McGuffey Reading Services

McGuffey Reading Clinical Services at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and Human Development is the oldest, continuously running university-based reading service in the country. McGuffey serves the local community and beyond to improve the lives of school-age children (pre-kindergarten through high school) who have experienced difficulty learning to read, write, and spell. As part of this mission, McGuffey offers the following services:  

  • Diagnostic assessments for school-age children (elementary through high school) 
  • After school interventions for children across the elementary grades and through middle school
  • Intensive summer interventions for children across the elementary grades and through middle school
  • Summer camps for pre-kindergartners, rising kindergartners, and rising first and second graders looking for an enriching literacy experience in July

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About Our Services

  • Diagnostic Testing

    McGuffey Reading Services provides pre-kindergarten children, school-age children, and adults with comprehensive diagnostic literacy assessments. Assessments focus on all areas of literacy development: reading, spelling, and writing. We specialize in a variety of educational diagnostic assessments and complete informal assessments to establish functional levels of reading, writing, and spelling. We also conduct exploratory assessments for a more in-depth evaluation of specific areas of concern, such as reading readiness, reading fluency, reading comprehension, or continued spelling or word recognition issues. Additionally, extensive evaluations of writing are completed looking at writing from a variety of lenses (e.g., mechanics, composition, organization). We also investigate questions about potential reading disabilities and dyslexia. Our main goal is to meet the needs of families/clients through both informal and formal assessments as we provide an extensive literacy client profile. Following evaluations, we meet with families/clients to explain our findings and map out recommendations. This evaluation process is concluded with a detailed report provided to families/clients that can be shared as per client request.

    Many parents ask for tutoring options following the diagnostic testing. We offer tutoring in the fall and spring each year, as well as an intensive summer literacy program. If you are interested in enrolling your child in one of our programs, please call 434-924-9349.

  • School Year Literacy Programs

    When school begins each year, many parents want to have reading tutoring assistance for their children. We are pleased to offer this service. If you’re interested in enrolling your child in our after school reading tutoring program please call 434-924-7034.

    What parents say about our tutoring services:

    “We chose McGuffey Reading Services after school program for our son. He was starting to frustrate in school, and the extra help he was getting there just wasn't enough. At McGuffey, he loves the individualized attention, and after just a month or so he's already made huge gains in his reading and his self-confidence. Now he looks forward to reading with us every night!”


  • Summer Literacy Programs and Camps
    Summer Reading Program

    McGuffey's Summer Reading Program is designed for school-age children in need of intervention during the summer break to either maintain their literacy skills or work to build their literacy skills. The Program is an intensive 3-week intervention from July 6-24. The students attending the 3-week Summer Reading Program are in grades Kindergarten through Middle School. The Program is designed to meet the needs, and build on the strengths, of students who may have struggled along their literacy path.

    Program features:

    • Students work closely with McGuffey clinicians to develop an intensive instructional program to best meets the needs of their students.
    • Our lessons typically include: 1) systematic teaching of phonemic awareness, phonics/decoding, and spelling to build word recognition; 2) targeted fluency instruction to build reading rate and prosody; 3) comprehension instruction to include both background knowledge/vocabulary and strategy use; and 4) writing instruction, which is woven throughout the lesson.
    • All instructional activities are based on student assessed needs and strengths.
    Summer Reading Camp

    We also offer three Summer Reading Camps designed to provide a literacy enrichment experience for pre-kindergarten and primary grade children. These camps have been created to offer families a fun summer camp experience that has an academic/literacy slant. All camps run for two full weeks. Please note: Families seeking a more intensive and individualized experience should inquire about the 3-week Summer Reading Program.

    Program features:

    • The 4-Year Old Camp is designed for 4-year olds from families seeking a camp designed to boost foundational literacy skills in a fun environment.
    • The Rising Kindergarten Camp is designed for 5-year olds getting ready to enter Kindergarten in the fall to address beginning reading/writing skills. The session will also provide children with a 'first glimpse' into the format of the language arts block of the elementary classroom.
    • The Primary Camp is designed for students who finished Kindergarten (aka rising First Grade) and First Grade (aka rising Second Grade) to further boost their literacy skills. This camp provides students with ample opportunities for fun enrichment activities geared towards building reading fluency, reading comprehension, and creative writing.
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  • McGuffey Reading Services History

    1937-1969  According to Wilson’s (2006) history of the Curry School of Education and Human Development, the current reading program at the University of Virginia began with the establishment of a reading clinic in 1937. In 1946, Professor Ullin Leavell reconfigured the clinic and named it after William Holmes McGuffey who had come to the University of Virginia in the 1800s as a professor of moral philosophy. Professor McGuffey is most well-known as the author of the famous McGuffey Eclectic Readers from which almost all children in this country learned to read. There were six readers in all—every child began with “Mary had a little lamb…” and proceeded through the six books, which contained lessons about being a good child and good behavior in general. The McGuffey Reading Clinic established by Leavell offered diagnosis and remediation of reading problems for children in the surrounding school divisions. 

    1969-1989  Leavell’s tenure was followed by that of Professor Edmund H. Henderson who took over the leadership of McGuffey in 1969.When the Graduate School of Education move to Ruffner Hall in 1973, the McGuffey Reading Clinic was renamed the McGuffey Reading Center to reflect the expanding activities in which faculty engaged. Henderson’s seminal work in developmental word knowledge has led the field for fifty years in our understanding of how children learn to read and spell. The reading clinic still served the surrounding school districts but often parents brought children from other states and even countries for accurate and helpful diagnosis of and teaching for reading problems.

    1989-Today  We serve hundreds of students annually and have established McGuffey Reading Services as an important agency for the improvement of reading and spelling skills for people of all ages. McGuffey Reading Services is now housed on the ground floor of Bavaro Hall within the Sheila C. Johnson Center. We offer diagnostic and remedial services and are staffed by faculty and graduate students of the Curry School of Education and Human Development.