Bridges is an extensive collaboration among high school language and literacy teachers; subject area teachers; school administrators in several high schools in New York State; and CUNY researchers. Bridges serves a population of immigrant students who have recently entered public high schools as “English language learners” or “emergent bilinguals” (our preferred term), but who have low levels of home language literacy upon entry to ninth grade. In Bridges, these students attend a sheltered program at their high school, with dedicated classes that have been specifically designed to meet their language, literacy, academic, socio-cultural and emotional needs.
English language learners (ELLs) who arrive in U.S. 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 professional training for teachers and district leaders that targets a deeper understanding of 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.