What is the Maine Partnership in Comprehensive Literacy?

Students are seated on the floor using word cubesMaine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy is a model developed to support integrated literacy instruction provided within a context of effective school practices. Research has helped us understand that in order for any one model of instruction to support improved student achievement, a multi-faceted cadre of elements at the school level must be present. The integrated literacy instruction of Maine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy is a combination of strategic teaching and learning actions proposed in many well-researched classroom-based models. This instructional framework is coupled with intensive assessment of the school organization so that the school culture itself supports ongoing change for improved school performance.

There are nine specific areas on which a Maine Partnership school focuses its work to support long-term improvement.

1. Common Beliefs and Understandings: School faculty participate in a year-long course that supports consolidating teaching beliefs and understandings so that all students receive the same fundamental teaching across and through grade levels. Continued open conversation among faculty facilitates a common understanding about how children learn to read and write and how they use their literacy skills to be successful in other content areas and outside of school.

2. Integrated Classroom Instruction: Classroom teachers use an integrated literacy framework that supports developmentally appropriate learning within a standards-based environment. Students have an extended daily period of time to learn using authentic reading and writing materials so that their work is meaningful. Learning occurs in groups that are appropriate to the specific task, such as whole group, small-group, and individual work. To support continued student acceleration, teachers carefully identify what a student can successfully do within any given activity and what they need to know next. They use appropriate strategic teaching actions to successfully scaffold student learning.

3. Ongoing Professional Development: Professional development is provided at the school site through a combination of an initial graduate level course, ongoing professional development classes across the academic year, and individual coaching. Teachers, supported by the literacy coach, engage in reading, talking, analyzing teaching, and trying out new teaching methods. Professional development is provided by a literacy coach who has participated in an intensive one-year internship model to ensure expertise in literacy learning and coaching.

4. Shared Leadership: A school leadership team, guided by the school literacy coach and building principal, is established to oversee implementation. The team provides leadership to the faculty as they implement the model in the school.

5. Coordinated Supplemental Instruction: Maine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy works closely with the school’s existing safety nets such as Reading Recovery, Title 1, and special education to ensure that those students needing extra support receive it in a coordinated way. All supplemental service providers participate in the professional development so that they can understand the kind of instruction that takes place in the regular classroom. In addition, they learn to better coordinate instruction with the classroom teacher to best facilitate learning for students who need extra support.

6. Strong Home/School Partnership: Schools are supported to develop a home-school partnership that continues through all grade levels. The activities include family literacy nights, conferences engaging teachers, parents, and students, opportunities for parents to volunteer in the school, and book-lending programs.

7. Systematic Assessment: With assistance from the Maine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy faculty at the University of Maine, schools establish an evaluation system that measures the effects of the model on student growth over time. School personnel learn to select appropriate assessment measures to support ongoing direction for teaching and evaluation of the model over time. They also learn to analyze their student and school data to make sound decisions for learning and program implementation.

8. Established Standards: Maine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy’s integrated literacy framework is aligned with the Maine Learning Results. In implementing the framework, teachers can be assured that they will meet the required standards established by the Maine Department of Education.

9. Multilevel Organizational Support: Communication about Maine Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy is conveyed to all levels of the organization so everyone understands implementation. People at all levels of the organization are invited to participate in the leadership team retreat, the initial courses, or in guided school observations.