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Reading Specialist (K-12)

(M.A.Ed., Ed.S. in Curriculum and Instruction)

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus (Ed.S.)

Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus or Southwest Virginia (M.A.Ed.)

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

We prepare experienced teachers to earn endorsement in the Commonwealth of Virginia as Reading Specialists.


Years to Complete


Program Strands


Faculty Commitment

Hybrid Course Delivery

Our Reading Specialist Program

The Reading Specialist Program at Virginia Tech is a Master’s Degree Program that prepares experienced teachers to earn endorsement in the Commonwealth of Virginia as Reading Specialists. Currently the program takes a hybrid form with courses offered online in Fall and Spring and face-to-face in a special summer session.

Why Study Reading Specialist Here?

This K-12 endorsement enables successful candidates to take positions in schools across the state. 

What You’ll Study

The program consists of the following 11 courses in four strands.

1. EDCI 5324: Language, Literacy, and Culture
2. EDEP 5154: Psychological Foundations of Education

Literacy Instruction and Assessment
3. EDCI 5304: Assessment for K-12 Literacy Instruction
4. EDCI 5404: Practicum in Clinical Reading
5. EDCI 5784: English Language Learners: Reading and Writing in Content Area

6. EDCI 5344: Review of Literacy Research
7. EDCI 5555: Reading Specialist Practicum I - (Project Planning)
8. EDCI 5556: Reading Specialist Practicum II- (Project)

Adolescent Literacy
9. EDCI 5264: Comprehending Processes and Reading in the Content Area
10. EDCI 5444 - Teaching Adolescent Readers
11. EDCI 5454: Teaching Composition: Methods and Materials

Career and Professional Development

The program at Virginia Tech provides coursework and experiences within public schools in the region through the development of mentoring communities with teachers committed to social justice, cultural diversity, and teacher as agent and reflective inquirer. 

Our Faculty 

Research Interests

  • Text Difficulty and Readability
  • Reader-text Matching
  • Beginning Reading
  • Phonics and Word Study

Heidi Anne Mesmer, Associate Professor, School of Education

Heidi Anne Mesmer, Associate Professor

Research Interests

  • Rural Education
  • Adolescent Literacy
  • Place-based Pedagogy
  • Special Populations in Rural Communities

Amy Price Azano, Assistant Professor

Amy Price Azano, Assistant Professor

Research Interests

  • Literacy studies at the elementary level
  • Literacy teacher education
  • Literacy education in developing countries
  • Literacy studies for minority students

Mary Alice Barksdale, Associate Professor

Mary Alice Barksdale, Associate Professor

Research Interests

  • English Education
  • Dialogic Pedagogy
  • High-stakes Testing
  • Qualitative Methodology
  • Writing Instruction and Creativity 

Trevor T Stewart, Assistant Professor, School of Education, Teaching & Learning.

Trevor T Stewart, Assistant Professor

Research Highlights

  • Azano, A. P. (2017). Book review of Serving gifted students in rural settings. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 32(2), 1-3.

  • Mesmer, H. (2017). Books, read-alouds, and voluntary book interactions: What do we know about centers serving 3-year olds? Literacy Research and Instruction.

  • Stewart, T. T. (2018). Dialogue, inquiry, changing roles, and the dialogical self. In F. Meijers & H. Hermans (Eds.), The Dialogical self in education. Cultural psychology of education, Vol. 5, (pp. 35-47). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Triplett, C., & Barksdale, M. A. (2015). Preservice teachers’ perceptions of struggling readers.  Journal of Reading Education.

Students interested in applying to Reading Specialist (K-12) should contact the program leader, Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer before applying or for more information, by email at

Visit our office at 318 War Memorial Hall (0313), 370 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Domestic Application
Spring: December 1
Summer: June 1
Fall: July 1
International Application
Spring: September 1
Summer: January 5
Fall: April 1


Dr. Heidi Anne Mesmer
Program Leader
318 War Memorial Hall (0313)
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-8343

School of Education (SOE) Programs

School of Education
226 War Memorial Hall (0313)
370 Drillfield Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061