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Center for Inquiry on Literacy > Center Origin, Activities & Resources

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Center Origin, Activities & Resources




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Impetus for the creation of the Center for Inquiry on Literacy came from a several key developments during the past two years.  First, in preparation for implementing the Learning Results legislation, the Assessment Design Team Report of February 1997 suggested, “the state take a leadership role in developing a statewide inventory and assessment of beginning reading”.  Second, in 1998 the National Research Council commissioned their own inquiry regarding the effectiveness of interventions for children at risk of having problems learning to read.  This inquiry came in response to the recognition that while "most children learn to read, many do not read well enough to ensure understanding and meet the demands of an increasingly competitive economy" (Snow, et al., 1998, pg. 1).  Results of this inquiry, were compiled in a report entitled Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, &  Griffin, Eds., 1998). 

The results of the National Research Council's study came at an opportune time.  School reform efforts, such as the implementation of Learning Results legislation, have raised expectations for what readers should know and be able to do.  Similarly, the public is growing increasingly aware of how critical proficient reading ability is for all.  Research findings related to reading processes, skills, strategies, instruction, assessment, and learning environments, offer a foundation for "dialogue and planning to bring all students to high levels of literacy" (Braunger & Lewis, 1998, pg. 1).  The Center for Inquiry on Literacy seeks to provide a vehicle for this kind of sustained and reflective examination of literacy practices in Maine. 

The Center’s work began in the fall of 1998 when a Literacy Workgroup, coordinated by Connie Goldman, was formed to begin examining effective early literacy practices occurring in Maine schools.  The Workgroup utilized a survey to collect data about early literacy practices and conducted interviews with staff members from eleven elementary schools representative of the variety found in Maine.  The Literacy Workgroup’s findings will be published as a report entitled A Solid Foundation to be shared with the field in the Summer of 2000. 


As the Department of Education has moved the Center for Inquiry on Literacy into its second year, a literacy team has been put in place.  This team is working to coordinate efforts to improve academic achievement and elevate aspirations of all Maine’s elementary students through engagement of schools and the larger community in dialogue around effective literacy practices.  The Center’s literacy team is composed of consultants from the Department of Education and receives input from the Literacy Workgroup.  Future work of the Center for Inquiry on Literacy includes:

  • establishing the Center for Inquiry on Literacy as a collaborative support to public elementary schools;

  • publishing the Literacy Workgroup’s initial report, A Solid Foundation;         

  • completing an inventory of early literacy practices in Maine schools;
  • assisting in the development and provision of professional development activities related to literacy;

  • serving as a resource for current research and innovations in literacy;

  • reviewing legislation pertaining to literacy in the elementary years; and

  • drafting an early literacy curriculum framework consistent with the achievement of the Learning Results.  


The Center for Inquiry on Literacy seeks to provide literacy related resources to Maine schools.  Currently, the Center is in the process of compiling these resources, and encourages suggestions from practitioners.  A listing of the Center’s resources is provided below:

  • Descriptions of literacy initiatives and opportunities across Maine
  • Information about effective, research based literacy instruction and assessment practices
  • On-line literacy information and internet links through Center’s website
  • Consultant support for literacy related professional development opportunities and program development/reviews
  • Specialized training for literacy initiatives such as Project Story Boost and The Early Literacy and    Language Classroom Observation Tool (ELLCO)
  • Summer Teacher Academies focused on Literacy Education
  • Reviews of research based literacy texts
  • Collaborative inquiries through Regional Literacy Meetings

 Readers who have resource needs, resource suggestions, or who are interested in learning more about the Center for Inquiry on Literacy can contact any one of the people listed below. 

Jaci Holmes, Early Childhood Consultant, 287-3272,

Lee Anne Larsen, Distinguished Educator for Early Literacy, 287-7689,

Patrick O’Shea, Distinguished Educator for Title IA, 287-8512, Patrick.O’