Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education (SIFE)
Who are Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education?
The majority of our SIFE arrive at our schools with low or no literacy skills in any language. Some are behind in content knowledge for their age and pose great challenges for educators. They also may have complex social and psychological needs due to traumatic migration experiences, frustrations with their academic delays in relation to their peers, a lack of familiarity with school culture, and isolation in school. Many of these students, with their complex needs, often do not to get the support they require in school and make little or no progress. Some may eventually drop out of school.
What SIFE Resources are available?
The Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) is pleased to present a set of valuable resources designed to support districts and schools in the education of Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education (SIFE). Among these resources, which are described below, are: a SIFE Oral Interview Questionnaire and guidance, the Multilingual Literacy SIFE Screener and guidance, a Writing Screener, a Frequently Asked Questions document, and a SIFE Identification flow chart. We are also releasing a SIFE ELA Foundational Low Literacy Curriculum to meet the needs of SIFEs who are at the 3rd grade level or below in home language literacy in secondary (middle and high) school where the instructional gap tends to be the greatest. The curriculum offers a rigorous and accelerated framework aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for providing students with the necessary content, language, and literacy necessary for achieving academic progress and success.
The MLS is a state-wide diagnostic tool that was created to determine SIFEs' literacy levels in their home language in order to provide or to design appropriate instruction for these students. New York is one of the first states to propose the use of a diagnostic tool for this population of students. We believe that meeting the needs of SIFE is a considerable challenge, but it is one that must be met in order to provide real opportunities to these students. Note: you must refer to the User Quicksheet and the MLS Checklist before accessing the portal and administering the MLS. For more information see: August 2016 Memo regarding Resources for Students with Inconsistent/Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE)
SIFE Oral Interview Questionnaire and Accompanying Guidance
The SIFE Oral Interview Questionnaire is an instrument designed to help gather more information about potential SIFE and provides the school with an opportunity to learn more about the student's family and home background, educational history, and literacy practices. Guidance to the Oral Interview Questionnaire is also available. The SIFE Oral Interview Questionnaire and Guidance documents are currently available in English and in the following languages that are the top spoken by the state’s SIFE, listed here alphabetically: Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Chinese-Simplified, Haitian Creole, S’gaw Karen, Maay Maay, Spanish, and Urdu.
The purpose of this tool is to quickly identify students’ basic writing skills as another data point to assist with the screening of potential SIFE. This tool can be administered to a group, and students should be given a maximum of 15 minutes to complete their writing. Writing Screeners are available in the following languages: Arabic, Bengali/Bangla, Burmese, Chinese-Simplified, Chinese Traditional, English, French, Fulani, Haitian-Creole, S’gaw Karen, Maay Maay, Nepali, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, and Urdu.
A one page flow chart that outlines the steps involved in identifying Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Formal Education, as outlined in Part 154 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
Questions and Answers related to SIFE identification, placement, assessment, and services.
(note: you must refer to the User Quicksheet and the MLS Checklist before accessing the portal and administering the MLS)
The MLS is a multilingual set of diagnostics designed to inform teachers and administrators of the home-language literacy skills their students bring with them when they begin schooling in New York State. The MLS is also a semi-adaptive online diagnostic that reflects current literature-based curricula and didactic principles from students’ home countries for grades three through nine. The tool is currently available in Arabic, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese (Simplified), English, French, Fula, Haitian Creole, Maay Maay, Nepali, Russian, S’gaw Karen, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Urdu and may be available in more languages in the future as needed. All sections have been produced by literacy experts, writers, and editors who are native speakers of the above languages. In conjunction with the New York State SIFE Oral Interview Questionnaire as well as the Writing Screener, the MLS is an additional tool to be used in determining if a newly arrived English Language Learner is designated as SIFE. For more information about the MLS, read the MLS User Manual.
If you need assistance with your password or with any technical issues related to the MLS, please contact the Helpdesk at firstname.lastname@example.org
SIFE ELA and Foundational Low Literacy Curriculum
This curriculum is intended to meet the needs of SIFE who are at 3rd grade level or below in home language literacy in secondary (middle and high) school where the instructional gap tends to be the greatest. The curriculum offers a rigorous and accelerated framework aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) for providing students with the content, language, and literacy necessary for achieving academic progress and success.
The SIFE Manual was developed by Bridges to Academic Success and funded by the New York State Education Department. The manual was created for educators across New York State who are looking for guidance and best practices around intake, programming, instruction and assessment for SIFE. The guidance provided in this manual can help schools and districts reflect on ways to strengthen the services and instruction they provide these students.
Related Links/Additional Resources
ESOL in Higher Ed SIFE Webinar (five videos)
I Learn America
I Learn America is a documentary by Jean-Michel Dissard that follows the lives of five newcomer students at the International School in Brooklyn.
From the I Learn America website:
The International High School is a New York City public school dedicated to serving newly arrived immigrant teenagers, with more than 300 students speaking two-dozen languages from 50 countries. The students strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, confront the universal trials of adolescence, and search for a future they can claim as their own.
Through these five vibrant young people, their stories and struggles, and their willingness to open their lives and share them with us, we “learn America.”
For more information about how you can view the film and host a screening at your school, visit the I Learn America website