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Current Projects

Bridges to Academic Success

Principal Investigator/Project Director: Dr. Lisa Auslander
Co-PI: Dr. Elaine Klein, Prof Emerita of Linguistics

Funded by the New York State Education Department

English language learners who arrive in US Secondary schools are diverse and heterogeneous. Bridges focuses its work on a subset of the ELLs who struggle most to meaningfully access the work of secondary schools.   Our team works to support  Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Education (SIFE), with a focus on SIFE with Developing Literacy (SDL) or students with home language literacy  levels at 3rd grade or below. These students are at highest risk for dropout.

We offer innovative curriculum andf curricular and instructional practices to ensure access to learning  for SIFE. Our work is grounded in the belief that SIFE bring valuable resources, such as  life experiences, home language, and cultural knowledge that enrich our schools and communities.  We believe that when educators are trained to understand the characteristics of SIFE and implement instructional strategies that accelerate learning, students are able to graduate and experience improved college and career readiness.

Please visit for more information.

New York State Initiative on Emergent Bilinguals (NYSIEB)

Project Director: Professor Ivana Espinet
Principal Investigators: Professors Ricardo Otheguy, Ofelia García, and Kate Menken

Funded by the New York State Education Department
Project website

The goal of the initiative is to build upon the accumulated experience of New York State educators in the instruction of emergent bilingual students in order to launch an innovative effort to improve the school experience and the academic success of these students. The project will: (a) support schools that serve large numbers of emergent bilinguals (b) document and create a portfolio of successful educational policies, programs, and practices associated with emergent bilingual students in the state.

Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS)

Professor Gita Martohardjono
Funded by the New York State Education Department

The Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS) is an online, semi-adaptive suite of assessments designed to provide educators in New York State with information about the home-language literacy and math skills of Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education (SIFE). The assessments can be used to develop instruction that targets the unique educational needs of these students. The MLS reflects the current curricula standards and didactic principles from students’ home countries for grades 3 through 9. The MLS has four modules: Early Literacy, Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary. The languages available are Arabic, Bangla, Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Fula, Haitian Creole, Maay-Maay, Nepali, Russian, S’gaw Karen, Somali, Swahili, and Urdu. The project is commissioned by the New York State Education Department.

Participating in Literacies and Computer Science (PiLaCS)

Professors Kate Menken, Laura Ascenzi-Moreno, and Christopher Hoadley
Funded by National Science Foundation in partnership with New York University

As part of their efforts to support the research and development needed to bring computer science content to all K-12 learners, the National Science Foundation awarded $300,000 to researchers at the CUNY Graduate Center's Research Institute for the Study of Language in Urban Society (RISLUS) and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development to establish a partnership with bilingual teachers at three New York City public middle schools in Washington Heights.

The 2-year project seeks to address a problem of practice facing educators tasked with rolling out New York City's Computer Science for All (CS4All) policy: how to equitably serve emergent bilinguals -- students who speak languages other than English and are learning English. Translanguaging is a pedagogical approach that encourages teachers to leverage children’s diverse language practices in classroom instruction. It is thought that the skills emergent bilingual students use to learn multiple languages may also be useful in helping them learn to program computers. This project will explore whether that is the case, and more broadly examine computer science instruction for emergent bilinguals. Accordingly, PiLaCS will develop and test pedagogies that draw on the strengths of students as they learn computer science and become empowered makers and users of technology.

The grant began August 15, 2017. The Principal Investigators are:

Christopher Hoadley, Associate Professor of Learning Sciences/Educational Technology, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Kate Menken, Professor of Linguistics, at Queens College and RISLUS Research Fellow, CUNY Graduate Center

Laura Ascenzi-Moreno, Assistant Professor of Childhood, Bilingual, & Special Education, Brooklyn College and RISLUS Associate

Sara Vogel is a doctoral student in the PhD Program in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center and will be the lead Research Assistant on the project. 

Living Undocumented

Professors Tatyana Kleyn​
Funded by U.S.-Mexico Foundation

The Living Undocumented series consists of two films. Still Living Undocumented: Five Years Later is the sequel to the 2012 documentary Living Undocumented: High School, College and Beyond. The first film captured the realities of undocumented youth in New York City. At the same time, the DACA program was announced and drastically changed the lives of some of the people in the film. Five years later DACA is in jeopardy. Still Living Undocumented follows three individuals from the first film to see how DACA has impacted some of their lives and left others outside of its reach.

Both documentaries are intended for all audiences, but with the accompanying Teaching and Resource Guide for students and educators, they are especially useful for secondary schools.


Una Vida, Dos Países

Professors Tatyana Kleyn​
Funded by U.S.-Mexico Foundation

Una Vida, Dos Países [One Life, Two Countries]: Children and Youth (Back) in Mexico​

In the last five years one million Mexicans residing in the US have returned to Mexico, including children and youth who were born or raised in the US. Una Vida, Dos Países presents the stories of these transborder youth, highlighting their experiences living between two countries, cultures, languages and education systems, and exploring their parents’ decisions to return to their home country after living undocumented in the US.  

The 30-minute film is multilingual in Spanish, English, and Zapotec with subtitles throughout.  Also available is an accompanying curriculum for secondary schools in the US and Mexico, as well as a guide for teachers of transborder students in Mexico.


Hebrew-English Programs in New York City Public Schools

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kate Menken​
Co-PI: Dr. Sharon Avni​
Funded by The Spencer Foundation

Diversity in the Expansion of Dual Language Bilingual Education: The Case of Hebrew-English Programs in New York City Public Schools

Dual language bilingual education (DLBE) programs, in which students are taught language and academic content in English and a partner language, have dramatically grown in popularity in U.S. public schools. Moving beyond the teaching of Spanish and Chinese, DLBE programs are now being offered in less commonly taught languages and attracting both African Americans and middle-class monolingual English speakers. The remarkable expansion of programs and their outreach to communities that have not traditionally taken part in bilingual education raise compelling questions regarding how they educate diverse populations within the framework of language learning. This study focuses on three Hebrew DLBE programs in New York City, the first of which opened in 2010; two are elementary charter schools and one is a traditional public middle school. Using complementary qualitative methods, this comparative study investigates how Hebrew DLBE programs teach about and negotiate linguistic, ethnic, racial, and religious diversity. Its goal is to provide empirical evidence about the opportunities and challenges of DLBE programs and highlights how these programs inform broader conversations about bilingualism as a goal of and opportunity for public schooling. Dr. Menken and Dr. Avni consider whether new DLBE programs in city schools today can hold true to the original social justice aims of bilingual education.