2000-2001 ENV200Y ESSAY

 
We do not require you to search out information for the essay. We provide all the resources required. The quid pro quo however for your not having to look for information, is that we expect your essay to demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate that information and muster evidence in support of a position. Please pay close attention to both the topic and the marking criteria.
Quick Access to The Essay Resources
Index

1.0 General Information on the topic

This course is about global environmental change and mostly about what science tells us about that change. But effectively dealing with change is not solely a scientific issue. Scientists can inform policy makers and the public about their research, but more than scientific understanding is required if we are going to develop effective environmental policies: a process that is as much socio-economic and/or political as it is scientific/technical. Climate change policy is a perfect example. We believe the opportunity to work through an issue as interdisciplinary as climate change is a highly transferable skill that will also provide you with information you can use over the next decade as Canada debates its policy options.

The magnitude of the human component in global climate change is still being actively questioned, nevertheless national and international climate change policy actions are under active debate and development. Signatories to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committed themselves to an objective of achieving "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" and to preparing "national action plans" to address emissions of greenhouse gases.

For Canada, the original framework convention means monitoring and reporting national emissions of greenhouse gases,  undertaking actions to reduce these emissions, and developing scientific initiatives to build the global community's knowledge of climate processes, impacts and adaptations. In addition, in December 1997, at the Third Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, attendees negotiated an international climate change agreement, the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol sets out emission reduction targets that will be binding on parties when the agreement is ratified. Canada's Kyoto target is to bring our 2012 greenhouse gas emissions down to a level six per cent below what our levels were in 1990. Our essay is focused on that target and the policy approaches to  achieving it.

The first document we are asking you to read discusses the finer points of the Kyoto protocol: particularly the relationship between rates of carbon emission and resultant carbon dioxide concentration. Then we ask you to turn to a discussion of environmental policy. In this second paper, the authors suggest that there are three reasonably distinct starting points from which a response to the convention might be framed: technical perspectives,  economic perspectives and ecological perspectives . They refer to these starting points as policy "lenses." They argue that the lens you use to examine an issue affects your perception of climate change and yields divergent beliefs regarding uncertainty, cost/benefit accounting, and urgency with respect to climate policy. These differences then shape the recommendations of various advocates as to the appropriate role for national governments in reducing greenhouse gases. 
 

"Because of the enormous uncertainties associated with global climate change -- whether global climate change is occurring or will occur, what the effects might be and their magnitude, the consequences that would follow from actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, the costs of actions or of taking no action, the time frame of impacts, etc. -- each individual's perception of what, if anything, to do is strongly influenced by personal values, experience, education, training, and outlook in how to cope with uncertainty. These personal variations affect one's definition of the issue and the weight one gives possible approaches to it. This is not just stating the obvious that economists, lawyers, biologists, atmospheric scientists, and others bring different expertise to the issue, or that optimists and pessimists can see the same glass as half full and half empty. This is highlighting the fact that the magnitude of uncertainty accentuates those differences that would apply even if the facts concerning global climate change were indisputable."
Parker and Blodgett (1998)

Your essay must do four things. (1) Give sufficient information on Kyoto and the lens approach (the Parker and Blodgett document) in order to adequately frame your later discussion of Canada's approach to curbing emissions. (2) Provide evidence that you can think critically about the salient elements of each of the lenses (technical, economic, ecological). You might do this by addressing the different lenses in some detail, i.e. how does each suggest mitigating the situation, what are the critical elements of each, do they overlap at all, are their inherent contradictions among them, etc. Alternatively, you might focus on one which you think has the most potential and discuss it, followed by a critical analysis of why the other approaches are not adequate. (3) Evaluate your own mix of lenses (e.g.how do you view climate change or how important is climate change personally,). (4) Finally evaluate the lens mix our federal government seems to be using in their Climate Change 2000 document. More information and links to the resource material are available in the Getting Organized section of this document and at  Essay Resources.

Index

NOTE: While we refer to this site at numerous places throughout this document, we urge you to check out UofT's Writing Site. The University of Toronto expects its students to write well and has provided this site to further that objective. You may want to check specifically for information on academic essay writing, reading/writing critically, and common grammatical errors.

2.0 Assignment Particulars

2.1 Due Date:

The assignment is due Thursday, 15 March, 2001 in our offices (2097 Earth Sciences). You may turn in your essay at any time, but the absolute deadline is 5:00 p.m. on the 15th.

2.2 Length:

The paper should be no more than 1500 words or 6, 8-1/2 x 11 TYPEWRITTEN pages, double-spaced, excluding your literature cited section. (For additional details see Section 4.5.3: References/Literature Cited.) Please use a plain, easy-to-read font that is not less than 10 pts in size. (Please note: the length limit will be strictly enforced. We simply will stop reading your essay after 6 pages and assign a mark.)

2.3 Late Submission Penalty: 

Under normal circumstances, no extensions are granted with respect to the essay. Papers received after the due date are penalized by 2.5% per day. Please note that the ESC closes at 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and does not reopen until 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. Hence a paper turned in on Friday would be penalized by 1 day (2.5%), while getting here too late on Friday would automatically garner a 7.5% penalty (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). You have over 6 weeks in which to complete the assignment and it is our belief that extensions are inherently unfair to those students who do get their work in on time. We are also unsympathetic to excuses based on hardware or software malfunctions. Be smart: Start early and back-up your system regularly.

2.4 Marking Criteria:

The allocation of marks for this assignment is: 35% for information content; 35% for showing good judgment in the interpretation of the information around the material and its use in support of your argument; 15% for a clear and logical presentation; 10% for the physical layout and a final 5% for the overall impression created by the essay. (For additional details see Section 4.0: How your essay will be marked)

2.5 Copies: 

We expect to receive the original copy of your work. However, you must keep a copy for yourself. In the unlikely event that something untoward happens to your assignment between the time you hand it in and the time you get it back, you are responsible for having a second copy.

2.6 Plagiarism: 

Plagiarism is an Academic Offense at the University of Toronto, and sanctions can (and have been) severe, including receiving zero in the course with annotation on the transcript for a minimum of a year, suspension for a year, or expulsion. What constitutes plagiarism is sometimes unclear, and students occasionally commit plagiarism without realizing it. However, ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is not an acceptable excuse for committing it. Here's a definition of plagiarism from Webster's Dictionary:
plagiarism: the act of stealing and passing off as one's own the ideas or words of another or the act of presenting as one's own an idea or product derived from an existing source.
It is clear from this definition that presenting ideas from existing sources such textbooks, encyclopedias (or the Internet) as your own is plagiarism. What may be unclear, however, is when co-operation in tackling an assignment crosses the line to become plagiarism. The university has a site dedicated to the issue of plagiarism.

You are expected to submit an assignment for grading that is a result of your own, independent effort. This does not preclude you from discussing how to tackle an assignment with a colleagues in the class, but the final version should be solely your own work. If you remain unsure as to what constitutes plagiarism, please don't hesitate to speak with either Karen or me.

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3.0 Assignment Details, Hopefully Helpful Hints, etc. 

3.1 Getting Started

There are many things you could do first in order to prepare to write an essay, irrespective of format. However I believe the one single thing you could do that will be the greatest help in researching and writing is to define your goal. In a sentence of somewhere around 20 words, what argument are you trying to make and how will you convince your reader, i.e. what do you want the reader to "take-home" from your essay? I think that once you've decided on an objective you will be in a much better position to decide which information and arguments are central to your essay and which are superfluous or worse, actually confuse the issue.

3.2 Start thinking

We strongly encourage you to spend some time browsing http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/advise.html for advise on academic essay writing, preparing outlines, developing thesis statements, Internet based research, punctuation, spelling and grammar, etc., etc. One of the most important first steps outlined there is making sure you understand the essay topic. 

While our general topic is how we "see" climate change and its potential solutions, you have a relatively wide scope for how you might put the material together: What should be emphasized? What should be left out? What is meaningful? What aspects of the topic particularly interest you? What best illustrates your ability to analyze a topic? You certainly can't use all the material we have provided in any meaningful way! If you try that, your essay will end up as a superficial review without any evidence of critical evaluation or judgment.

Keep in mind that we are not interested in a simple compilation and/or distillation of sets of facts. An academic essay is an argument, it is not a summary. You're not writing for the Encyclopedia Britannica. You're writing for people somewhat like you might have been at the beginning of the year: university educated but with little exposure to issues around climate change. Your goal is to think about the lenses through which we might view an issue (and in this case the issue of climate change) and try to evaluate both your position and that of the Canadian government.

An essay is an arguement, so you will be advancing/advocating a particular position, but this position has to be well argued and supported. As you should be coming to recognize, science can never be 100% certain, but there are major elements of uncertainty in the science of climate change that go far beyond the inherent uncertainty of inductive science. Some elements of uncertainly that are part of developing a scientific understanding of climate change are sometimes seized upon as an "excuse" for not making difficult decisions. While we have not provided them, you may come across opinions promulgated by some special interest lobby groups to the effect that the science underpinning climatic warming is simply wrong, hence there is really nothing to discuss. It is true that the major impacts of climate change associated with increasing CO2 are not likely to manifest themselves for 100 - 150 years and there may be some some valid arguments to waiting on certain kinds of decisions. However these arguments have to be critically evaluated. Choosing to see climate change through an unqualified wait-and-see lens would not demonstrate critical  judgment on your part. 

3.3 Start Organizing

Here are some suggestions for a way to think about organizing your essay, but these should not constrain you! Nor should you assume that a similarly organized essay will be judged more favourably than an alternative organizational model. (It's what you say, as well as how you organize it!) Nevertheless, your essay should start with an informative title. It is then likely, though by no means required, that you would move into some kind of introductory paragraph that states explicitly the "goal" of the essay. This paragraph might explain the background of the problem or pose questions. It should be brief. If you are not sure how to start you might consider crafting concise answers to some of the following: What is the Kyoto Protocol? What are policy lenses? Does learning to recognize that we do filter information through lenses make us more critical readers/advocates? Is the lens concept even useful in climate change? Such opening or introductory remarks are often called thesis statements. (Don't get hung up here! It may be easier to come back to this section later in the writing/editing process.) 

The body of the work is where you will set up the four aspects of your essay; perhaps though not necessarily in separate sections. Be judicious! If the reader becomes overwhelmed by the amount of factual information presented, s/he may be unable to remember what point you were originally trying to make. 

  • Think carefully about the background material on Kyoto and policy lenses. You need to synthesize enough of this material to set up the analysis on both your own and Canada's policy perspectives but not use up too much space (This is likely section 1, but in combination with the introductory paragraph, should probably not take up more than a page of your essay.)
  • What are the salient technical, economic and ecological elements of climate change policy? This could be an essay in itself but that is not our purpose. We are simply asking for the key issues in each perspective. There is no reason to treat these three as equivalent in detail and again your purpose is to set up the reader for the coming analyses. (This is likely section 2 and should probably not occupy more than a page.)
  • When we ask about your own lens mix, we are simply asking how you view climate change. How relevant is the issue to you and how do you prioritize competing demands? Hence, through what lenses do you view climate change? How have your lenses shifted (if indeed they have) as a result of either this course or your preparatory reading? Does/did one lens resonate more with you? Were you guilty of thinking carelessly? (This could be section 3 and if you choose this organizational scheme, it should probably be no more than about a page. However, you might consider combining this point with the following point, addressing ways in which the national stance reflects or differs from your own priorities.)
  • We consider this last section of the essay as the most important. We are asking you to critically evaluate the lens mix in Canada's current climate change document (Climate Change 2000). In your preparation, pay particular attention to how Parker and Blodgett used the lens idea in evaluating the Clinton administration's response to climatic change. This is what you will want to do with respect to analyzing the Canadian response.  Which lenses seem to be resonating with the federal government? What kinds of ideas, solutions, etc. seem to come up most frequently and are they more clearly associated with economic, technological or ecological concerns? (This is likely your third/fourth section and will comprise the bulk of your essay.) 

Finally, it is likely that you will have a concluding paragraph. This paragraph should reiterate what you set out to do and wrap things up. You might end with your opinion of whether the feds seemed to have achieved the right balance of lenses or offer suggestions for an alternative mix or offer a more personal assessment. The last page of your essay (a page that doesn't count as one of the 6) will be your References Cited Section (see Section 4.5.3).

The suggestions we have made for the amount of space to dedicate to various sections are only suggestions! We offer them because we know how  easy it is to fall into an  essentially descriptive mode and fill up your essay with material for section 1 and 2. This would leave little room for what we consider to be the essence of the essay. Don't spend time reviewing background material that you will never refer to again. We know you will have to read much more than you can use in your essay. You only have six pages! We don't want you to demonstrate that you read everything at the expense of demonstrating that you can use everything in an effective argument. 

Index

4.0 How your essay will be marked

4.1 Overall impression (5%)

Other sections will cover the more tangible "nuts-and-bolts" of developing your work. A good assignment will be one that contains an optimal amount of information that is well synthesized (thereby showing evidence of a grasp of the subject matter), clearly presented, and demonstrates evidence that critical thinking skills have been employed.

The University of Toronto expects its students to write well. So, an exceptional piece of work will incorporate something extra: a variable, sometimes undefinable spark that will set it apart when viewed against the larger body of essays. Defining what makes a truly outstanding essay is difficult and even the best writers don't "get it" every time. Professor Silber from the Department of English has thoughtfully provided some tips, but it still isn't easy. This section of the marking is designed to reward those few of you who managed to get just the right pieces into place this time and delivered a supra-synergistic whole.

4.2 Information content (35%)

We use the term information content to refer to the facts and data that you use to develop and support your arguments. We don't expect you to search out any additional literature or pursue research beyond what we have provided. You may choose to do so but there is no guarantee that additional research will improve your product. We believe you already know or have access to all the basic information you will require in order to receive full marks for this section, i.e. your lecture notes, your text and tutorial material and the Web-based references provided under Essay Resources. The task at hand is how to get the most out of what you've read. Gathering and compiling the appropriate parts of all the available information is an absolute prerequisite to the next section: thinking critically about your information.

4.3 Judgment and interpretation (35%)

One of the goals of academic writing is development of critical analytical skills. You do need information, but we do not want you to simply repeat the information we have provided. I like Margaret Proctor's definition from her essay on Critical Reading for Critical Writing.  She regards critical analysis as something reflective, requiring that you "stand back" and gain distance from the text. "When you are reading (or writing) critically you are no longer looking for information. You already have that. You're now looking for ways of thinking about and evaluating the subject matter. You should be accounting for how an argument is being made. What constitutes its strengths and weaknesses? If the argument is strong, Why? Could it be better or differently supported? Are there any gaps, leaps or inconsistencies in the argument? What are the unargued assumptions? Are they problematic? What might an opposing argument be?"

4.4 Clarity and logic (15%)

The purpose of an academic essay is to make a point, reach a conclusion and convince someone of something. This means a body of work that is not just a collection of facts and opinions strung together in random sequence. Each fact or piece of evidence should be the basis for a logical conclusion. The logical structure of "evidence-leading-to-conclusion" should be maintained in every paragraph and in the overall structure of the piece. It's worth reviewing Professor Silber's general advice on academic essay writing again.

4.5 Physical structure (10%)

Physical structure is composed of three parts: the actual physical layout of the work (e.g. how you organized the bits and pieces); your spelling, grammar and punctuation, and how you treat your referenced material.

4.5.1 Layout

We have already talked about an informative title. It is likely, though by no means required, that you would then move into some kind of introductory paragraph that states explicitly the "goal" of the essay. The body of the work is where you will set up main aspects of your essay. The last part of your essay should be a brief summary of where you have taken the reader and what you want that reader to remember. The last page of your essay (a page that doesn't count as one of the 6) will be your References Cited Section. Layout is basically operationalizing your  earlier thought processes. The marks allocated for this section are a recognition of the effectiveness of that organization. Has your essay laid-out an effective road map of where you want to take the reader, the sights you want to show the reader along  the way and a reminder of where you've been. (See the section on Getting Organized.)

Remember that effective writing periodically refers back to the goal(s) stated at the beginning of the essay. Such reiterations provide opportunities to remind the reader of the ways in which the current section, paragraph or question is related to the ultimate goal. The use of relatively short sentences and attention to including only one set of logically connected thoughts in each paragraph will vastly improve readability.

4.5.2 Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation

Literacy is mandatory in university. We expect your work to be free of typos or mis-spellings and to be grammatically correct. If English is not your first language, you may find Answers for Writers of English as a Second Language helpful. Most of us occasionally make one or more of the errors in style, grammar, and punctuation that  Dr. Dena Bain Taylor identifies in her hit parade of errors.

We understand that mistakes do creep in. If you find one (or more) in the course of your final proofreading, correct it, even if this means penciling in a dropped word, adding or deleting letters. Don't leave us to assume, you didn't know any better or didn't bother to re-read the essay after you printed it. Get someone else to proof-read your work if you are the sort who just tends to miss their own mistakes. Try to finish your essay at least a day in advance and then come back to re-read it after a bit of a break. (You'll likely be amazed at the errors you missed.) Please use the Web resources provided at the University and in the event that you feel you need additional or personal help with writing, consider visiting your college's Writing Lab. Don't leave this until the last minute! The labs are busy places and can not always accommodate requests for help immediately, but it never hurts to call and ask.

There will also be opportunities to make appointments for one-on-one consultation and help from the TAs.

4.5.3 References and Literature Cited

All evidence and opinion cited in the work that derives from someone other than you must be clearly indicated as such by the use of a parenthetical citation within the work and inclusion of the full bibliographic reference in the Literature Cited section at the end of your work. Information which is not bona fide personal knowledge or opinion without an appropriate reference is plagiarism; a major academic transgression. If someone has said something much better than you feel you could ever say it, by all means USE the material as is, but put it in quotation marks and give proper credit. 

However, take note of Dr. Proctor's admonition: "When you quote directly from a source, use the quotation critically. Don't substitute the quotation for your own articulation of a point. Rather, introduce it by laying out the judgments you are making about it, and the reasons you are using it. You can also follow the quotation with further comments." Don't string a series of block quotes from the various resources together with a few transitional sentences and assume this will fly as an essay! Do not use footnotes for quotations.

Your Literature Cited section should be on an additional page (i.e. it does not count as one of your six pages) and should conform to the parenthetical citation method outlined below. Do not use footnotes or endnotes.

Index

4.5.3.1 Using parenthetical references in the body of the work

The citation style we want used in the body of your work is the so called parenthetical style. In following this style, you embed the URL or the author and the date of the reference in the text. For example: On the basis of Pusztai's evidence
(www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env200y/ESSAY2000/newscientist2.html) or as Smith (1990) points out or ... in a recent study (Smith, 1990) shows... 

You have a choice of parenthetical styles for those urls that have authors, e.g.Edmonds,1999; Parker and Blodgett, 1998:
(1) You may simply use the url as we previously suggested:
i.e. www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env200y/ESSAY2001/beyond.html. 
OR
(2) Assuming a particular url has an author you may use the author and date, reserving the full url citation for your bibliography. So you might say "Direct ice-core measurements put pre-industrial CO2 concentrations at 260 to 280 ppm (www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env200y/ESSAY2001/beyond.html), suggesting that 2X CO2 concentrations will be somewhere between 520 and 560 ppm." Or you could say "Direct ice-core measurements put pre-industrial CO2 concentrations at 260 to 280 ppm (Edmonds, 1999), suggesting that 2X CO2 concentrations will be somewhere between 520 and 560 ppm." any subsequent citation of the same source need only cite the filename

In subsequent citations, you need only cite the file name if you use the url method, but must repeat the author and date if you opt for the alternative approach. In either case, citation of the same source with no intervening citations, gives you the opportunity to further condense your reference with the abbreviation Ibid. (No date is required with Ibid.as we know you are referring to the reference immediately preceding.) 

Direct quotations require special instructions.  If the quotation comes from a print source (journal article, book, etc.) simply follow the parenthetical citation with the page number: Uncertainty exists regarding "the future size and behaviour of the natural sinks that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere" (Draper, 1998, p136).

If the quotation comes from an HTML or HTM file, simply include either the author and date or the URL after the quoted passage.  (Normally you would be expected to include the page number from which the quotation was taken, but this is not possible with HTML material.)  If the material comes from a PDF file, the kind you open with Adobe Acrobat, the page number is available and you should include it (whether you use the author, date or the direct url). 

  • For an HTML example your quote should look like this:
    According to Edmonds (www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env200y/ESSAY2001/beyond.html), a "great deal of work remains to be done to forge a draft agreement into a lasting and effective tool."
    Or
    According to Edmonds (1999), a "great deal of work remains to be done to forge a draft agreement into a lasting and effective tool."
  • For a PDF example your quote should look like this, However,  toxicologists still said "we haven't yet seen the effects of prolonged exposure to such high CO2 levels" (www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env200y/ESSAY2000/nature.pdf, p6).  However, toxicologists still said "we haven't yet seen the effect of prolonged exposure to such high CO2 levels" (Rachlinski, 2000, p6).
If you are in a situation where Ibid can be used, see above, no page number is required if you are referencing a quote from the same page as the preceding quote.) 

4.5.3.2 The Literature Cited Section

This will be a separate page from your essay and does not count in your 6 page limit. List your cited sources alphabetically.  World Wide Web citations: 

Properly citing material taken from the WWW is challenging since as yet no universally accepted referencing protocols exist. Internet addresses are specified using a URL (uniform resource locator) which you need to supply. In addition, the site will usually have what passes for a title. If it is available from the site, you should also provide the web-site author's name, email address and the sponsoring organization.   You also need the last date you accessed the site. The date accessed is extremely important as it protects you if the site content is removed or changed.  In many cases the material you will be citing are local edited copies of original files.

Here is an example of the bibliographic citation for an authored url:

Edmonds, James A. 1999. Beyond Kyoto: Toward A Technology Greenhouse Strategy http://www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env/env200y/ESSAY2001/beyond.html (Last accessed 12 March, 2001)

Here is an example of the bibliographic reference for an anonomous url:

Global Policy Forum (Last accessed: March 12, 2001) Energy Taxes.
http://www.cquest.utoronto.ca/env/env200y/ESSAY2001/eco-intro.html 

We do not feel you need additional resources beyond what we have provided. However if you do use material from lectures (mine or anyone else's), books, journals or newspaper articles, use the following protocols: 

For lecture derived material: 

When you want to use oral material from lecture, from radio, from TV or other auditory media, the material becomes a personal communication and you cite it with the abbreviation pers. comm., along with the name of the individual and the date. For example: Your essay text might read "Thymine and adenine are complementary nucleotides" (Zimmerman, 2000). In your literature cited section, this would appear as: Zimmerman, A.P., January 27, 2000, pers. comm. 

For books: 

Botkin, D. and E. Keller (1998). Environmental Science: Earth as a Living
     Planet (Vol. 19, pp. 3-66) John Wiley & Sons New York. 648pp.
or
Draper, D.  (1998). Our Environment: A Canadian Perspective. ITP NelsonToronto. 499pp.
For a journal article (in this case assume the actual article was provided for you as a PDF file):
Ha-Duong, M., M.J. Grubb and J.-C. Hourcade (1998). Influence of socioeconomic
     inertia and uncertainty on optimal CO2-emission abatement. Nature
     390, 267 1997) (PDF file)
For a journal article that really came from a journal (you would only need to use this if you were pursuing additional research on your own which is not required): 

Mohnen, V.A., W. Goldstein and C.W. Wang. 1991. The Conflict over Global Warming
        Global and Environmental Change 1:109-123.

For a magazine article use:

Gardner, H. (1991, December). Are we worrying too much about global warming?
     Psychology Today, pp. 70-76.
For newspaper articles, use the following. If you know the author use her name, last name first. If the article is from a wire service and hence is anonymous or unknown replace the author's name with a blank:
_____ Global warming linked to mental illness. (1991, July 13). New
     York Times, pp. B13.
or
McAndrew, Brian. Efforts to stop global warming (1997, 13 August)
        Toronto Star.

5.0 A Final Comment on Marks

Some of you may have unrealistic expectations about university marks. Remember, that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences considers a C grade to mean that work is acceptable. It is not a bad grade, it is a normal grade. A's and B's are for above normal performance; D's, E's and F's are for below normal performance.

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