CUNY-NYSIEB focuses on improving the education of emergent bilingual students in New York State. These students are often referred to as English Language Learners. In New York State they are designated as such by the Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R) initially, and the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) thereafter.
We refer to these students as emergent bilinguals because, in learning English, they are becoming bilingual and thus joining the growing ranks of American bilinguals in New York State and elsewhere. We consider bilingualism as the desired norm for all American students and not as the exceptional quality of a few. That is, we view bilingualism and biliteracy as an asset that all students in New York State should possess to meet the demands of the 21st century. Furthermore, our use of the term emergent bilinguals conceptualizes these students as much more than learners of English only, since they are developing proficiency and literacy in academic English from the base of home language practices. Furthermore, the term emergent bilinguals acknowledges that the education of these students must go beyond simply English language learning, to include a challenging curriculum in the content areas that also meets their social and emotional needs.