Virtual School Meanderings

June 25, 2017

Research Alliance Tackles Wisconsin’s Black-White Achievement Gap

From Wednesday’s inbox…

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REL Midwest Research Update
Deb Gurke and Kyle FaganMessage from the partnership facilitator and research liaison
Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (Wisconsin DPI) to form the Midwest Achievement Gap Research Alliance (MAGRA). Knowing Wisconsin has the largest Black-White achievement gap in the country, Wisconsin DPI identified this issue as the focus of the alliance. The alliance will develop and carry out a 3- to 5-year research agenda that will help identify effective practices for closing this achievement gap and build on work underway at the department. The alliance seeks to produce research and engage in activities that will impact this long-standing issue in the state of Wisconsin. Fortunately, we have individuals and organizations from various contexts working collaboratively on strategies.The alliance has representation from all levels of the education system in Wisconsin, including Wisconsin DPI, cooperative educational service agencies, districts, and schools. The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Great Lakes Equity Center also are engaged in the work. In addition, the Wisconsin National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has two members working on the alliance. We are excited and honored to be working with this group of people who bring so much passion, commitment, and experience to the challenge of closing the Black-White achievement gap.

We hope you enjoy the following articles and resources, which provide insight into our current and upcoming work.—Deb Gurke, partnership facilitator, and Kyle Fagan, research liaison

 


How will MAGRA tackle the achievement gap?
MAGRA will launch two projects in 2017 that support Wisconsin DPI’s continued efforts to close the Black-White achievement gap.In partnership with the MAGRA membership, REL Midwest researchers will conduct a systematic review of research literature on strategies that effectively reduce the Black-White achievement gap. The review will examine what strategies improve educational outcomes for Black students, key characteristics of successful interventions, and which interventions can be applied across a variety of contexts. This literature review will be posted to the REL Midwest website in late 2017.

REL Midwest also will support the MAGRA membership with in-depth coaching and consultation. Although Wisconsin currently has a framework for closing the achievement gap between students of color and their peers, the complexity and number of approaches to closing the achievement gap make coordination and evaluation difficult. Wisconsin DPI and alliance members have asked REL Midwest to perform an environmental scan of current efforts to close the achievement gap in Wisconsin. The hope is that a shared understanding of the challenge will allow Wisconsin DPI and its partners to enhance how they work together to close the achievement gap in the state.

 


Task force asks successful educators to share insights about closing the achievement gap
The achievement gap, or the difference in academic performance among different groups of students, poses a significant problem to students and states alike. Faced with data from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress showing Wisconsin had the widest race-based achievement gaps in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics, State Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers convened a task force to address this persistent and troubling issue. The outcomes of the task force’s work have informed MAGRA’s research agenda and planned efforts.The Promoting Excellence for All: State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap included 18 educators—superintendents, principals, teachers, curriculum coordinators, and instructional coaches—from traditional public, charter, and private schools with demonstrated success in closing the achievement gap. With research and facilitation support from the Midwest Comprehensive Center and Wisconsin DPI, this group shared and brainstormed strategies, resources, and policy changes to address the achievement gap. Specifically, the task force sought to:

  • Examine and recommend proactive instructional strategies to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin.
  • Develop resources for Wisconsin practitioners working to close achievement gaps in their schools and districts.
  • Recommend local board policy changes that can support efforts to close achievement gaps in Wisconsin schools.

The task force’s work culminated in two products: a report and an eCourse.

  • The report (PDF) breaks down the task force’s beliefs, support from the research, and recommended strategies into four categories: effective instruction, student-teacher relationships, family and community engagement, and school and instructional leadership.
  • The eCourse is designed to help educators deepen their understanding and use of proven strategies to close the achievement gap. It comprises three learning modules: Understanding Race in Education, Exploring the Data, and Using the Strategies.

MAGRA member Allison DeGraaf, principal at Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville, Wisconsin, participated in the task force and sees Promoting Excellence for All as a foundation for the alliance’s research on the achievement gap.

“When the task force completed these resources, we knew the work couldn’t stop there. We hoped it would start further work,” said DeGraaf. “I think the alliance can dig deeper into the research and figure out resources, action steps, and strategies to continue to support schools in Wisconsin doing this work.”

Visit Wisconsin DPI’s Promoting Excellence for All website to access comprehensive information and resources. We also encourage you to stay up-to-date with REL Midwest’s related work on closing the achievement gap in Wisconsin and other Midwest states.

 


Chrishirella Warthen-SuttonMeet the alliance member: Chrishirella Warthen-Sutton, Ph.D.
MAGRA member Chrishirella Warthen-Sutton, Ph.D., is the manager of the Office of Family and Community Engagement for the Racine Unified School District in southeastern Wisconsin. The state’s fifth-largest district, Racine includes 31 schools that serve a diverse population of 19,455 students. Working across this large district, Warthen-Sutton designs, directs, and evaluates programs and services to promote year-round strategic engagement of families and communities.When asked why she joined MAGRA, Dr. Warthen-Sutton said she feels a sense of urgency to develop ideas for narrowing the Black-White gap in education access and opportunity in Wisconsin. She cites the severity of the gap and the many challenges facing the state’s Black students. “The soaring unemployment rate, marginal career and college readiness, health care disparities, and unprecedented incarceration rates continue to plague Wisconsin’s Black community,” she explains. “The progress is bleak statewide, given the national and state measures signifying that Wisconsin is the worst state in the nation for a Black child to be educated.”

Through her work with MAGRA, Dr. Warthen-Sutton hopes to broaden the discourse by examining the achievement gap through the lenses of equity, social justice, and cultural competency. “The identifiable challenge is that there are many teachers who are not culturally competent,” she notes. “Belief systems shape a person’s worldview of others who are culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse…. Cultural responsiveness has the potential to shift mindsets and influence practices that affirm and acknowledge the brilliance of Black children.”

In working with education-based community organizations, Dr. Warthen-Sutton has learned the power of personal stories, experiences, and perspectives to broaden people’s understanding of equity and race, as well as the value of courageous conversations. “Many efforts to address Black student achievement fail due to the lack of courage to isolate and name race as a primary contributing factor,” she explains.

On both a professional and personal level, Dr. Warthen-Sutton hopes her involvement with the alliance will advance her capacity to consider robust ways to address the access and opportunity gap for Black students in an intentional and deliberate manner. “In order to be a champion for children, we must be accountable for the detrimental consequences of allowing them to fall through the cracks.”

 


Resources and events

Promoting Excellence for All: A Report from the State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap (PDF)
This Wisconsin DPI report identifies classroom-centered best practices intended to address Wisconsin’s achievement gaps. The task force was composed of representatives from schools with narrowing achievement gaps or quickly growing achievement rates for students of color.

Understanding Race in Education: Promoting Excellence for All E-Module
This module, developed by Wisconsin DPI and the Minority Student Achievement Network, explores perceptions of race and subsequent effects on the education system. Teachers can use this module to create positive and inclusive interactions with students, families, and community members.

Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Achievement Resource Center
The Great Lakes Comprehensive Center Achievement Resource Center offers resources to support educators in their efforts to help African-American young men reach their full potential. Content is organized by five topic areas: data trends and use, instructional support, models of success, thought leaders, and social-emotional support.

Tribal Consultation Under Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Briefs
Research shows that when schools partner with tribal communities and incorporate culture into the curriculum, American Indian students have a greater chance of academic success. The Midwest Comprehensive Center created two briefs to support the meaningful tribal consultation required under ESSA: Tribal Consultation Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Guide for Tribal Leaders and Communities (PDF) and Tribal Consultation Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: A Guide for Affected Districts (PDF).

Culturally Responsive Resources for Native Students
This REL Southwest webinar examines two high-quality online repositories of culturally responsive education resources for Native students.

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606                       
This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

 

This e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

March 29, 2017

Welcome To The 2017-2022 Contract!

Note that the REL MidWest has historically been one of the more active RELs when it comes to the K-12 distance, online and blended learning (going back to the days of Learning Point Associates and Bob Blomeyer).

To view this email as a web page, go here.

 

REL Midwest Research Update
Julie KochanekMessage from the director
Welcome to the new Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest at American Institutes for Research 2017-2022 contract! As we start our third month of work on this five-year contract, we are in full start-up mode. We have five major research partnerships with members (more on the partnerships in the video below) convening for the first time and negotiating long-term research agendas while also planning out their first 18 months of work. Our emergent partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has a research study in development and is planning how best to leverage the REL Midwest work to secure additional funding to launch a sustainable research alliance for the district. In addition, we are planning emergent work with leadership teams at the Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio Departments of Education.It is an exciting time full of enthusiastic conversations about the many possibilities for meaningful, relevant work with our engaged stakeholders. It also is a busy time as project planning progresses in tandem with the many conversations we are having to recruit and convene partners. By the second quarter of this year, we will have research agendas that will serve as roadmaps for the work of our major partnerships moving forward. We also will have early projects in the works that will provide us with insights to guide our future efforts.We value this journey with you as our partner in this important work. Take a few minutes to read this first newsletter as an introduction to REL Midwest’s various initiatives under the new contract, and stay tuned for more updates each month.—Julie Kochanek, Ph.D.

 


Get to know REL Midwest
Watch our short animated video to learn about REL Midwest’s work in the 2017-2022 contract!

State liaisons available to discuss opportunities to work with REL Midwest
REL Midwest’s state liaisons serve as key points of contact for professional associations, nonprofits, state education agencies, governors’ offices, and members of the states’ legislatures. Our state liaisons work to make sure that those stakeholders in the region who are not currently involved in our collaborative research partnerships take advantage of the free research, coaching, training, and technical support that REL Midwest can provide. In addition to connecting stakeholders with REL Midwest support, our state liaisons work to stay informed of the states’ ever-changing policy landscapes to anticipate needs. REL Midwest’s state liaisons look forward to scheduling visits and forming many more short- and long-term collaborative research partnerships throughout each of our seven states over the next five years. Please let us know if you would like to schedule a meeting to learn more about REL Midwest’s work or to discuss an immediate research need by contacting Carrie Scholz at cscholz@air.org or (414) 267-7849.

New service evaluates education studies with ESSA levels of evidence
REL Midwest is offering a new service to states in its region in the 2017-2022 contract: reviewing studies to determine how they measure up against the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) levels of evidence. ESSA requires education leaders to factor research evidence into their decisions about activities, strategies, or other interventions designed to improve student outcomes. This research evidence must meet a level of evidence established under ESSA: strong, moderate, or promising. These levels of evidence indicate the type and quality of the study and its findings. REL Midwest will support states by reviewing requested studies to determine if they meet one of the three levels of evidence and, if so, which level. All the RELs will offer this service to the states in their respective regions. Please contact REL Midwest director Julie Kochanek at jkochanek@air.org or (312) 283-2312 if you would like to work with REL Midwest to evaluate an education study.

Latest publications from REL Midwest

Strategies for estimating teacher supply and demand using student and teacher data (December 2016)
This report summarizes the four-step process that the Minnesota Department of Education and REL Midwest followed in redesigning the state’s teacher supply and demand study to increase its utility for stakeholders.

State strategies to facilitate adult learners’ transitions to postsecondary opportunities (January 2017)
This study catalogs the array of strategies that Midwest states use to support adult learners’ transitions to postsecondary opportunities.

Characteristics and postsecondary pathways of students who participate in acceleration programs in Minnesota (February 2017)
This study examines participation in the various acceleration programs available to Minnesota high school students, including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate coursework, postsecondary enrollment options, concurrent enrollment, and other/unknown programs.

The “I” in QRIS Survey: Collecting data on quality improvement activities for early childhood education programs (February 2017)
This survey is intended for state education agencies that want to collect data on the quality improvement activities and strategies used by early childhood education programs that are participating in a quality rating and improvement system.

Impacts of Ramp-Up to Readiness™ after one year of implementation (March 2017)
This study examined whether the Ramp-Up to Readiness program (Ramp-Up) produced impacts on high school students’ college enrollment actions and personal college readiness following one year of program implementation. The study also looked at Ramp-Up’s impact on more immediate outcomes, such as the emphasis placed on college readiness and the amount of college-related teacher-student interactions taking place in high schools.

Postsecondary education expectations and attainment of rural and nonrural students (March 2017)
This study examined rural-nonrural differences in postsecondary educational expectations, the attainment of expectations for grade 10 students attending rural and nonrural high schools in the REL Midwest region, and how these differences compare with rural-nonrural differences in the rest of the nation.

Quality improvement efforts among early childhood education programs participating in Iowa’s Quality Rating System (March 2017)
This study examined the use and outcomes of quality improvement activities among early childhood education programs participating in the Iowa Quality Rating System.

Reflections from a professional learning community for researchers working in research alliances (March 2017)
This publication shares lessons learned about the common challenges that REL Midwest researchers brought to a professional learning community, the strategies they identified to address the challenges, and the tools used to ultimately overcome those shared challenges. The lessons highlighted in this document are observations made by the professional learning community members and senior REL Midwest staff during the 2012-2017 REL contract.

 


Federal network of research and technical assistance centers
The REL Program is part of a larger network of research and technical assistance centers funded through the U.S. Department of Education. These centers work closely with one another to align efforts and connect state education agencies (SEAs), districts, and schools with current education research and high-quality resources.

  • Four regional Equity Assistance Centers, funded under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, assist public school districts in the areas of race, gender, national origin, and religion to promote equal education opportunities. The Great Lakes Equity Center serves the states in the Midwest region.
  • The Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network comprises centers and projects funded by the Office of Special Education Programs to provide information and technical assistance on a range of special education topics, including parenting children with special needs, positive behavior support, and dispute resolution.

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.
REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
10 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60606                       

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

 

This e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

December 21, 2016

Looking Back On The 2012-16 Contract

From yesterday’s inbox…

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REL Midwest Research Update
Mission
To use data and research to improve academic outcomes for students and provide support for a more evidence-reliant education system.
Julie KochanekMessage from the Director
As we come to the end of our five years of work under the 2012-2016 Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest contract, it is a great time to reflect on what we accomplished together and to acknowledge all those involved. During this time, we developed seven research alliances and one community of practice of stakeholders who negotiated research agendas to guide our work. One hundred forty-nine alliance members convened quarterly to monthly to discuss the challenges and strategies involved in their work, relevant research and resources, and findings from REL Midwest projects. Through these alliances, members built bridges across the seven states in the region and across levels of the education system including schools, districts, regional agencies, state education agencies, nonprofit organizations, and postsecondary institutions. We thank you for this significant investment of time and energy to participate in the core guidance of our work.Read more  Read more


REL Midwest by the numbers
It has been a busy and productive five years! Check out our video and infographic to see an overview of our work and accomplishments throughout the contract.

Watch Video  Watch Video         Infographic  Infographic


Message from the Research Alliance Manager
Our work would not have been possible without strong alliance members committed to improving practice, alliance leads committed to facilitating a collaborative relationship between researchers and practitioners, and researchers with technical expertise who strive to co-develop and conduct projects that will answer alliance members’ questions.

Read more  Read more


College and career success research bridges alliances
REL Midwest’s work on college and career success has intersected with three research alliances—the College and Career Success Research Alliance, the Dropout Prevention Research Alliance, and the Rural Research Alliance. Here are some of the activities and projects you should know about for each of these alliances.

Read more  Read more


Strong foundation supports success of the Virtual Education Research Alliance
The researchers and practitioners who make up the Virtual Education Research Alliance sought to answer questions that would shed light on how to best support students taking online courses. Learn about the alliance’s work and the factors that drove its successful collaborative research efforts.

Read more  Read more


Highlights from the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance
The work of the Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance spans teacher mobility across states, teacher and principal evaluation, and teacher leadership. Read blog posts, watch videos, and access archived webinars covering highlights of the alliance’s work.

Read more  Read more


Researchers investigate quality in early childhood education
Early childhood education has been one of REL Midwest’s regional priorities since 2012. Learn about the progression of REL Midwest’s work on quality rating and improvement systems to improve early childhood education.

Read more  Read more


Collaboration for success: Michigan networked improvement community
REL Midwest partnered with the Michigan Department of Education, intermediate school districts, local school districts, and schools to form a networked improvement community (NIC). Find out more about the process and the experiences of the NIC members.

Read more  Read more


Popular REL Midwest resources
As we wrap up the contract, we rounded up our most popular and useful resources. Check out the list!

Read more  Read more

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.       
 

REL Midwest at American Institutes for Research
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0004 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

 

This e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007-3835 USA

September 30, 2016

Join Us for a Webinar on Teacher Leadership

While not K-12 distance, online and blended learning related, this might be of interest to readers.

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Join Us for a Free Webinar on Encouraging and Practicing Teacher Leadership.

October 25, 2016
12–1 p.m. Central Time
1–2 p.m. Eastern Time

Register Button

On October 25, 2016, Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest and its Educator Effectiveness Research Alliance will host a webinar to discuss strategies for engaging in and encouraging teacher leadership.

The event will feature a presentation by REL Midwest researcher Elizabeth Barkowski, Ph.D., who will review current research on teacher leadership. Dr. Barkowski will highlight potential gaps in the research and will discuss opportunities for further investigation. In addition, American Institutes for Research researcher Catherine Jacques will provide recommendations on how schools and districts can encourage teacher leadership activities and will share state examples. Finally, Caitlin Beatson, Indiana Department of Education, will describe teacher leadership programs in Indiana—how they work, who participates, and what advances in programming the state envisions going forward.

Throughout the webinar, participants will be able to engage with one another and to participate in an interactive question-and-answer conversation with the panelists.

Topical Objectives

  • Participants will build their understanding of the teacher leadership research landscape, including potential research gaps and the limitations of available research on teacher leadership.
  • Participants will learn about policy levers that can increase and improve teacher leadership opportunities in their schools, districts, and states.
  • Participants will gain insight into Indiana Department of Education’s proactive approach to teacher leadership programming and development.

For questions or additional information, please contact Megan Norris by telephone (312-690-7373) or e-mail (mnorris@air.org).

This e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC, 20007-3835 USA

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August 27, 2016

Research Update: MPS Brings Partners Into Evaluation Planning Process

Also from Thursday’s inbox…

To view this email as a web page, go here.
REL Midwest Research Update
Alliance Goal:
To identify and develop tools to improve the feedback that school- and district-level personnel receive about teacher practices
and student outcomes.
Deb GurkeMessage From the Alliance Lead
Welcome to the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) MidwestUrban District Community of Practice (CoP) newsletter. I have been part of the CoP since October 2015. It has been a privilege to engage in conversations with research directors from several large urban districts.Over the past several months, we have focused on understanding continuous improvement. Although at its most basic level continuous improvement is about acknowledging what works and identifying and addressing what could be better, there are important concepts to understand if you want to get the most out of your continuous improvement efforts. To strengthen their knowledge, the Urban District CoP members read a white paper on continuous improvement in education and discussed their role in the process as well as the need for others in the district to be committed to the work, too. We also talked about practical measurement and how it differs from measurement for accountability and theory building.

In addition, Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), as part of the CoP, partnered with REL Midwest to develop a continuous improvement process with its vendors. MPS has shared learnings from the district’s early efforts with this work with the CoP. You can learn more about the project in this month’s newsletter.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the members for their time and attention to the CoP. We know their time is precious, and it has not always been easy to break away from the day-to-day pressing needs of large urban school districts. We look forward to continued engagement with members of this group.—Deb Gurke, Ph.D.

 


Webinar Series Strategic Communications and Early Warning SystemsWebinar Series: Strategic Communications and Early Warning Systems
What’s the best way to communicate with parents about early warning systems and dropout prevention? Find out in a two-part REL Midwest webinar series for states and districts, part of the REL Learning Series on Early Warning Systems.Read more  

 


District Brings Partners Into Evaluation Planning ProcessSchool District Brings Partners Into Evaluation Planning Process
MPS offers hundreds of programs from external partners but lacked a system to evaluate the success of these partnerships—until now.Read more  

 


CoP Member Marc SandersMeet the CoP Member: Marc Sanders
Meet Marc Sanders, member of the REL Midwest Urban District CoP. Sanders is the manager of research and evaluation for MPS. Learn how his team supports schools using research and evaluation results.Read more  

 


Researcher Steve PlankMeet the Researcher: Steve Plank
What has managing researcher Steve Plank learned from his work with REL Midwest? “Listen more than talk.” Read our profile to learn why.Read more  

 


Resources and EventsUrban Education Resources and Events
What’s happening in the world of urban education? Check out our roundup of recent events and resources!Read more  

 

Contact Us
Please contact us for more information
about any of the items in this newsletter
or to speak to a member of our staff.
We look forward to hearing from you.       
AIR, American Institutes for Research, cyber school, education, high school, Learning Point Associates, NCREL, North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, at American Institutes for Research
Urban District Community of Practice
1120 East Diehl Road, Suite 200
Naperville, IL 60563-1486
866-730-6735
www.relmidwest.org

This material was prepared under Contract ED-IES-12-C-0004 by Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, administered by American Institutes for Research. The content of the publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) or the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

 

This e-mail was sent to: mkbarbour@gmail.com

This e-mail was sent by: American Institutes for Research
1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC, 20007-3835 USA

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