Professor Gita Martohardjono Receives $818K From the New York State Education Department for a Project That Serves Immigrant Children

Gita Martohardjono

Professor Gita Martohardjono (Linguistics) was awarded $818,000 by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) for the continuation of a digital tool serving newcomer immigrant children, now in its seventh year.
The tool, known as the Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS), is an online, semi-adaptive placement screener to support school intake for newcomer immigrant students. It is designed to provide educators in New York State with information about the home-language literacy and math skills of students with interrupted or inconsistent formal education, known as SIFE students.
The U.S. has lifted its recent immigration restrictions and is once again welcoming immigrants and refugees at high rates. Among the new immigrants are teenagers who have had little or no access to school. These students are new to English and are sometimes learning how to read and write for the first time. Given the potential gaps in schooling in the home country and the likelihood of low proficiency in English, it is important to gauge newcomer students’ literacy abilities in the language they are most comfortable in. This approach gives teachers and educators a deeper understanding of the students’ academic abilities, while at the same time identifying skills that need additional support.
The MLS is part of New York’s SIFE identification process and is being used successfully in over 500 schools throughout the state. The program provides teachers with an automatically generated summary of students’ home language literacy skills so that teachers can design instruction appropriately. The MLS has four modules: reading comprehension, vocabulary, early literacy, and mathematics. It is available in 16 languages: Arabic, Bangla, Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Fula, Haitian Creole, Maay-Maay, Nepali, Russian, S’gaw Karen, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Urdu.
More information is available as a webinar, and the MLS is featured prominently on the NYSED Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages SIFE Resources website.
Contact for more information.

Submitted on: SEP 2, 2021

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