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Educators in Atlanta surrendering due to massive cheating scandal

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That's why they aren't compared. It's a % reading level of students at their grade level. Judged on their own abilities. Do you have children? My kids elementary school went through a Title I period due to influx of a LOT of kids from another area, but they have improved. Never really has been an issue for my kids because of the specific teachers they either had, our work ethic, or their own ambition. Either way...there have been some discipline issues that have lead to either kids being rerouted to alternative schools or reassignment. Bit of background...Wake County public schools were a mess for decades because towns like Garner were the dumping ground of problem students to spread the scholastic wealth amongst schools to avoid Title I. Then there was a change to busing to avoid these issues so that true trouble districts could be exposed and more funding/help directed to those areas. That pissed off the teachers and they got control back and it's going back the other direction again. One reason I yanked my middle schooler out of public school. My elementary school kid is still in the system because it's a good school, but when the assigned middle school is on the top ten most dangerous schools in Wake County...distractions aren't needed.

No I don't have kids which is why I'm referring to data, not anecdotes.

So you're telling me schools are no longer rewarded for having a higher number of high performing students? If so, then I don't understand this scandal in the least.

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Improvement IS a measurement tool of NCLB

I'm not praising all things NCLB mind you...but the brainless comments about it sometimes come off as white noise.

National Center for Fair and Open Testing

Proponents of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law have charged critics with creating "myths" about the law and have issued their own "facts." It's time to look at the evidence for a reality check on NCLB's claims of success. [1]

THE CLAIM: Proponents say higher test scores prove NCLB is working.

THE REALITY: Rising test scores are primarily the result of repetitive drilling for the narrow content the exams cover, not real educational improvements. Groups that have long struggled, like special education and English language learners and many low-income minority students, continue to do so - in fact, they may be falling further behind.

  • Some state test scores have risen, but reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have not. (NAEP math scores began rising prior to NCLB's passage.) Most test experts agree that score gains on one test mean little if there are not parallel improvements on tests that are not taught to, such as NAEP. [2] Instruction in reading and math increasingly resembles test preparation, which is why scores often rise on state tests, but not on NAEP.

  • Texas is the NCLB model state. Due to a decade of intensive teaching to the TAAS test, scores rose dramatically and the racial score gap narrowed. But the gains were not confirmed and the racial gap did not close on NAEP or on the state's college admissions exam. In fact, Texas colleges reported in-state high school graduates needed more, not less, remediation after high-stakes testing was introduced.

  • Study after study has found that a focus on reading and math tests causes schools to downplay science, history, art, physical education and even recess in order to boost scores.

THE CLAIM: Education Trust and other NCLB proponents say, "[E]arly evidence from states at the forefront of implementing rigorous accountability and instructional support systems demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that public schools are capable of meeting the expectations in the law." [3] Supporters also point to an increase in the number of schools that made "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) under NCLB as evidence of success.

THE REALITY: Based on recent NAEP trends, testing expert Robert Linn says that it would take 166 years for all 12th graders to attain proficiency in both reading and math. Across the nation, researchers and state officials predict 70 to 100 percent of all schools will, sooner or later, fail to make AYP.

  • The major reason why more schools made AYP this year was a series of one-time changes in the way AYP is calculated. These "improvements" do not necessarily represent real learning gains.

  • Due to requirements that all demographic groups make AYP, schools with integrated student bodies are far more likely to fail and be punished than schools that lack diversity.

  • Even NCLB proponents such as Education Trust acknowledge that gains on state tests in the first few years are not fast enough to meet the law's requirements. Most states' NCLB compliance plans require much greater annual score increases in the coming years.

THE CLAIM: President Bush says that tests are needed to diagnose children's difficulties so problems can be caught early and addressed by teachers: "My attitude is, is that in order to know, in order to diagnose a problem, you have to measure it in the first place. You cannot solve a problem until you measure in the first place." [4]

THE REALITY: Catching learning difficulties early is essential. However, one-shot state exams are not good diagnostic tools.

  • To find out whether a child is having trouble in a particular area, such as multiplying fractions, a few questions on a state test do not provide enough information.

  • Children struggle academically for a variety of reasons. State tests do not provide any useful information on why an individual child may be having trouble, so the tests cannot help teachers figure out what to do differently to help that child.

THE CLAIM: NCLB proponents say the law holds schools accountable to parents and empowers them with useful data about their schools' performance.

THE REALITY: NCLB actually reduces local control and increases the control of distant bureaucrats. Because it reduces the gauge of school improvement to standardized test scores in reading and math, NCLB can't answer the main questions on most parents' minds: How is my child doing overall, and does my child's school offer what he needs to be well educated, happy and successful?

  • Many parents receive contradictory information about the quality of their child's school, e.g., state tests concluding the schools are improving and federal data saying they're getting worse. Many parents are left confused about what the data really means.

THE CLAIM: President Bush says the law empowers parents by letting them transfer their children out of ineffective schools or obtain tutoring.

THE REALITY: The law has done little more than label schools "in need of improvement," leaving many parents with no real options.

  • In large cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and in smaller districts, very few seats for transfers are available in schools making AYP.

  • Most "tutoring" is little more than test preparation, not real learning; unlike teachers, tutors do not have to be "highly qualified"; and money for tutoring is taken out of schools' NCLB Title I funds, reducing support for most students.

THE CLAIM: U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige said that NCLB only asks "that a third-grade child read at a third-grade level," and defines "proficiency" as basic grade-level capability.

THE REALITY: The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) proficiency standards, on which NCLB is based, are set so high that it will be impossible for most schools to reach them.

  • Multiple independent studies of how NAEP set proficiency levels found that the procedures were flawed, resulting in absurdly high cut-off points. In other words, "proficient" on NAEP means a score well above what is typically considered "grade level."

  • A federal Government Accountability Office study found that states vary wildly in how they define proficiency. "Proficient" is far easier to reach in some states than in others. The differing percentage of students scoring proficient therefore does not reflect the relative academic health of their schools and students.

THE CLAIM: NCLB provides the tools schools and districts need to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

THE REALITY: Once a school or district is labeled "in need of improvement" because it has not met test score targets for two years, a series of progressively more severe sanctions are set in motion, ending with "restructuring," which may mean that a school's staff is replaced or the school is put under private management.

  • The law focuses on punishment and blame, rather than on increasing the capacity of state education agencies and school districts to fully address the needs of struggling schools and their students.

  • There is no evidence from previous experience that the types of interventions listed by NCLB - firing teachers, privatizing school management, having the state run the school, forcing a school to be a charter school - have consistently improved schools. For example, a report from the pro-NCLB, pro-privatization Fordham Foundation found that replacing staff simply did not work.

THE CLAIM: U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige says the law is adequately funded and federal expenditures have risen rapidly.

THE REALITY: Funding remains woefully inadequate for the goal of leaving no child behind.

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures calculated the gap between funds authorized and appropriated by Congress for NCLB at nearly $20 billion for just the two years 2004 and 2005.

  • If the nation is serious about leaving no child behind, then it must not only provide adequate school funding - which some experts say would mean an additional $84.5 billion per year for low-income schools - but also address issues of nutrition, health care, housing and community stability that so often make it hard for children to learn in school.

The requirements of NCLB were to be implemented by 2006. In the summer of 2006 it was evident that there were difficulties in complying with the law.

An early issue was the requirement that schools report test scores by racial subgroup. Nearly two dozen states had been granted waivers in reporting by subgroups. Other schools avoided the problem by determining that numbers of students in racial subgroups were too small to be statistically significant. Their scores were not included (Rebora, 2006).

The law also provided that states would implement standards-based assessments in reading and math by 2006. Ten states were notified in 2006 that a portion of state administrative funds would be withheld for failing to comply fully with NCLB. Twenty-five states might also lose a portion of their aid if they didn’t comply fully with NCLB and comply with the testing requirement by the end of the school year. The monetary penalties caught many states by surprise. In addition, states had difficulty providing the extensive documentation required to demonstrate that the tests met that state’s academic standards (Olson, 2006). Further, states had to demonstrate how they were including students with disabilities and English language learners (ELLs) in their testing system. This included developing alternative assessments when needed. When combined with concerns about testing young children in the early childhood years, NCLB had an impact on all populations of students, including those in the preschool years.

Concerns About Testing Young Children in Early ChildhoodSettings

The increased use of testing at all levels has been an issue in American education, but the testing of young children is of particular concern. Standardized tests and other assessment measures are now being used in preschool, kindergarten, and primary grades to determine whether children will be admitted to preschool programs, promoted to the next grade, or retained. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, tests were used to determine whether students should be promoted from kindergarten to first grade or placed in a “transitional” first grade. Although this practice is now less popular, it persists in some school districts and states (Smith, 1999). In 2000, the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) was concerned about the continuing trend to deny children entry to kindergarten and first grade. They issued a position statement, “Still! Unacceptable Trends in Kindergarten Entry and Placement” (National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education [NAECS/SDE], 2000). This continuing effort to advocate appropriate assessment of very young children was endorsed by the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 2001).

By 2006 states used a wide range of types of assessments with young children entering public school. Screening tests were in use in many states for hearing and vision as well as developmental assessments and readiness tests. Many states conducted screening to identify children at risk for failing to succeed in school and/or developmental disorders or disabilities. Some states met the criteria for developmentally appropriate assessments, while others did not. For example, California required observation and portfolio materials in preschool assessments. On the other hand, Georgia students were tested for first-grade readiness at the end of the kindergarten year to determine grade placement (Education Commission of the States, 2006).

The announcement by President Bush in 2003 that all Head Start students would be given a national standardized test assessment raised new concerns. At issue were validity and reliability of tests for preschool children (Nagle, 2000) and whether such “high-stakes” testing should be used to evaluate the quality of Head Start programs (Shepard, et al., 1998). Policy makers had to address these and other concerns about appropriate assessment of young children in their decisions about how to evaluate preschool programs that receive federal funding (McMaken, 2003).

In February 2003 a large group of early childhood experts wrote their congressional representatives to express their concerns about the impending test. They made the following points:

The test is too narrow.

The test may reduce the comprehensive services that ensure the success of Head Start.

The test is shifting resources away from other needs within Head Start.

Testing should be used to strengthen teaching practices, not evaluate a program, and should in no way be linked to program funding (Fair Test, 2003; NAEYC, 2004).

In September 2003 the new test, the National Reporting System (NRS) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] Head Start Bureau, 2003), was administered by the Head Start Bureau in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families to more than 400,000 children ages 4 and 5 and continues to be administered each year. In 2005 when Head Start funding was being considered, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the NRS. The report said that the NRS had not shown that it provides reliable information on children’s progress during the Head Start program year, especially for Spanish-speaking children. Moreover, the NRS had not shown that its results are valid measures of the learning that takes place in the program. In its recommendations, the GAO required that the Head Start Bureau establish validity and reliability for the NRS. As a result the NRS was not to be used for accountability purposes related to program funding (Crawford, 2005; Government Accountability Office [GAO], 2005). Because the Bush administration reportedly intended to use the NRS to establish accountability requirements similar to NCLB, this GAO finding essentially halted use of the test for that purpose.

Concerns About Testing Young Children with Cultural and Language Differences

A concurrent concern related to current trends and practices in the assessment of young children is the question of how appropriate our tests and assessment strategies are in the terms of the diversity of young children attending early childhood programs. Socioeconomic groups are changing dramatically and rapidly in our society, with an expansion of the poorer class and a corresponding shrinking of the middle class (Raymond & McIntosh, 1992). At the same time, an increase in minority citizens has occurred as the result of the continuing influx of people from other countries, especially Southeast Asia and Central and South America. Moreover, Hispanic families are no longer concentrated in the Southwest; their growth in many parts of the country has caused new communities to have unprecedented high percentages of Hispanic children. Seventy-nine percent of young ELLs in public schools speak Spanish. In addition, approximately 460 languages are represented in schools and programs in the United States, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Armenian, and Hmong (Biggar, 2005; Lopez, Salas, & Flores, 2005). Assessment of the developmental progress of children from these groups is particularly important if their learning needs are to be identified and addressed.

Evidence shows that standardized test scores have had a high correlation to parents’ occupations, level of education, the location of the student’s elementary school, and the family’s income bracket. Moreover, students from limited English backgrounds tend to score lower on reading and language fluency tests in English. They typically perform better on computational portions of mathematics tests (Wesson, 2001). The fairness of existing tests for children who are school disadvantaged and linguistically and culturally diverse indicates the need for alternative assessment strategies for young children (Biggar, 2005; Goodwin & Goodwin, 1993, 1997). A major issue in the 21st century is appropriate measurement and evaluation strategies that will enhance, rather than diminish, the potential for achievement.

The history of assessment of minorities who are bilingual students or learning English as a second language is one of potential bias. Children have been and continue to be tested in their nondominant language (English) or with instruments that were validated on an Anglo, middle-class sample of children. As a result, many Hispanic preschool children were and are still regularly diagnosed as developmentally delayed and placed in special education (Lopez et al., 2005). The issue of appropriate assessment of these children was addressed by court cases such as Diana v. California State Board of Education (1968) and Lau v. Nichols (1974). More recently the NCLB and the Head Start NRS have addressed the issue of testing English language learners (Crawford, 2005; David, 2005; GAO, 2005).

The impact of NCLB on testing ELLs has resulted in the development of new English language proficiency tests based on new standards adopted by each state. More important, the tests measure the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of ELLs (Zehr, 2006). In the summer of 2006 five states had failed to meet the Department of Education’s deadline to have tests in place. While some states designed their own tests, other states adopted tests designed by consortia or testing corporations. Nevertheless, because test development and implementation were still in the beginning stages, little was known about the validity and reliability of the tests and whether the tests met the requirements of the law.

U.S. Says Language Exam Does not Comply with Law

The state of New York was one of the states that did not meet the requirements of NCLB. In July 2006, the national Department of Education reported that New York’s methods for testing students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency had to be corrected within a year or the state would risk losing $1.2 million in school aid.

There were many concerns with the ruling because students with limited English would have to take the regular reading test rather than the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test. New York state officials replied that they were in the process of addressing the problem, but they were concerned about the large number of students who would fail the regular reading test. As a result, many more schools would receive low ratings under NCLB policies.

Source: Herszenhorn, D. (2006, July 11). U.S. says language exam does not comply with law Retrieved July 12, 2006 from

The New York example reveals the complexity of the assessment of ELLs. The New York State test was designed to measure language acquisition, while the tests meeting NCLB measured English language skills. This was true for bilingual and ELL programs throughout the United States prior to NCLB. It would take many years to develop and validate tests that would resolve how to assess the language skills of limited-English speakers that were comparable with tests for English-speaking students.

Assessment of young children who are from families that are culturally and linguistically diverse must include many dimensions of diversity. It is not useful to proceed with assessment that is culturally fair for Hispanic or Asian populations generally. The many variations within communities and cultures must be considered, among them the educational background of the parents and the culture of the immediate community of the family. Congruence between the individual cultural perceptions of the assessors and the children being assessed, even when both are from the same culture or language population, must also be considered (Barrera, 1996). Many types of information, including the child’s background and the use of assessments, must be combined to determine a picture of the child that reflects individual, group, and family cultural characteristics (Lopez et al., 2005).

Concerns About Testing Young Children with Disabilities

The use of testing for infants and young children with disabilities cannot be avoided. Indeed, Meisels, Steele, and Quinn-Leering (1993) reflected that not all tests used are bad. Nevertheless, Greenspan, Meisels, and others (1996) believe assessments used with infants and young children have been borrowed from assessment methodology used with older children and do not represent meaningful information about their developmental achievements and capacities. Misleading test scores are being used for decisions about services, educational placements, and intervention programs. These developmental psychologists propose that assessment should be based on current understanding of development and use structured tests as one part of an integrated approach that includes observing the child’s interactions with trusted caregivers. Assessment should be based on multiple sources of information that reflect the child’s capacities and competencies and better indicate what learning environments will best provide intervention services for the child’s optimal development.

Play-based assessment is one major source of information among the multiple sources recommended. Play assessment is nonthreatening and can be done unobtrusively. Moreover, during play, children can demonstrate skills and abilities that might not be apparent in other forms of assessment. Children’s ability to initiate and carry out play schemes and use play materials can add significant information (Fewell & Rich, 1987; Segal & Webber, 1996).

In transdisciplinary play-based assessment, a team that includes parents observes the child at play. Each member of the team observes an area of development. During the assessment the child’s developmental level, learning styles, patterns of interaction, and other behaviors are observed (Linder, 1993).

NCLB has had an impact on curriculum and assessment of children with disabilities. While identification of children can begin very early in life, the needs of the children as they enter public education are not usually identified until first grade. However, during the last ten years, the nature and objectives of kindergarten have changed because of advances in knowledge about what young children are capable of learning and the advent of the standards-based accountability movement. Kindergarteners are taught and tested on the mastery of academic standards. This change in expectations has affected the kindergarten year for children at risk for learning disabilities. The kindergarten year formerly was used to work with at-risk children and refer them for testing at the end of the year. When they reached first grade they would be referred for identification and possible special education services. Children with disabilities or who are at risk for learning problems now need identification and services earlier than first grade. Identification of disabilities and referral for services should now be considered for the kindergarten year, even if some disabilities are difficult to identify in early childhood (Litty & Hatch, 2006).

The NCLB Act also added accountability measures to IDEA. School districts must test at least 95 percent of students with disabilities and incorporate their test scores into school ratings. There has been strong public reaction to the inclusion of special education students in state testing and reporting. Some policy makers see this provision as an important step in every child receiving a high-quality education. Critics worry that the law is not flexible enough to meet individual needs of students with disabilities. Many teachers felt that special education students should not be expected to meet the same set of academic content standards as regular education students. These issues were yet to be resolved when the final regulations were published in August 2006 for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (Education Week, n.d.; U.S. Department of Education, 2006).

Excerpt from Assessment in Early Childhood Education, by S.C. Wortham, 2008 edition, p. 12-19.

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First off...this is bs. NCLB was to give empowerment to parents to allow their kids to escape failing schools. If the school wasn't meeting the basic goals, it would go into Title 1 where MORE emphasis is put on that particular school to bring them up. If they continued to fail, the parent would then be offerred the option to move. The grades for funding bs is exactly If a teacher truly cared about the student, they'd want them out of a failing school too...even if it were their own.

You can go back to two Americas too. Anyone with any semblence of intelligence should've recognized it's near impossible to achieve the grade changes this particular system saw. Incremental? Sure. But this was ridiculous and it wouldn't take much to take a sample of kids and find out that something went awry.

So you're claiming that there is no benefit to a school if they get higher test scores? I dont see why all these principals are cheating then.

Bottom line, the more emphasis you put on standardized test performance, the more teachers will teach test taking skills instead of real teaching. When I was in elementary school, the last month or 2 of the school year we would spend learning tricks for taking multiple choice tests- thats a huge waste of time

Look, I dont claim to know how to fix our schools, but I know that putting more and more focus on standardized tests is not going to work. You need to encourage parental involvement, because if the parents dont care than the kid wont either. Not sure how you would do that, since schools I went to were already doing everything in their power to get parents involved

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At least NCLB was an attempt to do something about education. It wasn't a law passed and then the details were looked at afterwords.

You DO have to have some systematic metrics in place and yes it doesn't paint the whole picture.

My frustration is because this is political its hard for one side to give credit to the other if something works. This goes foe the new health care stuff.

You want more parental involvement then you need to have tougher conversations and not worry about being labeled.

You literally need to have a 3rd party to work with the schools/teachers and parents and bring them both to the table.

You need to be truthful about funding and how more money doesn't equate to better grades or results. Just look at Charlotte alone and the data shows some of the worst performing schools get the most per pupil spending.

It begins and ends at home.

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NCLB was a bipartisan effort that then was not funded properly. Probably because it was a bipartisan effort.

Just listen to what G5 is saying. It's about letting parents white flight their kids out of minority populated schools, and is meant to pair with the private school voucher system, so rich white kids can keep hanging out with rich white kids and the poor schools will continue to fail, because they get all the poor kids with parents that have to work 2 jobs and can't properly check homework or volunteer for the PTA.

Some level of testing is OK with me as a simple benchmark, but the way it is done here in North Carolina takes teaching out of the hands of teachers, allows for no creativity in the classroom, and is designed for the sole purpose of getting lawmakers involved with education for their own ends. There's no doubt my stepkids are going to come out of the system less ready for the world with these tests than without, but hey, at least politicians can say they have some paperwork telling me otherwise.

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As usual CWG...I ask a simple question. You don't answer it and go on another ignorant diatribe.

Without some standardized testing, how do you measure the effectiveness of a school's and teacher's teaching?

You cannot just look at a student's grades at a school. Schools can have very different quality standards.

I understand the issues with having raises, funding, etc tied to just a standardized test. You get the corruption that we see in Atlanta. The standardized test scores should not be the only evaluating factor. But, it should be part of the process.

My question to YOU is what do you think would be a better system. If you are too stupid to answer it intelligently (which is pretty evident by your continuous posts that say nothing), we would just prefer that you sit over in the corner and just shut the fug up.

I'm sure you would like to put me in a corner

We managed without these stupid tests for quite a while, although you may be unaware due to your repeated demonstration of a lack of historical knowledge. Back in the olden days of beepers and Nirvana, principals and school staff were somehow able to eliminate bad teachers. Schools with overall issues like graduation rates, violence. poor parental feedback had their administrative staff replaced. You know, kind of like how our great capitalist system works.

Even the Republican morons in office today introducing stupid new laws on "tenure" (which is not what people apparently think it is here in NC) acknowledge that there is not really anything to go on with this idea, like everything else, its a pandering law to demonstrate that lawmakers are hard on lazy, mostly Democratic voting, freeloading teachers who would join an America hating union if not for their valiant efforts.

Again, you show yourself as you tell us that you don't trust a teacher or a school to tell us how our kids are doing, but Big Government is doing that just fine.

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I'm sure you would like to put me in a corner

We managed without these stupid tests for quite a while, although you may be unaware due to your repeated demonstration of a lack of historical knowledge. Back in the olden days of beepers and Nirvana, principals and school staff were somehow able to eliminate bad teachers. Schools with overall issues like graduation rates, violence. poor parental feedback had their administrative staff replaced. You know, kind of like how our great capitalist system works.

Even the Republican morons in office today introducing stupid new laws on "tenure" (which is not what people apparently think it is here in NC) acknowledge that there is not really anything to go on with this idea, like everything else, its a pandering law to demonstrate that lawmakers are hard on lazy, mostly Democratic voting, freeloading teachers who would join an America hating union if not for their valiant efforts.

Again, you show yourself as you tell us that you don't trust a teacher or a school to tell us how our kids are doing, but Big Government is doing that just fine.

The standardized testing was put into place because you cannot compare a grade at one school to the same grade at another school. Why do you think colleges put a lot of weight to SAT's and ACT's? Because they are a method to evaluate what a kid learned and measure all kids equally.

But hey.....I guess you know more than all of those pesky universities too.

Your ignorance is just amazing.

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Oh, so what you are saying is that we already have a system in place for standardized testing where it counts.


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why are school boards and council people so afraid to focus on the at home break down of education?

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Garner isn't a rich area CWG...

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