Reading Program Position Statement

March 1, 2020

The reading education program at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development has a long history of educating reading specialists, teachers, literacy leaders and scholars. Since its inception it has had a broad impact on teachers, students, and education policy in Virginia and beyond.

We support the development of reading specialists and teachers that is aligned with the scientific evidence of reading acquisition and adopts a structured and explicit approach. We prepare our students to recognize how access to services and equity issues play a critical role in reading achievement. The program develops reading specialists and teachers to understand the science of reading and how to use this knowledge to implement evidence-based practices in school settings. Specifically, we educate reading specialists and teachers in the implementation of explicit and systematic instruction across all components of reading, those associated with both code-related and meaning-related development. This instructional approach serves all children, but is especially important for children who have difficulty learning to read.

As a research university, we are cognizant that issues of research to practice remain in the translation of the science of reading and its implementation in school settings. We see the training of reading specialists, teachers and researchers as central to the translation of the science of reading. We recognize the way in which the insufficient translation of research findings more significantly impacts subgroups of students who are particularly vulnerable to reading difficulties.

We acknowledge the role institutes of higher education play in the development of reading specialists, teachers, and researchers in the translational science of reading, and we are dedicated to partnering with all educational stakeholders to advance these important and urgent issues. As such, we are committed to:

  • Educating reading specialists and teachers who understand the science of reading from a developmental lens and who also have a practical understanding of how to implement evidence-based practices, in screening, assessment, and instruction
  • Educating reading specialists and teachers who are adequately prepared to meet the needs of students with heterogeneous profiles including those with specific learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia and dysgraphia), children who speak languages other than English at school entry, those with social and demographic risk factors, and those with developmental disabilities
  • Engaging in scholarship that investigates evidence-based practices in reading in authentic classroom settings with diverse subgroups of students
  • Engaging with policy makers and state-level stakeholders to ensure their understanding of the role that training and research play in the supporting all students reading success.
  • Partnering with all educational stakeholders to ensure equitable access to effective, evidence-based diagnostic services and instruction
  • Partnering with community partners to ensure their ongoing awareness of and connection to the resources that can support children and families
  • Partnering with the PALS office to ensure consistency of support to the Commonwealth
  • Continuous program improvement that is responsive to new research findings in the science of reading