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Literacy for ME: A Report on Maine’s Literacy Plan

Submitted On: Monday, June 16, 2014

Analyst: Pifer, Matthew

I apologize for this delayed response to Barbara's request. 

Note: I have attempted to provide hyperlinks to external sources of information. 

In 2012, Maine’s Department of Education (DOE) published the Literacy for ME: Maine’s Comprehensive State Literacy Plan, which is “comprehensive” in that the plan was developed to address the literacy needs of Maine residents from “birth through adulthood” and in areas from reading and writing to the effective use of digital technologies (“Literacy,” p. 1). To help support literacy development throughout one’s life and in these different areas, the plan encourages the following initiatives: 

·         Children and adults will have access to more of the help they need to meet the literacy demands of post-secondary education, careers, and civic life;

·         Maine communities will have access to a statewide system of support for evidence-based literacy learning practices across the birth to adult span;

·         State-level literacy education efforts will be informed by practices proven effective in local communities;

·         Cross-agency collaborations will strengthen literacy across the birth to adult span. (“Literacy,” p. 1)

Notable in these four initiatives is the Maine DOE’s desire to support literacy in the “post-secondary” context, seeking to help residents refine their literacy skills to meet the evolving demands of the job market and civic life. Central among these efforts is to assist local communities in their development of literacy programs, offering, for example, a “Literacy for ME Toolkit.” One group that illustrates these local efforts is the “Literacy Volunteers of Bangor,” a group that links those interested in helping develop literacy in the Maine mid-coast region with those in need of this assistance. To create these local relationships, the organization collaborates with local universities and community colleges to create an effective learning community, providing instructional training for volunteers and scheduling tutoring sessions. These community efforts, the DOE notes, not only support the development of literacy in terms of job preparation but also in terms of the positive effects higher levels of literacy can have on the region’s “civic and cultural life” (p. 2).  

In addition to encouraging community involvement in the development of literacy, the DOE’s literacy plan also identifies the need to develop digital literacies to meet the current “college, career, and civic” needs of Maine’s residents.  Among these needs are not only “job skills,” per se, but also the liberal arts foundation essential to critical thinking and thoughtful inquiry. The DOE notes that “the health of our democracy is tied to the literacy of its citizens,” and stresses the importance, among other abilities, of reading literature and “writing about it.” Implementing literacy education broadly, integrating it not only in schools but also in the larger community, and defining literacy not only as reading and writing but also as the effective use of digital technologies as well as the thoughtful engagement with the humanities and other liberal arts, helps prepare Maine residence for success in a wide variety of professional and personal pursuits. 

            For more information, researchers can contact Lee Ann Larsen (leeann.larsen@maine.gov)

Academic Level

Higher Education

State

Maine

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