New York City Rolls Out Test for SIFE

By Mary Ann Zehr — February 24, 2009 1 min read
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The New York City school district has commissioned what is believed to be the first standardized test for assessing English-language learners who are “students with interrupted formal education,” or SIFE, and has just distributed it to schools, I report in an article published today at

The test was published by Pearson. Elaine C. Klein and Gita Martohardjono, linguists from the City University of New York Queens College and graduate center who developed the test, told me they are trying to work out an agreement with the publisher for further distribution. So it is not yet available for use outside of the Big Apple.

The diagnostic test grew out of a research study by Klein and Martohardjono that has some interesting findings, including the fact that the 98 SIFE they followed for a year and a half didn’t have a higher-than-average incidence of learning disabilities.

It’s particularly challenging for schools to address the needs of SIFE when they arrive in the United States as adolescents, because those students then have so much catching up to do with their peers and few school years left to do it in.

The National Clearinghouse for English-Language Acquisition is hosting a free Webinar, “Recommendations for Instruction of Adolescent Newcomers,” on March 4, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.* Register here. I’ll wager that how to serve students with interrupted schooling will be one of the topics that comes up during the Webinar.

*The blog entry previously had the wrong date.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.