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Current Projects

Bridges to Academic Success

Principal Investigators: Dr. Lisa Auslander, Professor Elaine Klein
Funder: New York State Education Department 
Total: $6,358,000 (2012-20)
Previous Funders: New York City Department of Education; New York Community Trust 
Project Website:

English language learners (ELLs) who arrive in the United States (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 and 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.
Auslander, L. (2019). Creating Responsive Classroom Communities: A Cross-Case Study of Schools Serving Students with Interrupted Schooling. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Auslander, L., & Beiting, M. (2018). Building bridges: Making literacy and democracy accessible in a curriculum for students with interrupted formal education. Education in a Democracy, 10, 69-82.

Auslander, L.“Building Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Classrooms: A Case Study in Teacher and Counselor Collaboration.” Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research (2018, April).

Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS)

Principal Investigator: Professor Gita Martohardjono
Funder: New York State Education Department
Total: $1,889,721 (2013-2020)
Webinar about MLS:

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 curricular standards and didactic principles from students’ home countries for grades 3 through 9. The MLS has four modules: Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, Early Literacy and Mathematics. The MLS is available in Arabic, Bangla, Burmese, Chinese, English, French, Fula, Haitian Creole, Maay Maay, Nepali, Russian, S’gaw Karen, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Urdu. 

Project History
One of the earliest precursors to the MLS was the Academic Language And Literacy Diagnostic (ALLD). The ALLD was commissioned by the New York City Department of Education’s Office of English Language Learners (NYC DOE ELL) in 2008. Phase II of the SIFE Assessment Project pilot-tested the ALLD in Spanish and English. After the project was completed, the NYC DOE was interested in expanding the ALLD into other languages. In addition to Spanish and English, Arabic, Bangla, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin tests were developed and it became the Literacy Evaluation for Newcomer Students (LENS) in 2011-12. The LENS grew to include Urdu, S’gaw-Karen and Maay Maay in 2013-14. It also transitioned from being a paper and pencil test to an online test entirely conducted in the home language. The next iteration, the Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener (MLS), was implemented across the state with support from NYSED in 2016. In 2018, the MLS expanded to Burmese, French, Fula, Nepali, Russian, Somali, and Swahili. RISLUS is currently updating the MLS to improve user experience, as well as offering workshops and school support to assist with administration and interpretation of the results. 

More information available on the New York State Education
Department website:

Participating in Literacies and Computer Science (PiLaCS)

Principal Investigators: Professors Kate Menken, Laura Ascenzi-Moreno
Key Personnel: Sara Vogel, Christopher Hoadley (New York University)
Funder: National Science Foundation in partnership with New York University.
Total: $535,000 (2017-2021)
Project Website:
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 granted an award 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 4-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 in August 2017 and continues today. 
Project History
PiLaCS began in August 2017 with a grant for ‘Leveraging Multilingualism to Support Computer Science Education through Translanguaging Pedagogies.’ 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 explores whether that is the case, and more broadly examines computer science instruction for emergent bilinguals. The second grant awarded by NSF for PiLaCS in 2018 expands the work of the project, by increasing the number of teachers at the schools, developing an approach for professional development, and linking computation literacies to authentic uses of computer science in communities.
Vogel, S., Ascenzi-Moreno, L., & García, O. (2018). An Expanded View of Translanguaging: Leveraging the Dynamic Interactions Between a Young Multilingual Writer and Machine Translation Software. In J. Choi & S. Ollerhead (Eds.), Plurilingualismin Teaching and Learning: Complexities Across Contexts (pp. 89–106). London, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Vogel, S., Ascenzi-Moreno, L., Hoadley, C., & Menken, K. (2018). Leveraging multilingualism to support computer science education through translanguaging pedagogies. In Translanguaging: Opportunities and Challenges in a Globalized World. University of Ottawa. Retrieved from:

Videos Showcasing Immigrant Language Learners

Principal Investigator: Professor Tatyana Kleyn

Supporting Immigrants in Schools Video Series

Funded by New York State Education Department 
Total: $40,600 (2018)
Project Website:
Created to address the current immigration context, this project seeks to provide the most up to date information, show examples of schools doing right by immigrant students and ensure schools are aware of policies and actions they should take. The project includes four, 10-minute videos and a resource guide for educators, targeted for pre-kindergarten-12 educators in NYC. Topics include fostering a welcoming environment, enrolling and preparing for ICE. Launched on Oct. 15, 2019 at Aaron Davis Hall at CUNY, the project has been made available online.

Living Undocumented

Funder: U.S.-Mexico Foundation. 
Total: (2012-13)
Project Website:
The Living Undocumented series consists of two films focused on undocumented youth in New York City. 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 remains 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

Una Vida, Dos Países (One Life, Two Countries): Children and Youth (Back) in Mexico​
Funder: U.S.-Mexico Foundation (2016)
Project Website:

From 2011 to 2016, one million Mexicans residing in the US 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.