WRS Level I Certification

The Wilson Reading System® (WRS) Level I Certification program is designed to prepare teachers to effectively implement WRS Steps 1-6 with students who are reading and spelling below grade level as well as those diagnosed with a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia. It consists of two components: the WRS Intensive Instruction: Online Course (Steps 1-6) and the WRS Level I Steps 1-6 Practicum.

A critical factor for student success is teacher knowledge and skills, and the ability to apply those in the classroom with students. The WRS Level I Certification Program provides a course that deepens teachers’ content knowledge while providing a supervised practicum that allows teachers to apply and practice skillful use of research-based strategies. Considerable time, effort, and study are required for the WRS Certification program. Each trainee is expected to acquire a very sophisticated working knowledge of the sound-symbol system of English (phonology) and its structure (morphology), as well as the use of specific diagnostic techniques in teaching decoding and encoding, and strategies for vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

WRS Level 1 flow chart

Learn more about:


WRS Introductory Workshop (completed within the last five years).

Back to Top


Individuals have 12 months from the date of enrollment to complete the online course and practicum. If site-based, participants are encouraged to complete certification within the school year.

Back to Top

Delivery Options

For individuals

  • Certification Communities are offered at various locations across the country dependent on trainer availability.
  • Web-Based Practicum is appropriate for tech-savvy participants who may not have a Certification Community in their area.

For schools or districts

  • Schools and districts considering or currently implementing the Wilson Reading System may be interested in certifying a group of their educators.  Contact us to explore development of a comprehensive plan to achieve success and sustainability.

Back to Top


  • Complete a comprehensive online course: WRS Intensive Instruction: Online Course (Steps 1-6).
  • Conduct 1:1 WRS instruction with a practicum student for a minimum of 60 lessons with a lesson plan written for each lesson. Student must meet selection criteria and be approved by the Wilson Trainer.
  • Be observed five times teaching the practicum student. Each observation is scheduled with the Wilson Trainer and lasts approximately one hour.
  • Submit a pretesting report on the practicum student, including educational history and current test results.
  • Develop a teacher and student notebook and compile students’ written work in accordance with WLT program standards.
  • Demonstrate mastery of the WRS Lesson Plan procedures (documented and approved by Wilson Trainer).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of language concepts through accurate teaching with multisensory procedures (Steps 1-6).
  • Demonstrate student success and mastery of decoding/encoding skills.
  • Conduct pre- and post-testing with two norm-referenced tests, one being the Word Identification and Spelling Test (WIST), and submit post-test data with required Practicum Student Report.

Back to Top

Practicum Student Selection Criteria

The practicum student must meet the following criteria and be approved by Wilson Language Training before instruction begins.

  • In or entering grades 4-12 (grade 3 approved if student has been retained).
  • Overall cognitive ability in average range (minimum IQ = 80).
  • Overall reading scores in the 30th percentile or below.
  • Student’s listening comprehension ability is higher than independent reading comprehension.
  • Student has poor decoding and spelling.
  • Student must be available for instruction at least three to four 45-minute sessions, two to three 60-minute sessions, or two to three 90-minute sessions (1:1) per week.
  • The practicum student must not have any previous Wilson instruction.

Whether the criteria is met should be determined from school records and current testing. Testing results used to select practicum student must be no more than six months old.

For practicum student approval, the WIST (Word Identification and Spelling Test) plus another formal reading test must be administered and results submitted to your supervising Wilson trainer. Any of the following is suggested:

  • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – R
  • Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests – III
  • Woodcock-Johnson® III or IV Tests of Achievement
  • Woodcock-Johnson® III Diagnostic Reading Battery
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test® II or III

A similar individualized reading assessment may be substituted if it provides information regarding decoding, comprehension and total reading. Prior approval from Wilson Language Training is required.

The practicum situation works best when the selected student has a consistent attendance record and does not have overriding emotional or behavioral issues.

Back to Top

Materials Required

  • WRS Starter Kit that contains instructor and student materials.
  • WIST (Word Identification and Spelling Test) for student testing. 

For individuals registering for WRS Level I Certification (through a Certification Community or Web-Based Practicum), materials may be ordered at the time of registration.

For school and district implementation, materials information will be provided as part of the COMPASS Plan.

Back to Top

Upon Completion

Individuals who successfully meet all the requirements receive WRS Level I Certification and are able to:

  • Identify the characteristics of dyslexia and related language-based learning disabilities.
  • Use assessments to identify students with word-level deficits who are appropriate for an intensive intervention.
  • Effectively utilize multisensory structured language (MSL) instructional techniques, and demonstrate explicit teaching, modeling, guided practice, and consistent review in lessons.
  • Understand language processes and how they impact the development of proficient readers and writers: phonological, orthographic, semantic, syntactic, and discourse.
  • Successfully incorporate the following areas of reading instruction during WRS Lessons: phonemic awareness, phonics, word structure, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • Accurately teach the structure of the English language (presented in WRS Steps 1-6): consonant and vowel phonemes, syllable structure, common orthographic rules and spelling patterns, common Latin and Greek-based prefixes and suffixes, etc.
  • Identify printed words that do not follow the rules of English, and incorporate multisensory structured language techniques to help students learn how to correctly read and spell these words. These words include high-frequency sight words.
  • Diagnostically plan and deliver lessons, addressing and understanding specific student weaknesses that impact the ability to learn to read and write.
  • Appropriately pace students through the curriculum, developing mastery of material taught, designing lessons that focus on accuracy, automaticity, and fluency of word and text reading.
  • Develop students’ comprehension and fluency skills through the use of the 3-step visualization process, selection and instruction of appropriate vocabulary, and modeling and practice of penciling technique for phrasing.
  • Administer pre- and post-testing assessments to document student growth in word attack, spelling comprehension, reading fluency, and broad reading skills.

Participants completing this program may represent themselves as WRS Level I Certified Teachers and are included in our tutor referral service, but are not qualified as Wilson Trainers. Our policy to recommend only WRS Level I or Level II Certified Teachers is our way of assuring the integrity of the program.

Back to Top

Graduate Credit

Up to nine graduate credits (optional) are available through Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA, upon completion of course requirements. Please see Process for Graduate Credit for details.

Back to Top