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Informational Letter #: 18

Policy Code: IHBI

 

TO:                  Superintendents of Schools, IASA Coordinators, Title 1 Coordinators, Special Education Directors and Elementary Principals

 

FROM:            J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner

 

DATE:             September 14, 2001

 

RE:                   Literacy Strategies For All Students Conference

 

In November of 2000 the Maine Department of Education released a major report on early literacy.  The report titled A Solid Foundation: Supportive Contexts for Early Literacy Programs in Maine Schools, highlighted findings from Maine schools with high literacy achievement as well as a model for constant improvement.  This report did not specify particular instructional practices schools should implement to ensure literacy achievement but described a set of six inter-related characteristics common to successful early literacy programs in Maine schools.  The report did not specifically address how or when critical reading skills are most effectively taught and what instructional methods, materials, and approaches are most beneficial for students of varying abilities.

 

            To extend and build upon this work the Department of Education has scheduled a one-day conference, Literacy Strategies For All Students. The conference will examine the findings of The Report of the National Reading Panel: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction.  This study examined approximately 100,000 research studies on reading published since 1966.  The Panel established subgroups of its members and designated major topic areas central to learning to read to be studied: Alphabetics (phonemic awareness and phonics), Fluency and Comprehension.  The Panel made specific recommendations as to the effectiveness of specific reading instructional methods and approaches.

 

Timothy Shanahan, Professor University of Illinois at Chicago and a Panel member, will keynote the conference.  He will highlight the report’s major finding, discussing when and how specific types of instruction should be provided.

 

Sessions at the conference will demonstrate specific classroom instructional practices for kindergarten through grade six teachers in the areas of: alphabetics, fluency and comprehension.  It is suggested that schools send a team so that team members will be able to attend the various sessions.  Time will be provided at the end of the day for school teams to meet and discuss how this information will be used in their school.

 

We are making strong progress toward helping all children become literate as evidenced by MEA and NAEP data, but still one in four Maine students is not developing the level of literacy skills necessary for today’s work.  The knowledge gained by attending this conference will assist teachers in helping all children become literate.

 

 

The conference with take place at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday, November 9th from 9:00 – 3:00.

 

            Applications for the conference will be mailed to schools before the end of September.  Questions regarding this conference can be directed to Patrick O’Shea at 624-6717 or patrick.o’shea@state.me.us