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  • Students with Interrupted Formal Education: A Challenge for the New York City Public Schools

    There are more than 15,000 students in the New York City public schools who came to this country having missed two years or more of schooling. These students – known as Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) – present particular challenges for educators trying to raise the 40% on-time graduation rate for English Language Learners (ELLs). This report examines the data on the SIFE population, profiles twelve immigrant students who should have been identified as SIFE by their schools, and uses their experiences to show how the New York City Department of Education and individual schools try and often fail to meet their needs.

    May 26, 2010

    A female high school teacher stands at the front of a classroom; two male students raise their hands. (Photo by pop_thailand, Adobe Stock)
    Photo by pop_thailand, Adobe Stock

    The report was issued by Advocates for Children with contributions from Flanbwayan Haitian Literacy Project, the New York Immigration Coalition, Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, and YWCA of Queens Youth Center.

    The experiences of the students we profiled illustrate the challenges many SIFE face in schools in a way that the available data do not capture. These students often enter with low or no literacy in any language, are coping with difficult living conditions or migration experiences, and struggle for months or years to catch up to their peers. For many, the frustration of being so far behind other students in school for so long ultimately leads to them dropping out.”

    Gisela Alvarez, Director of AFC's Immigrant Students’ Rights Project

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