LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's reading scores used to be among the nation's highest, but now sit right at the national average.
The leveled scores have led Department of Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen to look for a new approach, and he said it will take an entire community to make a change.
Commissioner Bowen unveiled plans for Literacy For ME, a new initiative to coordinate state agencies and community groups that promote literacy.
"Our schools are maxed out," said Commissioner Bowen. "They're doing the best they can do, but there's only so much they can do when they have those kids for a few hours a day," he said.
"An effort like this is going to require everybody to get involved."
Bowen said there are programs in place all over the state working to improve literacy, but they can work better if they work together.
Plans include forming literacy teams in each community, made up of representatives from various literacy-focused groups.
Literacy teams would be able to access educational tools on the Department of Education website to help them improve, learn best practices from other communities, and adopt programs that are yielding results in other areas.
In short, Bowen explained that he does not want to create something new, but rather coordinate already-existing programs to work together.
To get started, the Department of Education is holding several community meetings across the state.
Meeting location, dates, and times are listed here.