WILSON Reading System (WRS)

Placement on the Continuum of Evidence Unclear Ø Download icon Download PDF
Target Population: 
Adolescents, Adults, Children
Community-Based, School-based
Academic Performance
Target Audience 

This program is for students who are in 2nd through 12th grade and adult learners who have difficulties with reading.


WILSON Reading System® (WRS) is school- or community-based program that is designed to help participants grasp important reading and spelling skills.


Published evaluations of the WRS program suggest mixed results related to reading outcomes.  While two studies suggest some improvements in reading-related outcomes over time, there are a variety of contradictory results across evaluations.  Furthermore, the studies with the most promising findings had numerous problems, such as lack of adequate comparison groups, problems with the samples studied, and inadequate measures used to assess reading outcomes.


The WRS program is delivered using interactive activities that are designed to teach students the structure of words, which is intended help them master reading and spelling skills.  Lessons are delivered in two formats: one-on-one sessions with a student and teacher or small group sessions that are limited to 6 students.  A 12-step system covers essential components of phonemic awareness, decoding and word study, sight word recognition, fluency, spelling, vocabulary, oral expressive language development, and comprehension.  Instruction includes the following characteristics:

  • Direct and explicit - Teachers use a direct interactive style that is designed to help students understand concepts that govern the English language.
  • Structured and cumulative - Each step of the program builds upon previous lessons with repetition and review built into the curriculum.
  • Multi-sensory - Students learn through activities, such as finger tapping exercises, writing spoken words, reading aloud, and hearing what others read.
  • Practice and feedback - All skills are practiced through activities noted above, and errors are corrected with immediate feedback.
  • Research-based - All lessons are based on research within the field of reading.
Previous Use 

The WRS program has been widely used in the United States in public and private schools, clinics, adult education classes, family literacy programs, and correctional facilities.


To implement the WRS program, teachers are required to complete a certification process that includes an introductory workshop and certification training.  The introductory workshop costs $589 per person.  Level I certification costs $1,950.  Level II certification consists of four courses and costs $2,739.  Please visit www.wilsonlanguage.com/programs/wilson-reading-system/implementation/ for more information.  


Considerations for implementing this program include acquiring buy-in from school administrators and parents, understanding training and program materials will need to be funded, and finding space and time for teacher-student sessions.

The Clearinghouse can help address these considerations. Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email Clearinghouse@psu.edu


If you are interested in implementing the WRS program, the Clearinghouse is interested in helping you!
Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email Clearinghouse@psu.edu


The program is typically implemented in 60- to 90-minute sessions two to five times per week in a one-on-one format or in 45 to 60 minutes every day in a small group setting.  The entire curriculum often takes 2 to 3 years to complete.


A deluxe set of full program materials can be purchased for $459.  Smaller sets of teacher or student materials can be purchased separately.  Please visit https://store.wilsonlanguage.com/wilson-reading-system for more information.  

Evaluation Plan 

To move the WRS program to the Promising category on the Clearinghouse Continuum of Evidence, at least one evaluation should be performed demonstrating positive effects lasting at least one year from the beginning of the program or at least six months from program completion.

The Clearinghouse can help you develop an evaluation plan to ensure the program components are meeting your goals. Please call 1-877-382-9185 or email Clearinghouse@psu.edu


Contact the Clearinghouse with any questions regarding this program.
Phone: 1-877-382-9185 Email: Clearinghouse@psu.edu

You may also contact Wilson Language Training by mail 47 Old Webster Road, Oxford, MA 01540, phone 1-800-899-8454, fax 1-508-368-2300, or visit www.wilsonlanguage.com/contact-us/


www.wilsonlanguage.com/programs/wilson-reading-system/ and Duff, Stebbins, Stormont, Lembke, and Wison (2016).

References - Used For Placement 

Duff, D., Stebbins, M. S., Stormont, M., Lembke, E. S., & Wilson, D. J. (2016). Using curriculum-based measurement data to monitor the effectiveness of the Wilson Reading System for students with disabilities: An exploratory study. International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 15, 93-100.

Guyer, B. P., Banks, S. R., & Guyer, K. E. (1993). Spelling improvement for college students who are dyslexic. Annals of Dyslexia, 43, 186-193.

Stebbins, M. S., Stormont, M., Lembke, E. S., Wilson, D. J., & Clippard, D. (2012). Monitoring the effectiveness of the Wilson Reading System for students with disabilities: One district's example. Exceptionality, 20, 58-70.

Wanzek, J., & Roberts, G. (2012). Reading interventions with varying instructional emphases for fourth graders with reading difficulties. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35, 90-101.

*Resources and associated costs reflect those identified at the time of fact sheet publication.