motivate and support school acceptance of the ideals of the PNET Scheme. If schools cannot demonstrate that they are making progress towards effective deployment of the NET and support for the LETs and overall English teaching programme, perhaps it would be better to re-deploy the NET in a school that is better placed to make good use of the NET’s services.

Finally, it is clear that the variation within class in terms of student language proficiency is considerable. Within any class, students are spread over many levels of development.

The field of language instruction has been aware for many years that proficiency levels are important information in determining what kind of teaching and resource allocation to use with instruction. The predominant approach to teaching and learning across the system, as described by the LETs in every year of the evaluation, is whole class instruction from a text book. This is not likely to succeed, with the variation within class so high in terms of achievement. Many times, the data have shown that the better students are developing and developing fast. There is also considerable evidence that students of low proficiency are not developing well, if at all. Some (almost 10%) have lost ground in terms of English language proficiency over the past three years.



These observations signal a need for a change in the mode of professional development and for a change in teaching practices. Text-book dominated, whole-class instruction must be replaced by targeted instruction aimed at the level of language where the student is ready to learn. The best estimate of their readiness to learn, (in Vygotskian terms) is their current proficiency level and the level immediately above. This has further implications.

Teachers must be aware of the proficiency level of their students, not their score on a competency test. Measures of the proficiency level of students, provided by training the teacher to use proficiency scales such as those in the English Profiles and directly interpretable from the ITEL test, are essential pieces of data that teachers must have available for every student. It is distressing to see a programme such as the PNET Scheme hampered by classroom teaching and learning strategies that make the assumption that “one size fits all,” when it is widely recognised and understood that this simply does not work.


1. Succession planning

How long the PNET Scheme can be sustained is unclear. If the Scheme can be improved to demonstrate clear gains in English language proficiency and attitudes for students, then it may be an investment with substantial returns for the Hong Kong SAR. In order to sustain the Scheme, improvements are mandatory.

• An investigation is needed to identify the influence of immigration and the changing economic and ethnic profile of the community on the language goals of the SAR and on the curriculum in the schools.

2. Collaboration and co teaching, co planning

The importance of collaboration between teachers, and support for collaboration, cannot be stressed strongly enough. The English Panel meetings have to become a central organisational and administrative platform for the implementation and monitoring of change in schools. If the Panel meetings are not dealing with academic matters related to the teaching of English, they should be. If they are conducted in a language other than English and exclude the NET, they must not. These meetings can have a profound influence on the success of the PNET Scheme.

• English Panel meetings in schools that have a NET must be attended by the NET. A standing item in the agenda must address the English curriculum and the teaching and learning program. The NET should report on activities conducted during the period between meetings, in terms of:

o the dissemination of professional development o new strategies for teaching English



o co-planning activities and the practices implemented as a result of these

o co-teaching strategies and the mentoring that accompanied this practice

o achievement monitoring of students following formal assessments o gains in language and evidence of shifts in attitudes

o goals and strategies in development and that have been tried as methods to address language development

o classroom management strategies that will aid improvement in every student, whether strong or weak in English

o targeted use of teaching and learning materials and resources o theoretical underpinnings of approaches that have been trialled.

• A formal record of these English Panel discussions should be minuted and copies filed for the Panel, one copy sent to the School Head and one copy to the programme coordination unit.

• Professional development is needed for the NETs in evaluation strategies aimed at monitoring and reporting to the English Panel meetings.

3. Teaching

• The deployment of the NET should be determined by the needs of the English programme in the school. It appears that in many schools the NET is regarded as a supplementary teaching resource. Deployment should be decided upon by the English Panel as a result of discussions and on going evaluation in collaboration with the Panel Chair ad the School Head. The reasons for the deployment should be documented and reported through the accountability procedures recommended above.

4. Variation in resource and strategies

It is tempting to recommend that the teaching resources in the classroom should be varied, because it is clear that high performing schools and classes use a wide range of teaching and learning resources. However, an unspecified increase in resource range may not achieve any more than normal gains. Using the same resources for all students, regardless of proficiency or learning needs, may be counterproductive and would result in exactly the kind of increased variation in achievement levels as demonstrated in the study. The best students go ahead, the lower students are left behind. This is the situation in the achievement levels monitored in this evaluation.

• Resources in English classes should be evaluated by the NET and the English Panel for their appropriateness to the proficiency level of the students and used in targeted teaching for groups of students across the proficiency range in the class.



5. Assessment

Related to targeted intervention and use of resources is a change in style of assessment. Links are needed with the Hong Kong project studying and developing school-based assessment. But strong lobbying is also required to ensure assessment leads to improvement in learning. This can only happen if the interpretation of the assessment data leads to a clear understanding of the students’ readiness to learn and this is rarely the case when the interpretation is expressed as a number or test score.

• Assessment strategies need to be competency-based and interpreted in terms of the language skills and attitudes that the student is ready to learn. NETs and local teachers need professional development in this form of assessment and its link to readiness to learn for students.

6. Oral language opportunities for teachers and students

The importance of spoken English practice cannot be sufficiently stressed, but it needs an entire cultural change if such practice is to succeed. Teachers need opportunities to practise English and their proficiency needs to be monitored.

• Classroom strategies that encourage student to student, student to teacher and teacher to teacher use of English need to be identified and made mandatory for classes, taking into account the different levels of proficiency of both the local teacher and the students. Immediate action is required in this regard and the role of the AT in identifying these strategies and providing the professional development is central to the success of these strategies.

• Local English teachers must be encouraged and rewarded for practising English. Prizes and awards for spoken English usage are needed. The Scheme’s coordination unit should devise ways of monitoring the use of English and this must start with the language medium of the English Panel meetings involving the NET. Regardless of the difficulty encountered, English teachers must know how to speak the language and must be sufficiently professional that they will practise and act as role models to their students.

7. Schools

Schools in the PNET Scheme must provide a structured and managed approach to the Scheme. Schools that nurture the Scheme and follow the ideals espoused in the effective schools research and apply these to their school, have been identified as successful in terms of improved student outcomes. School Heads need professional development in managing and supporting the PNET Scheme.



• A group of School Heads from successful schools should be identified and invited to form a mentoring group for the overall Scheme and for other School Heads. These mentoring School Heads should form a working team, and provided support through discussion groups, leadership and school effectiveness programmes, professional reading programmes and mentor training.

• Schools that demonstrate their commitment to the PNET Scheme, and follow the ideals set out for schools in the discussion of effective schools presented in Chapter 7, should be identified and established as Beacon Schools. Resourced appropriately, these schools could disseminate good practice and encourage professional networking opportunities for English teaching personnel.

8. NETs

The NETs’ role is pivotal to the programme. It is a complex role. The NET is responsible for collaboration with the local English teachers in at least one school and in many cases in more than one school. Some NETs need to interact with more than twenty teachers. The role involves co-teaching, co-planning, mentoring, planning professional development, and dissemination of strategies and materials. Most of the impact of the NET on the student is mediated through the LET despite the co- teaching role. The primary purpose of co-teaching is to help the LET to confidently and competently use innovative and effective strategies and materials in their own teaching. Accountability in terms of the role of the NET is not as defined as it might be.

• The NET should be required to attend English Panel meetings, which must be scheduled for a time when the NET is present in the school to allow for the situation where the NET is shared across more than one school.

• At English Panel meetings the NET should be required to report on the topics documented in recommendation 2.

• As a result of these requirements, professional development should be provided for the NETs in evaluation strategies and evidence-based decision- making that would enable sound recommendations to be made to the Panel, the School Head and to the NET Section, EMB.

9. LETs

The LET is the channel through which the impact of the NET, the AT and the PNET Scheme on teaching and learning is mediated. LETs are the major contact for the children learning English and form the most influential role model in the schools.

As such their behaviour, their use of language and their enthusiasm for English will undoubtedly influence the way the children respond to learning English. There is much to do in this regard.



• The local English teacher must be sufficiently proficient in English to be able to participate effectively in meetings conducted in English.

• The local English teachers must speak English in front of the students at every opportunity and make sure that the quality of language demonstrates an appreciation and enthusiasm for speaking English.

• The local English teacher must attend professional development programmes both inside and outside the school and the programmes should be delivered by the NET and the AT. The School Head must allocate

“timetable space” to allow both NET and LETs to attend professional development.

• The local English teacher should be required to report to the English Panel on the professional development, the co-planning and co-teaching activities, and on the use of innovative strategies and materials. Their reports should address staff development needs and effectiveness of each strategy and material use and ought to address student learning and be supported by verifiable evidence.

• LETs will need and should be given professional development in evidence- based decision-making and evaluation to enable accurate and defensible reporting of the effectiveness of strategies and materials introduced as part of the PNET Scheme.


There is a range of matters that need to be addressed at the system level.

• The NET Deployment Guidelines need to be revised in view of evidence provided by this evaluation, and clearly understood by all PNET stakeholders.

• Reactivation of a yearly NET Duty / Deployment Plan or English Curriculum Plan for all schools within the PNET Scheme might encourage clearer professional direction for school-based English personnel, as well as provide better allocation of learning and teaching resources. The NET and the curriculum developer of the school [e.g., the EPC/PSM(CD)] may be then asked to evaluate and build on what has been achieved.

• The ATs should target professional development to demonstrate developmental learning and targeted intervention.

• The system should define and implement an accountability procedure for PNET schools, NETs and LETs and this accountability should include procedures or reporting as set out in recommendation 2.

• Professional development should be provided to LETs and resources made available for this strategy. This requires a shift in professional development as outlined above.

• The emphasis on development of new materials might be diminished, and increased attention given to how materials can be used for different students at specific levels of English proficiency.



11. Professional development

• Professional development for LETs and NETs must emphasise the targeting of instructional intervention in the classroom and emphasise targeted instruction and evaluation.

• Professional development should be provided to the ATs and the NETs on how targeted intervention can be implemented and evaluated; this professional development can take the form of professional reading and discussion groups facilitated by senior staff in the coordination unit.

School Heads

• Professional development is needed for School Heads via a form of mentoring on how to successfully manage the PNET Scheme, induct a NET, evaluate the impact on the students and report to the coordination unit.

13. Long term strategy for PNET Scheme

• The Education and Manpower Bureau should set out strategies for the PNET Scheme over three, five and 20 years and means of evaluating the Scheme. There may not be any need for further intensive studies such as this evaluation, if the ongoing accountability procedures outlined in these recommendations are implemented.

14. System monitoring

• Methods of collecting, collating, analysing, interpreting and reporting the accountability cycle information should be developed and documented.

• Reporting guidelines for NETs, LETs and School Heads need to be set out and disseminated with appropriate training for each of these groups.


There is a need to reform four key aspects of schools' practices in the PNET Scheme. The first is the curriculum itself, which is represented by the presence of the NET in the school and the infrastructure provided by the NET Section EMB. The second is the assessment and reporting regime of the school and of the system. This needs to focus on proficiency reporting rather than test scores, or even basic competency test results. All testing and assessment needs to be reported in terms of a standards-referenced framework describing the level of language proficiency in each of the four macro skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening). The third is the teaching and learning practices in the class room and these are a direct result of the second part of the reform. If teachers are required to report proficiency and language skill acquisition, then the emphasis on the teaching and learning shifts towards skill development and learning - not on grades, scores or test results. The fourth is the infrastructure of the school which included the



school policy and resources. Resource allocation, including time and professional development, is essential if the transitions in teaching, curriculum and assessment are to have an increased effect. There is a need for a curriculum task force within the EMB and the NET Section to explore the aspects of the curriculum transition that are represented by the NET Scheme.

Changes in teaching and learning must involve targeted or differentiated teaching if the within class variation reported in this study is to be addressed appropriately. Teachers need to be provided with professional development on classroom management for multi group or multilevel teaching and learning. This should ensure that each level-group of students is provided with instruction targeted at their level, with resources appropriate to the readiness to learn level of language proficiency. In order to achieve this, Recommendation 5 on assessment is reinforced.



Chapter One: The Setting for the Study

The Hong Kong Education System

Since 1997, education in Hong Kong has undergone a major review which has impacted on all aspects of the system from kindergarten to tertiary. Currently, the average Hong Kong child receives nine years of compulsory basic education sandwiched between three years of pre-school education and four years of senior secondary education. From 2009, a new system will include senior secondary education in the compulsory provision for the first time. Hong Kong kindergartens are also increasingly coming under the scrutiny and control of Government.

The education review, commencing with the Holistic review of the Hong Kong school curriculum (Curriculum Development Council, 1999), reaffirmed the importance of language in the Hong Kong curriculum, but placed it in the context of a comprehensively restructured overall curriculum encompassing learning goals and key learning tasks in the context of eight key learning areas (KLAs) where generic and specific skills, competencies and knowledge areas are developed.

Kindergarten Education

At present the kindergarten sector is dominated by private, profit-making institutions providing Chinese medium education. The kindergarten curriculum places a strong emphasis on cognitive and language development which essentially relates to Chinese, but involves an important introduction to English. Upon graduating from kindergarten, children are generally expected to have learned the English alphabet, some basic English vocabulary, some English songs and nursery rhymes and rudimentary social English (Curriculum Development Council, 2006). In recent years, the expectations of primary English teachers have been challenged by the influx of children from Mainland China who may not have attended kindergarten before entering primary school, or may have attended a kindergarten which did not provide this rudimentary introduction to English.

Basic Education

Compulsory education begins at age 6 and, in the 2005/06 academic year was provided by 720 primary schools, 571 secondary schools and 63 special schools for a school age population of approximately 916,000 children1. Due to a burgeoning population in the 1960s and the shortage of suitable premises, Hong Kong primary schools have traditionally comprised two schools using a single school building in what is referred to as a ‘bi-sessional’ arrangement. Under this arrangement, the AM school would operate from 8:00am to 1:00pm and the PM school would run from 1:00pm to 6:00pm.

Investment of considerable resources into a school building programme has combined with a declining school age population to make Whole Day schooling the norm, but a quarter of primary schools continued to operate a bi-sessional arrangement until 2007.

1 http://www.emb.gov.hk/index.aspx?nodeID=92&langno=1



The curriculum for the nine years of basic education includes a key focus on languages – English and Chinese, including Putonghua – as core subjects comprising more than 30%

of study time in the school. This reflects the aims of education which include an expectation that children will be able to ‘engage in discussion actively and confidently in English and Chinese (including Putonghua)’ (Curriculum Development Council, 2002).

Language Education in Hong Kong

The importance of English to the economic prosperity of Hong Kong is axiomatic.

Coinciding with the last stages of a shift from a manufacturing to a service industry base, the need to promote English became an increasing preoccupation of the administration from the late 1970s. The colonial Hong Kong Government of the time began a programme of investment in the development of English, which was carried forward by the post-1997 Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. The economic priorities of the late 1990s, which had motivated this investment, were further accentuated by global and regional developments in the fifteen years that followed. This included unprecedented growth in the prosperity of Mainland China with associated developments in Shanghai, and in other South China SARs which are now in direct competition with Hong Kong for lucrative tourist, entertainment and retail luxury goods markets.

In the face of regional competition from its Chinese sister cities – Shanghai, Shenzen and Macau – as well as from more distant tigers in Japan and Korea, Hong Kong retains an undisputed edge in the form of the language competence of its population. Although unable to compete with Singapore on this dimension, and despite repeated alarmist comments about falling standards, Hong Kong’s English linguistic heritage is a prime asset. It is an asset which has been nurtured by Government policy on language in general and on the qualification, training, professional development and support for local Chinese teachers who specialize in the teaching of English.

The language policy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, since its inception, has been a multilingual policy which has maintained a key role for English as well as for Putonghua. ‘Trilingualism and biliteracy’ are reflected in the seven learning goals of the basic education curriculum and in the structure of the KLA language curricula. Alongside this endorsement of the role of multilingualism in post-1997 Hong Kong, the concurrent review of the education system enabled reflection on approaches and methods for teaching language as well as on appropriate standards for those responsible for teaching language.

Significant curriculum development was undertaken by the Curriculum Development Council in conjunction with the Curriculum Development Institute of the Education and Manpower Bureau. At the same time, the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications instituted new standards for language teachers which helped address the problem of the significant proportions of English teachers who were underqualified to teach the language. The establishment of the Standing Committee on Language



Education and Research (SCOLAR) enabled constructive review of other system level issues including the Medium of Instruction policy in secondary schools, the appropriate qualifications of language teachers and, in its Review of Language Education (SCOLAR, 2003), the appropriate achievement standards for school students.

Involvement of Native-speaking English Teachers in Hong Kong

The Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme for Primary Schools (hereafter referred to as the Primary NET or PNET Scheme) is an important element of the support for English teaching in Hong Kong. The Scheme is part of an orchestrated policy for the involvement of native speakers in the teaching of English in Hong Kong which stretches back to 1997 and beyond.

One of the measures which heralded the inauguration of the new SAR Government in 1997 was the large-scale recruitment of native-speaking teachers of English. Native speakers of English had played a key role in the schools during the first 150 years of Hong Kong’s history (Bickley 1997; Sweeting 1990). However, by 1982, localisation was felt to have led to deterioration in language standards which ought to be “amended so that children in their first years of schooling might be exposed to native English speakers”

(Visiting Panel, 1982. III.1.9). Until 1997, the Visiting Panel’s recommendation was interpreted to refer to the recruitment of expatriate teachers on local terms. The Government’s advisory body on education, the Education Commission (EC), acknowledged the recommendation in the first Education Commission Report (ECR1) which advised that schools be encouraged to employ “locally available native English speakers” (Education Commission, 1984, p.39). As late as 1996, the sixth EC report only recommended that the feasibility of a “scheme” involving external recruitment be investigated and fell short of actually recommending one. The key issue appeared to be that external recruitment and the provision of local housing, essential to attract expatriate teachers, were extremely costly items.

The newly established SAR Government decided that the investment was worthwhile, and in October 1997, in his first policy address, the new Chief Executive undertook to implement a NET Scheme, providing more than 700 additional native-speaking English teachers in order to “make an immediate impact on improving the English language standards of our students” (Hong Kong SAR, 1997).

It is noteworthy that these initiatives were taking place at a time when the place of the

‘native speaker’ in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language was undergoing critical evaluation worldwide. Scholars like Pennycook (1998) and Phillipson (1992) perceived the global spread of English and the predominance of ‘native speakers’

in the teaching of ESL/EFL as a form or linguistic imperialism (see also Mair, 2003).

Others, including Medgyes (1998) and Luk and Lin (2006), made strong and cogent cases for the role of the non-native speaker in the teaching of the second or foreign language.

Significantly, therefore, the Hong Kong NET initiatives have, since 1997, involved 3


recruitment not only or necessarily of ‘native speakers’ with the ethnic connotations that term carries, but of ‘native-speaking English teachers,’ that is, teachers of English who speak the language with native-like competence. Significant numbers of NETs and PNETs recruited to work in Hong Kong schools fit into this category.

The Native-speaking English Teacher Scheme (NET Scheme) was introduced in 1997 to secondary schools and special schools in the secondary sector. Two separate school organisations received support from two Government funding agencies – the Language Fund and the Quality Education Fund (QEF), to enable them to introduce expatriate teachers into their primary schools during the period 1998 to 2000. Under these two primary school schemes a total of 16 teachers were recruited, and the evaluation of the secondary NET Scheme included these two primary schemes.

In addition, in 1999 two further schemes funded by QEF introduced NETs into the primary schools. The Primary Schools Education Development Scheme (PSED) employed 21 NETs working in 40 schools. The Tsuen Wan English Teacher Support Network (TWETSN) employed up to 16 NETS in the 38 schools in the New Territories district of Tsuen Wan.

The NET Scheme was expected to result in improvement of the professional profile of English language teachers, leading to advances in the quality of language teaching through a system where NETs produced teaching resources, served as models of good practice, effected gains in student language proficiency and were integrated into the life of the school. A team of researchers from the Hong Kong Institute of Education evaluated the NET Scheme, and concluded that it had enjoyed some success, despite difficulty in identifying clear-cut language gains resulting conclusively from interaction with a NET (Storey, Luk, Gray, Wang & Lin, 2000).

Storey et al. (2000) suggested that primary schools offered an excellent context for a unique NET role to be successfully realised because, in the junior primary school, public exam pressure was absent and English content was oriented towards social interaction. In secondary schools, on the other hand, the effects of the NET were seen as less likely to be significant without a cultural shift involving increased professional collaboration between NETs and local teachers, and corresponding changes to the exam-oriented, textbook- based learning culture of most secondary schools in Hong Kong. Storey et al.’s report supported the decision to extend the NET Scheme to include primary schools.

Strong additional arguments for a Primary NET Scheme came from the success of the two QEF-funded schemes. The Primary Schools English Development Project ran from 2000 to 2002 with the implicit aim of serving as a pilot for a full-scale primary NET Scheme. The considerable success of the project paved the way for this to happen (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2002). The Tsuen Wan English Teacher Support Network (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2003), which ran from 2000 to 2003, reinforced the belief that NETs could make a significant contribution in primary schools.



In 2002, the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) deployed NETs in local schools that were operating a minimum of six classes, with two primary schools sharing one NET. By September 2004, the Scheme had extended to address the goal of having one NET placed in every eligible school (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2006).

A key feature of the new Scheme, which distinguished it from its secondary school precursor, was a structured emphasis on collaboration between participating teachers. The benefits of collaboration among teachers are well documented (Bourne & McPake, 1991;

Rosenholz, 1991; Fullan & Hargreaves, 1992; Davison, 2006). In reality, however, collaboration is unlikely to take place without a structured mechanism to nurture it.

A rationale for institutionalised collaboration in Hong Kong primary schools between native-speaking English teachers and local teachers can be traced in the documentation of the Primary Schools English Development (PSED) project (EMB, 2002). A key objective of the project was ‘to promote the professional development of all the teacher participants’ (EMB, p.2) and the final report mentions team teaching as a strategy adopted specifically to promote this development (Appendix IX: 3); the original proposal for the project included co-teaching with local teachers, ‘with a view to sharing with them innovative teaching methods’, and ‘lessons learnt’ from the project include the observation that ‘we must promote PSED as a collaborative, creative professional partnership between the NETs and local English teachers’ (Appendix XV: 1).

Evaluation of the Primary Native English-speaking Teacher Scheme, 2004 – 2006

In 2003, the Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) requested that a detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of the NET Scheme in primary schools be undertaken. It was agreed that this investigation should be conducted over three years, and that it should incorporate both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies.

The research was designed to include repeated measures to assess gains in key variables, while controlling for contextual factors that influence the growth of key indices of effectiveness. EMB also requested that the evaluation begin with students currently in Key Stage One (aged from 5 to 8 years) because this was seen as a crucial and formative stage in the development of language skills.

Major Issues Posed by the Education and Manpower Bureau

The questions that were established at the start of the evaluation, and have guided the investigation, included the following:

1. What were the levels of student achievement in English? What percentages of students reached the different skill levels in reading, spoken language and writing? What were the differences in achievement between boys and girls?



2. What were the characteristics of students? These included their attitudes to learning English, their home background, characteristics of parents and parents’

attitudes to English. How did these relate to student proficiency and growth over the evaluation period?

3. What were the characteristics of teachers – both native-speaking English teachers (NETs) and local English teachers (LETs)? How well did the NETs and LETs collaborate and cooperate with each other for the teaching of English? What was the impact of teacher collaboration and cooperation on student outcomes? What were the factors that supported collaboration between teachers?

4. What were the teaching conditions, practices and resources in classrooms and in primary schools where a NET was deployed, and how did these vary across schools? What aspects of the teaching function designed to improve the quality of language education were in place? These included the influence of the Advisory Teaching Team and professional development workshops and training opportunities for teachers.

5. What were the characteristics of teachers, teaching conditions in schools, practices and resources that were most associated with differences between the most effective and least effective schools?

6. What were the contextual or other variables that were most associated with growth or lack of growth in student achievement?

The Design of the Study

The design of the evaluation study was based upon both cross-sectional and longitudinal monitoring of a range of indicators of successful deployment of NETs across three school years from 2004 – 2006. The key indicators of success for the PNET Scheme included measures of:

ƒ Student outcomes in English gathered via teacher observation against descriptive profiles of student achievement and by interview test.

ƒ Student attitude and interest in learning English, and indicators of the foundation of lifelong learning in English.

ƒ The opinions that NETs, LETs and School Heads reported about the provision of a quality environment for children to learn English. This included ideas about appropriate curriculum emphases and materials, teaching and learning activities suited to the needs of Hong Kong students, and “best practice” in language learning and teaching.



ƒ The level of support in schools for the introduction of innovative learning and teaching methods through the contribution of the NETs and the Advisory Teaching Team (ATT) and teacher development courses, seminars and workshops.

ƒ School policy development and leadership in promoting English learning through the NET Scheme.

The quantitative data of student achievement formed the basis of a broader programme of research in the evaluation of the PNET Scheme in Hong Kong schools. The evaluation started from an assumption that development in student achievement, improvement in student attitudes, changes in teachers’ attitudes and teaching conditions, and other contextual variables including characteristics of the school, classroom and home background, were inter-related so that over-emphasising one or other of these areas would compromise the value of the research for the provision of policy advice.

Measuring change over time in students’ achievement and attitudes would not, in isolation, provide evidence of the success of the PNET Scheme. Monitoring change and contrast in variables such as teacher attitudes, practices and access to resources and school leadership enabled these to be related to changes in student achievement and attitudes. This in turn allowed policy and professional development strategies to be identified and recommended to the system and to schools.

In 2005, analysis of the student achievement data indicated schools where relationships between styles of NET deployment and student outcomes suggested the usefulness of gathering more in-depth information through visits to the schools (Griffin et al., 2005).

Schools were chosen to participate in qualitative investigations where aggregated data and value-added analyses indicated that students made significantly more or less progress than their similar counterparts in other schools. Twenty-one schools were visited in 2005 and 2006.

Data Collection and Handling Procedures Sampling

The target population was defined as all P1, P2, P3 and P4 students who attended schools participating in the PNET Scheme. The longitudinal nature of the project meant that not all of the students would be taught by a NET in each year of the data collection. The sampling frame was based on a list of schools supplied by EMB, encompassing primary schools located in a wide range of local districts in Hong Kong. Special schools, English Foundation schools and international schools were not included in the sample.

Approximately 15 students were selected at each year level involved in the study in each school. The maximum number of students selected from each school did not exceed 60.

The sampling frame for the study was described in detail in the technical appendix to the 2005 annual report of the evaluation (Griffin et al., 2005).



Sample weights

Sample weights were assigned to each sampling unit (i.e., to participating students). The process of deriving weights was also presented in the technical appendix to the 2005 report (Griffin et al., 2005). The purpose of weighting was to maintain the relative balance between sampling units (students) in order to make proper inferences for the target population. The need to produce reliable estimates for sub-groups of a population required that different sampling weights be applied to those sub-groups. More to the point, any difference in achievement levels between two sub-groups could lead to inaccurate estimation of the overall achievement level, over-emphasising the contribution of students in particular schools or sub-groups. The sampling weights restored the proper balance between sub-groups in order to estimate the overall achievement level. Thus, all outcomes shown in this report were based upon weighted estimates.

Data collection

Responsibility for the data collection in each school was assigned to the School English Teacher (SET) whose role included regularly coordinating activities related to the integration of the NET with the school community. In each year of the study, an evaluation package was sent to the SETs of participating schools. The package included an instruction manual for data collection, all questionnaires and data collection materials, and a manual on procedures for moderation of scores. Data collection procedures were consistent across the three years of the evaluation, and have been described in detail in the technical appendix to the 2005 report (Griffin et al., 2005).

Quality assurance procedures meant that only those data that had been checked and confirmed as gathered and recorded by teachers in accordance with mandated data collection procedures were retained in the data set and used as the basis of system-level analyses.

Who were the Major Players in the PNET Scheme?

The PNET Scheme in Hong Kong could be considered as a set of interconnecting roles and relationships between stakeholders, each with responsibility for improving the teaching and learning of English language proficiency in schools. Placing the student at the centre of these relationships and responsibilities, the major players in the PNET Scheme could be summarised as shown in Figure 1.1.



Advisory Teacher Team, NET Section, EMB AT


Figure 1.1. Major players in the PNET Scheme.

The intended and perceived contributions to English language learning and teaching of the system-based stakeholders (i.e., the Advisory Teacher Team and the Advisory Teachers) and of the NETs are explored in this section of the report. The role of family characteristics and support for children’s English language studies are presented in Chapter 3, while the contributions specific to classrooms and schools are discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, and system-level factors are explored in Chapter 6. Differences in the patterns of deployment observed in the most and least successful schools, in terms of student achievement outcomes, are described in Chapter 7.

Advisory Teacher Team, Native-speaking English Teacher Section

For the duration of the evaluation, the Advisory Teacher Team (ATT), Native-speaking English Teacher Section at the Education and Manpower Bureau was a group of specialist educators, working under the direction of a Principal Inspector, Senior Curriculum Officer, and five Assistant Project Managers (APMs).


LET Classroom


School Leaders,

Students English Panel



APMs were required to be skilled and experienced in the teaching of English and to have experience of teaching in Hong Kong schools. They were recruited on the basis of their experience in working with serving teachers. Within the PNET Scheme their role included providing support materials and professional development to teachers and developing large scale strategies to improve access to resources, particularly for the teaching of reading (the Primary Literacy Programme - Reading for Key Stage 1 was an example of this work). APMs coordinated and supervised the work of a team of Advisory Teachers (ATs) and contributed their particular expertise to the overall objectives of the ATT. The work of the ATT was also supported by an executive team.

This section presents background information on the work of the ATT, as described in interviews with the Principal Inspector and APMs, and examined through the uptake and translation of the relevant aspects of the PNET Scheme initiatives in the schools participating in the evaluation. Other aspects of the PNET Scheme and deployment of NETs, and ways that these were implemented in schools, are discussed in Chapters 4, 5 and 6.

Role and Contributions of the Assistant Project Managers

In addition to their specialised contributions to the overall objectives of the PNET Scheme, the Assistant Project Managers were responsible for coordination of a team of Advisory Teachers who worked directly in schools with local English teachers (LETs), native-speaking English teachers (NETs), and the school English teachers (SETS) who were local teachers with specific responsibility for liaising with the NETs. Some of the central responsibilities undertaken by the Assistant Project Managers related to:

• Pastoral care of NETs with emphasis upon a managerial role, and visiting schools in order to provide NETs, local teachers and schools with support and guidance in their implementation of the PNET Scheme. In direct support of NETs, the APMs played a role in providing advice on managing interpersonal relationships and modelling teaching; they also dealt with NET contractual issues and any misunderstandings that occasionally arose between the NET and the school.

• Professional development, through workshops that were both centrally organised and conducted in schools. A programme of professional development for teachers was developed around a core selection of workshops (e.g., phonics, curriculum development, collaborative teaching practices), with one APM taking primary responsibility for the overall management of the programme. In 2005, the centralised workshops were opened to all local English teachers, and not restricted to those working with NETs. These workshops were valued by schools for their high quality content, and for the opportunities they provided for networking between teachers. The APMs also advised the ATs on ways to cascade good practice to local schools and teachers through school-based workshops, while remaining mindful of each school’s focus and ways to adapt the programmes to fit into the requirements of the individual schools.





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