Historical Synopsis of Literacy for ME

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is fully committed to ensuring that Maine’s children, through equitable and inclusive educational experiences, are well-equipped for post-secondary education, careers, and civic life by the time they graduate from high school. More than in any other age, today’s world demands highly developed literacy skills which include speaking, listening, reading, writing, and viewing.  These essential literacy skills must be applied in a variety of contexts including many new and previously unknown manners.  To be successful in these endeavors, Maine’s learners must fluently demonstrate critical literacy abilities to meet the expectations of an information saturated world. Literacy for ME, Maine’s statewide literacy plan, bridges the many different influences that build essential literacy skills and helps to create the conditions for transferring those skills to any situation throughout life.  

Literacy for ME 2.0 continues work begun in September of 2012, when Maine DOE launched the Literacy for ME initiative.  Between 2012 and the present time, the Literacy for ME initiative has provided vision for achieving the goals of improving literacy education efforts and for increasing the literate abilities of Maine’s children and adults through a collaborative approach that combines the expertise and dedicated efforts of Maine educators, state agencies, and community-based organizations. The initiative includes a comprehensive state literacy plan with recommendations for strengthening literacy education efforts across the birth-adult spectrum and which also provides guidance to schools and communities for the development of local level community literacy teams and plans.  Some of the key accomplishments realized through implementation of Literacy for ME include: 

  • Ongoing provision of technical assistance and professional learning to strengthen literacy education across the birth-adult span has been provided by the Maine DOE, in partnership with a wide-range of organizations. 

  • Heightened awareness of the vital importance literacy plays in the lives of Maine’s citizens through annual public awareness campaigns (e.g. Read to ME and Read to Ride).   

  • Formation of over 40 community-based literacy teams composed of membership from school units and community organizations (e.g. libraries, early childhood providers, literacy tutors, businesses, etc.) leading to grassroot efforts to capitalize on the strengths within communities to address identified literacy challenges.    

  • Development of web-based, open-source literacy resources for use by educators, families/caregivers, and community-based literacy teams, including a regularly updated source of Maine literacy data, By the Numbers.  

  • Updated English language arts standards (2020) to provide a more streamlined yet ambitious set of goals for students’ literacy development reflective of the abilities necessary for success in a global economy that relies heavily on digital communication methods.      

  • Advisory service by Maine DOE’s State Literacy Team composed of members with expertise in literacy education across the birth-adult continuum and who represent school systems, community-based literacy organizations, higher-education, and state agencies, to inform implementation efforts.   

Following 9 years of implementation, the Maine DOE, in collaboration with its State Literacy Team, reviewed key literacy-related data to assess Maine’s strengths and challenges.  In response to this review, as well as a recognition that implementation of a strategic plan requires a regular process of revision to meet newly identified demands, the Literacy for ME plan has been updated to reflect current realities and anticipated needs.   

Literacy for ME 2.0:  

  • provides a picture of literacy achievement, literacy education efforts, and identified literacy challenges in Maine at the present time (State of Literacy in Maine); 

  • points to current research regarding key components of literacy education (Key Literacy Components & State Level Strategies); 

  • establishes key state-level recommendations to guide the ongoing efforts of the Maine DOE in supporting literacy education from infancy through adulthood (Key Literacy Components & State Level Strategies); and  

  • offers tools to school and community-based literacy teams for strengthening literacy learning opportunities (Local Level Matrices). 

The updated literacy plan provides Maine DOE, schools, and communities a framework with essential focus areas across age spans to continue to enhance literacy development in the classroom, in homes, and in the community. Well implemented, Literacy for ME 2.0 will help assure that each person educated in Maine is prepared to meet the challenges known and unknown as responsible and engaged adults.