Celebrate National GEAR UP Week 2016!!!

2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

Join thousands of students, parents, teachers, partners and college access professionals from across the nation to celebrate GEAR UP and the successes of your hard work and dedication!

National_GEAR_UP_Week_logo

National GEAR UP Week is an opportunity for you to raise awareness in your community about the positive impact GEAR UP is having locally.  It’s a time to engage all your stakeholders – local, state and federal elected officials, funders, partners, as well as local, state and regional media – to share your program’s accomplishments and to get them more involved with your services to students and families. Let’s  commemorate your hard work and the progress our students are making towards achieving their life-long dream of going to college!

one in a million

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No narrowing of achievement gaps in California

SmarterBalanced-Berkeley-students0114151

From EdSource

Smarter Balanced test scores for all California student subgroups nudged upward this year, in tandem with average statewide gains in math and English language arts. But parallel progress won’t narrow the wide disparities in achievement between low-income and Hispanic students and their white, Asian and wealthier classmates. And for African-American students and for English learners, the achievement gap slightly widened, according to results that the Department of Education released on Wednesday.

“One year does not make a trend but some student groups with slowest progress are the ones needing to make the most progress,” said Carrie Hahnel, deputy director of Education Trust-West. “English language learners barely moved; African- Americans were the slowest progressing in math.”

The Smarter Balanced tests have revealed wide gaps in subgroup scores that education analysts said reflect the challenges of online tests and the rigors of the Common Core standards that they assess. Those standards require more writing and with math, more verbal skills: students’ ability to explain how they got their answers. Advocates of the Common Core say, and many teachers agree, that they more accurately measure skills that high school students heading to college or the workplace will need.

While 72 percent of Asian students (up 3 percentage points from last year) and 53 percent of white students (up 4 percentage points) met or exceeded standards in math, the definition of proficiency, only 18 percent of African-American students (up 2 percentage points) and 24 percent of Hispanic students (up 3 percentage points) scored proficient.

Proficiency rates were even lower for other groups: 12 percent of English learners (up 1 percentage point); 11 percent of students with disabilities (up 2 percentage points) and 23 percent of low-income students (up 2 percentage points). English learners are a special case, though, since those who pass an assessment showing they have become proficient in English subsequently are no longer classified as English learners. As a result, English learners’ test results, particularly in English language arts, will tend to lag other subgroups, complicating yearly comparisons.

The disparities are wide in English language arts as well. This year the percentage of students who met or exceeded standards by subgroup were:

  • Asian students: 76 percent, up 5 percentage points;
  • White students: 64 percent, up 3 percentage points;
  • Hispanic students: 37 percent, up 5 percentage points;
  • African-American students: 31 percent, up 3 percentage points;
  • Low-income students: 35 percent, up 4 percentage points;
  • Students with disabilities: 14 percent, up 2 percentage points;
  • English learners, a category that does not include former English learners who tested proficient in English: 13 percent, up 2 percentage points.

There also is a gender gap in English language arts: 54 percent of girls scored proficient, up 5 percentage points, compared with 42 percent of boys, up 4 percentage points. Boys and girls had identical scores in math: 37 percent, up 3 percentage points.

“Even as they applaud the gains, our state leaders should formally renew our state’s commitment to focusing on the academic needs of our underserved students and closing these gaps,” said Arun Ramanathan, CEO of Pivot Learning Partners, a nonprofit that works with districts to improve learning. “The data also clearly shows where we haven’t focused enough attention, specifically on the needs of our low- income students, English Learners and students with disabilities. For such a diverse state, these achievement gaps are simply inexcusable.”

The state has taken actions that are intended to narrow disparities. It has adopted English language development standards for English learners that are aligned with the Common Core – an important step to help English learners master academic content while they learn English. And, under the Local Control Funding Formula, districts receive additional dollars for each English learner, low-income, homeless and foster child they enroll: 20 percent per student and more dollars in districts with large concentrations of high-needs students. Districts are required to spend these “supplemental and concentration” dollars increasing and improving programs and services for the students who attract the money.

How long should it take for these resources to translate into higher scores? “I’m not sure,” said Hahnel, “but there should be more urgency to focus on the neediest kids.”

Education Trust-West plans to do an analysis of districts’ and schools’ Smarter Balanced results to identify those that excelled and then speak with principals about what they did to achieve the results.

San Diego Unified, the state’s second-largest district, may be one district on the radar. With English learners and low-income students making up two-thirds of its enrollment, 57 percent of its students scored proficient in English language arts and 45 percent scored proficient in math, 8 percentage points higher than the state average.

While the gaps in scores between low-income and non-low-income students is wide – 30 percentage points difference in English language arts and 22 points in math – San Diego Unified narrowed the difference significantly this year. Gains in proficiency for low-income students were 8 percentage points in English language arts and 5 percentage points in math, twice the statewide rate of improvement for those students. African-American students made a similar gain, 9 percentage points in English language arts, though the gap between them and white students is still 38 percentage points. The gain was 3 percentage points in math, one point less than for white students, leaving a 44 percentage point gap.

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Homeless and Hungry in College

Homeless and hungry in college: Not just a ‘ramen-noodle’ problem

LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2016. Amante experienced homelessness while attending San Jose State and she is again homeless while she waits to attend graduate school at USC in late August. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2016. Amante experienced homelessness while attending San Jose State and she is again homeless while she waits to attend graduate school at USC in late August. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)

From Mercury News

LooLoo Amante had nowhere to live after her freshman year of college, so she bought a Scion with tinted windows and, at just 19 years old, slept in the driver’s seat.

She had little money for food, let alone a costly meal plan, so she sometimes asked friends to grab her a banana or apple from the dining hall.

Even some of her closest friends had no idea that homelessness was part of the college experience for Amante, an advertising major who ran on the cross-country team and served as San Jose State’s student-body president before graduating in May.

“I didn’t want to tell people that I was living out of my car or that I was couch-hopping,” she said.

LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in Los Angeles, Calif. Amante experienced homelessness while

Stories like Amante’s and new research on campus hunger and homelessness have awakened college leaders and policy makers to an uncomfortable reality: Many students are struggling just to survive. The very institutions that study poverty and hunger in urban centers and developing countries are confronting mounting evidence that their own students scrounge for a place to sleep and skip meals to pay their bills.

Researchers can’t easily document whether the problem is growing, because it hasn’t been thoroughly studied. Still, they say, rising tuition and California’s crushing rental prices — nearly $2,300 per month for an average one-bedroom apartment in Oakland and San Jose — have made it harder than ever for students to get by, and colleges are enrolling more students without a financial safety net.

A new UC survey found that 1 in 5 of students had gone hungry in the past year because they didn’t have money for food. CSU this year released the sobering estimate that 8-12 percent of students were homeless or lacked permanent housing. And a survey from San Jose State found that 20 percent of students had gone a whole day without a meal because money was so tight.

Those staggering numbers and others have spurred state legislation and moved campuses across California to set up food pantries, coordinate emergency relief and social services, and set new policies, such as allowing homeless students to stay in campus residence halls during breaks.

Some students sleep in ditches, sheds and highway underpasses, says Cyekeia Lee, an advocate who said she has known college athletes to bed down under bleachers. It’s a situation that many students are ashamed to share, and that colleges have been reluctant to accept, said Lee, of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

“For whatever reason, in our culture it’s hard to conceptualize in America this is where college students have to sleep,” Lee said.

A new UC survey found that 1 in 5 of students had gone hungry in the past year because they didn’t have money for food. CSU this year released the sobering estimate that 8-12 percent of students were homeless or lacked permanent housing. And a survey from San Jose State found that 20 percent of students had gone a whole day without a meal because money was so tight.

Those staggering numbers and others have spurred state legislation and moved campuses across California to set up food pantries, coordinate emergency relief and social services, and set new policies, such as allowing homeless students to stay in campus residence halls during breaks.

Some students sleep in ditches, sheds and highway underpasses, says Cyekeia Lee, an advocate who said she has known college athletes to bed down under bleachers. It’s a situation that many students are ashamed to share, and that colleges have been reluctant to accept, said Lee, of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

“For whatever reason, in our culture it’s hard to conceptualize in America this is where college students have to sleep,” Lee said.

A half-hour south, while working two on-campus jobs, Amante found what she calls a “permanent couch situation” for her last two-plus years at SJSU. Soon after graduation, estranged from her mother, she found herself living back in her car. She is bound for graduate school at the University of Southern California, but still doesn’t know where she will live. She is reluctant to take out student loans and — as she did at San Jose State — is trying to cover her expenses with scholarships, grants and jobs.

“I just graduated,” she said, wiping away tears. “I don’t want to feel like I’m struggling.”

In her car, she keeps a collection of sunglasses, books, blankets, clothing and mail. She receives food assistance, thanks to help from a counselor at San Jose State, but has nowhere to store or prepare meals.

She pulled a pack of chewy, fruit-flavored candy from her glove compartment; her last meal was the night before, she said. It was 2:30 p.m.

A GROWING PROBLEM

Experts are still researching the effects of hunger or homelessness on college students. They suspect the strain causes many, if not most, to drop out.

Those odds make Amante’s accomplishments remarkable. “I expect great things from her,” said her former professor, Dona Nichols.

Most colleges don’t ask students if they have a permanent place to live. The federal government doesn’t ask, either, in its regular surveys of colleges. Sometimes, students without stable housing hide their situations, or don’t consider themselves homeless, even if they are living in a car.

“There is some real and some feared stigma,” said Rashida Crutchfield, a CSU Long Beach professor who is leading the system’s ongoing research of food insecurity and homelessness. “As adults, I think people want to attempt to solve their own problems as best as they can.”

A shared dorm room and meal plan at major Bay Area colleges costs between $14,000 and $18,000 a year, higher than the price of in-state tuition.

Typically when people talk about college affordability, “most of the conversation is around tuition and fees, and hardly ever do we talk about cost of living,” said Ruben Canedo, a UC Berkeley staffer whom UC President Janet Napolitano tapped to lead a systemwide committee on food security.

Demographic shifts on college campuses are also thought to be a factor. “If you go back 30 to 40 years, if you didn’t have money, you didn’t go to college,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education and sociology at Temple University, who co-authored a study last December, “Hungry to Learn.”

Now, Goldrick-Rab said, “even if you grew up solidly middle class, it’s still entirely possible you will fall short.”

Campus hunger has a “ramen-noodle” problem, experts say — a tendency to dismiss students’ struggles as a rite of passage. But as awareness of their hardship grows, California colleges and politicians are responding. Some universities are helping students apply for public food assistance and establishing programs to let students donate meal points to students in need. Many schools, such as CSU East Bay, San Jose State and UC Berkeley, have formed teams to help those in crisis and devise longer-term plans to meet students’ basic needs.

The Legislature is considering three bills to help homeless and food-insecure college students, from emergency grants to access to campus showers.

Humboldt State now accepts food stamps on campus. San Jose State is considering partnerships with local shelters.

Nichols, a journalism and communications lecturer at San Jose State, keeps protein-filled snacks in her office and has lost count of the number of students who have stayed in her home — including Amante — for days, weeks or even months.

“Isn’t there something that we can do to offer them emergency housing?” she asked.

Hearing that Amante was again living in her car, Nichols was saddened. “We’ve got to do something more. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

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Earlier Date for Filing Fafsa Form for College Aid

11ADVISER-master768

From NYTimes.

As college-bound students prepare for a new school year, they should be aware of a new date that’s important for future financial aid: Oct. 1.

That’s the new, earlier date after which students can file the Fafsa, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The infamous form is used to calculate how much students and their families must contribute to the cost of college, and how much help they will get in the form of grants, scholarships and loans. Students seeking financial aid must file the form, used by most states and colleges as the gateway to financial aid, each year.

In the past, students had to wait until Jan. 1 to file the form. But in an effort to align the financial aid process with the typical college admissions cycle, the federal Education Department moved the initial filing date three months earlier.

The department also changed the rules to allow students to complete the form using older financial information. Previously, the form that was available on Jan. 1 used income from the tax year that had just ended. Students filing the form early this year, for instance, had to use 2015 income tax data. Financial advisers often urged students and families to file as soon as possible after Jan. 1, to maximize their chances of getting state grants, because some states have early financial aid deadlines.

That presented a problem, however, because most people do not have the necessary information, like wage statements, to file their tax returns in early January. Instead, they had to file Fafsa forms using estimated income data, and remember to revise the form later, after they filed their tax return. That often meant the form was selected for “verification,” which requires submitting extra documents, said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial-aid expert.

The alternative was simply to file much later, he said, and risk missing out on aid.

The new rules have Fafsa filers use tax information from a year earlier — known, awkwardly, as “prior prior” year returns. (Students filing for the 2017-18 academic year, then, will use 2015 tax data.)

The main benefit of that change is that many more students can use the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool, which automatically fills in the online Fafsa form with the necessary tax information, said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. “This really does simplify the aid process,” she said.

Colleges are taking steps to notify students of the new date. Thomas M. Ratliff, associate vice president at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind., said the university was sending emails to students who had indicated interest in attending, making them aware of the Oct. 1 date. And the state’s association of financial aid professionals will hold a workshop in September for high school counselors, he said, to make them aware of the change.

One question is whether colleges will change their own financial aid application deadlines. Some — particularly institutions with rolling admissions — are reportedly moving up their “priority” financial aid application deadlines to November or December. That could put students in a time crunch in the fall, said Carrie Warick, director of partnerships and policy at the National College Access Network, which promotes college education for low-income students.

“At some institutions, if you miss a the priority deadline, there may be little to no aid after,” Ms. Warick said.

The network, she said, is urging colleges to set their aid application deadlines no earlier than Feb. 1.

Still, the Education Department is advising financial aid counselors to tell families to double-check their state and school financial aid deadlines. Parents, the department notes on its website, should “make sure that your child’s school and state deadlines have not changed, and plan accordingly.”

Here are questions and answers about the new Fafsa date:

Does the change mean I must file the Fafsa form by Oct. 1?

No. The form becomes available on Oct. 1, and you can file when you’re ready — although it’s still wise to file as soon as you can, Mr. Kantrowitz said.

I already filed a Fafsa form this spring. Should I file it again after Oct. 1?

Yes, if you’re seeking aid for the 2017-18 academic year. Because of the filing date change, students may actually file two separate Fafsa forms this calendar year — one that they already completed, for 2016-17, and a second one, which can be filed starting in October, for the following academic year.

How do I use the I.R.S. Data Retrieval Tool?

The online Fafsa form has a link that will allow you to use the tool.

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2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

National_GEAR_UP_Week_logo

Join thousands of students, parents, teachers, partners and college access professionals from across the nation to celebrate GEAR UP and the successes of your hard work and dedication!

National GEAR UP Week is an opportunity for you to raise awareness in your community about the positive impact GEAR UP is having locally.  It’s a time to engage all your stakeholders – local, state and federal elected officials, funders, partners, as well as local, state and regional media – to share your program’s accomplishments and to get them more involved with your services to students and families. Let’s  commemorate your hard work and the progress our students are making towards achieving their life-long dream of going to college!

one in a million

2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

We encourage you to use the resources below to plan and prepare for 2016 National GEAR UP Week.

Inspiration & Planning:

Resources:

  • Download the National GEAR UP Week logo
  • Download the “One in a Million” sign
  • Download the #I<3GEARUP / #IheartGEARUP sign
  • Download the 2014 GEAR UP by the Numbers infographic
  • Proclamation request template – Use this letter template to request a proclamation for National GEAR UP Week from your Senators, Representatives, Governor, Mayor, Councilmembers, etc.
  • Proclamation template – Attach this proclamation template to your proclamation request to save you time!
  • Student letter to Member of Congress – Use this letter template as a guide to encourage your students to share their GEAR UP successes with their Members of Congress!

Press & Media:

  • Media Advisory – This template is to notify media outlets in your area to cover the event you are hosting.  Media advisories are distributed ahead of the event so that outlets can schedule and plan to cover your event.
  • Press Release – This template will help you create some “buzz” about your event.  You can send it out before or after the event takes place, just make sure you edit it accordingly!
  • Op-Ed: Guidelines & Talking Points – Op-eds are a great way to raise awareness about GEAR UP at the local and regional level.  Follow the tips and use the template in this resource to submit your op-ed to your news outlet.

Where California universities fail black male athletes

From the San Francisco Chronicle.

2016_07_06_ETW

There is a losing culture in big-time college sports that has nothing to do with wins and losses in basketball or football, or the millions of dollars being made. Using those standards, many universities are doing fine, with some profiting greatly from the success of their football and men’s basketball teams.

The losses we refer to are the ones that really matter: student-athletes who don’t go pro and never graduate. Too many universities are losing on this measure and failing their student-athletes — particularly black male athletes. California campuses are no exception.

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. While 91 percent of all students and 64 percent of black male students graduate from Cal, just 34 percent of black male athletes graduate.

The fair treatment of college athletes is a national issue in which the focus has been on paying student-athletes and reining in excessive coaching salaries. We even see an emerging discussion on gaps in student-athlete graduation rates. However, we haven’t taken our best shot at fixing these inequities.

Since 2012, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education has used National Collegiate Athletic Association data to expose troubling disparities in representation and graduation rates for black student athletes. This year’s report highlights that despite black male students’ overrepresentation on college sports teams compared with the general student body, less than half of black male student-athletes graduate in six years.

The University of Southern California, for example, graduates 91 percent of all students but only 41 percent of black male athletes. UCLA is making some progress toward closing the graduation gap, with 61 percent of its black male athletes graduating, compared with 91 percent of all students. However, the overall findings rightly create outrage and demand change.

If anyone ever says there’s not enough money to provide student-athletes the support needed to graduate, that’s wrong. The NCAA will make an estimated $1 billion a year from selling the TV rights to the March Madness basketball tournament. Division I football generates more than $3.7 billion annually. UCLA recently announced a record $280 million sponsorship deal with Under Armour sports apparel.

The real losers here are black male student-athletes — we exploit their bodies while neglecting their minds. While some may think scholarships set them up for million-dollar contracts, the vast majority of these student-athletes will never go pro, leaving most of them on the sidelines holding the ball but not a diploma. These students sacrifice countless hours and risk injury to play a sport while pursuing a degree — perhaps it’s us and not them who have lost sight of the goal.

A recent effort by the University of California regents adopts new policies to increase accountability and improve student-athlete success, and should be applauded. The next step is to go further, as the adopted package of policies and guiding principles had one glaring problem — racial inequities were never mentioned.

We should guarantee the support necessary for all student-athletes to finish their degrees. Some campuses are already engaging faculty mentors and providing extra support and instruction while student-athletes are on the road. If the expectation of student-athletes on the field or court is nothing short of excellence, then our colleges should be held to that same excellence standard by achieving parity in graduation rates.

At a recent UC Board of Regents meeting, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, “The most valuable asset we have is not athletic achievement, it is a degree from the University of California, and that should always be the priority.” We agree.

Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, and Ryan Smith is executive director of The Education Trust-West, based in Oakland.

 

 

July 5, 2016 Updated: July 5, 2016 9:40pm

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied.

There is a losing culture in big-time college sports that has nothing to do with wins and losses in basketball or football, or the millions of dollars being made. Using those standards, many universities are doing fine, with some profiting greatly from the success of their football and men’s basketball teams.

The losses we refer to are the ones that really matter: student-athletes who don’t go pro and never graduate. Too many universities are losing on this measure and failing their student-athletes — particularly black male athletes. California campuses are no exception.

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. While 91 percent of all students and 64 percent of black male students graduate from Cal, just 34 percent of black male athletes graduate.

The fair treatment of college athletes is a national issue in which the focus has been on paying student-athletes and reining in excessive coaching salaries. We even see an emerging discussion on gaps in student-athlete graduation rates. However, we haven’t taken our best shot at fixing these inequities.

Since 2012, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education has used National Collegiate Athletic Association data to expose troubling disparities in representation and graduation rates for black student athletes. This year’s report highlights that despite black male students’ overrepresentation on college sports teams compared with the general student body, less than half of black male student-athletes graduate in six years.

The University of Southern California, for example, graduates 91 percent of all students but only 41 percent of black male athletes. UCLA is making some progress toward closing the graduation gap, with 61 percent of its black male athletes graduating, compared with 91 percent of all students. However, the overall findings rightly create outrage and demand change.

If anyone ever says there’s not enough money to provide student-athletes the support needed to graduate, that’s wrong. The NCAA will make an estimated $1 billion a year from selling the TV rights to the March Madness basketball tournament. Division I football generates more than $3.7 billion annually. UCLA recently announced a record $280 million sponsorship deal with Under Armour sports apparel.

The real losers here are black male student-athletes — we exploit their bodies while neglecting their minds. While some may think scholarships set them up for million-dollar contracts, the vast majority of these student-athletes will never go pro, leaving most of them on the sidelines holding the ball but not a diploma. These students sacrifice countless hours and risk injury to play a sport while pursuing a degree — perhaps it’s us and not them who have lost sight of the goal.

A recent effort by the University of California regents adopts new policies to increase accountability and improve student-athlete success, and should be applauded. The next step is to go further, as the adopted package of policies and guiding principles had one glaring problem — racial inequities were never mentioned.

We should guarantee the support necessary for all student-athletes to finish their degrees. Some campuses are already engaging faculty mentors and providing extra support and instruction while student-athletes are on the road. If the expectation of student-athletes on the field or court is nothing short of excellence, then our colleges should be held to that same excellence standard by achieving parity in graduation rates.

At a recent UC Board of Regents meeting, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, “The most valuable asset we have is not athletic achievement, it is a degree from the University of California, and that should always be the priority.” We agree.

Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, and Ryan Smith is executive director of the Education Trust-West, based in Oakland.

ACT Report: The Condition of Future Educators 2015

ACT

The Condition of Future Educators 2015
Interest in education careers continues to decline at an alarming rate among US high school graduates, according to a new report from ACT.
The Condition of Future Educators 2015 reveals that only 4% of the more than 1.9 million 2015 ACT®-tested US high school graduates said they intended to pursue a career in education—as either a teacher, counselor, or administrator. This is down from 5% in 2014 and down from 7% in 2010.
Among the findings: 

  • Lack of Diversity: Findings point to a lack of diversity among students interested in education. Just 23% of aspiring educators are African American or Hispanic, while students in those two groups comprise 31% of all ACT-tested graduates
  • Males Show Less Interest: The report suggests males are much less likely than females to be interested in becoming teachers. Less than one-fourth of graduates who aspire to a career in education are male. In addition, fewer than 10% of male aspiring educators are interested in early childhood and elementary education.
  • STEM Interest: Not only are fewer students interested in becoming educators, but those who are interested have lower-than-average achievement levels, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas. The percentages of aspiring educators who meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are lower than the national average in math, science, and reading.

Read the full report here: The Condition of Future Educators 2015

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