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Book Review - Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need
01/17/2019

Vian Tormis


Educators across California, and the United States (U.S.), often serve students that are recent arrivals as well immigrant students that have been long term residents in the U.S. and therefore, see the impact of these students’ immigration experiences and personal jour...
Educators across California, and the United States (U.S.), often serve students that are recent arrivals as well immigrant students that have been long term residents in the U.S. and therefore, see the impact of these students’ immigration experiences and personal journeys on their educational experience and achievement. In some cases, many of these students have had a disruption in their access to formal education, impacting how they perform in traditional classrooms in the U.S. Many educators may not be familiar with how to best serve such a student population (DeCapua & Marshall, 2010). In Students With Interrupted Formal Education: Bridging Where They Are and What They Need, Custodio and O′Loughlin offer background on the issue and a form of a practical ‘how-to guide’ on serving these students. The Forward is provided by Deborah Short, a renowned scholar and expert on helping new comers succeed in U.S. schools. Then, Custodio and O’Loughlin describe their own professional experiences in the Preface, building a foundation for what they offer in the book’s chapters, which is a background on immigration to the U.S., children’s refugee experiences and how to assist them as well as program design guidelines.

In Chapter One, they define Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) and describe recent immigration trends to the U.S., as well as how newcomers differ from other populations with interrupted formal education and provide recommendations. The chapter is ideal not only to the whole book’s discussion, but also offers an accessible orientation to an educator new to the topic or such issues in their classroom.

Chapter Two addresses Latinos with interrupted formal education as a large number of SIFE students in the U.S., and most specifically in California, come from North America (i.e. Mexico), Central America and South America. The chapter provides information on the origins of SIFEs coming to the U.S., as the issue goes far beyond Latino students of Spanish- and Indigenous language-speaking students. This chapter provides a description of Latino students´ origin countries and the issues that lead them to leave their home countries. Its also present an analysis of the potential challenges these students face once they are in the U.S., which serves as a rich source of reliable data not only for researchers but also for teachers who seek to understand these students´ needs. The discussion is supported by research, official U.S. government documents and offers recommendations for teachers.

Chapter Three gets to the nitty gritty and describes the experiences of refugee children as SIFEs and how to best assist them. It covers a broad range of aspects related to refugee children as the second largest group of SIFEs in U.S. Its addresses resettlement policy, options and available support for refugees, a categorization of refugee children´s need along with some resources for teachers in order to know what to do and where to go for help. The authors emphasize the trauma thees children experience as a direct consequence of all dangers and violence they faced in their home countries,. Additionally, content-based questions and practical case studies are provided, which serve as practical tools for applying the acquired knowledge to the classroom.

Chapter Four goes beyond educational and classroom logistics and objectives and provides recommendations on how to provide social and emotional support not only to students, but also to their families. A child’s education is significantly impacted by the home environment, the demands on and experiences of the parents and the parents’ integration into the local community and the child’s school/educational experience. This chapter addresses the affective factors and needs of the student and their family as a vital part of serving SIFEs.

Guidelines for program design are offered in Chapter Five. This chapter highlights the importance of teacher and school considerations of every SIFE as individuals with different backgrounds and specific needs. Additionally, authors stress the importance of literacy as a crucial part of SIFEs´ basic education to comprehend and learn content to be able to succeed in their educational future. Accordingly, this chapter features the implementation of certain strategies and resources such as the use of picture books and read-alouds and readers´ theater to promote comprehension and language fluency, and provides information related to expanded learning opportunities, nonacademic support and others services for SIFEs and their families.       
The final section of the book offers a list of resources in the appendices, which is a great asset. They provide, on the one hand, a list of book picture resources for science lessons on water conservation.On the other hand, a list of recommended picture books grouped by topics such as adjustment to school, learning English, value of education, basic vocabulary, the alphabet, counting, mathematics, colors and shapes, fairy tales, science and other topics that are essential for any newcomer to adapt to the new educational context.

This book is a valuable resource for anyone working with SIFEs in K-12 public schools, refugee education programs and/or child protection centers. The appendices and reference list can also be highly informative for those working with adults immigrants and refugees, depending on the contexts of the individuals.