About the Research

Okhee Lee is a leading scholar recognized for her work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education with diverse K-12 student groups.

Thirty years of research has culminated in her mission to develop English language proficiency standards that will end disparities in STEM subjects for students who are learning English as an additional language in public schools.

Okhee’s regular publications in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), have put her on the national stage for boldly taking on controversial topics that affect diverse student groups across the nation.

Okhee discusses the significance of her 2019 study, “Aligning English Language Proficiency Standards with Content Standards: Shared Opportunity and Responsibility Across English Learner Education and Content Areas,” in an AERA video.

Garbage Unit

Okhee is principal investigator of the NYU SAIL Research Lab at New York University, where she is a professor of childhood education. Under her leadership and with funding from the National Science Foundation, the Science And Integrated Language (SAIL) team developed a year-long fifth-grade science curriculum that makes use of garbage in the first of the four units.

The instructional materials for The Garbage Unit promote both science learning and language learning for all students, including English learners. The project built on the SAIL conceptual framework for language use in the science classroom that highlights key features of talk and text as students engage in science and engineering practices (Lee, Quinn, & Valdés, 2013).

The unit received the prestigious NGSS Design Badge, awarded only to top-rated science units designed to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The curriculum underwent rigorous peer review by Achieve, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization. The Garbage Unit was beta tested by fifth-graders in an urban school district in New Jersey.