Program Effectiveness

Wilson Reading System® (WRS) is effective in developing the reading skills of individuals with a language-based learning disability or who have otherwise struggled to learn to read. Below is a selection of findings.

Duff, Stebbins, Stormont, Lembke, & Wilson

In an independent study, the effectiveness of the Wilson Reading System was demonstrated to be effective in fostering fluency and comprehension skills among students with disabilities. Key findings demonstrated statistically significant growth in oral reading fluency and reading comprehension among students receiving one year of WRS as measured by AIMSweb curriculum-based measurement (R-CBM and R-MAZE). The study examined 51 students with disabilities in grades 2-7. Approximately 80% of students qualified for free and reduced lunch and 52% were minority students.

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Wilson Reading System is proven to raise the level of literacy achievement for students beyond primary grades as indicated by pre- and posttest results analyzed by Dr. Frank Wood, et al., at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The data was collected by school districts at multiple sites across the United States. It was compiled from two cohorts, one having received intervention during the 1999-2000 school year, the second during the 2000-2001 school year. Only those students for whom the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test® (WRMT) was administered were included in the analyses. Key findings include:

  • Students with decoding deficits showed reading growth after 60 hours of direct, multisensory, structured language teaching with the Wilson Reading System.
  • Word Attack subtests yielded an 11-point average improvement in age-referenced standards scores. Wilson students showed a 5.78 standard score gain in the Total Reading Cluster after only 60 lessons.
  • The program is effective in city schools. A comparison of change scores for the smaller inner-city group and the larger nationwide sample reveals a virtual one-to-one correspondence in age-referenced standard score change for each of the different subtest and cluster measures.
  • The program works beyond Grade 3. Third-grade students did not exhibit more or less gain in scores (than would be expected by chance) than did eighth grade students, for example. An important observation, therefore, is that it appears that older students benefit from WRS intervention just as much as do younger students.

Wilson & O’Connor

A study conducted by Wilson and O’Connor in 1995 aimed to determine whether special education pull-out programs with teachers trained in the multisensory instruction of phonological awareness and English word structure yield significant growth in reading and spelling skills. Data from pre- and posttests of 220 students with language learning disabilities in grades 3-12 were analyzed. The results demonstrate significant student gains in word attack, reading comprehension, total reading, and spelling.

The Florida Center for Reading Research

The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) reviewed WRS and reported the following strengths of the program:

  • The instructional design is explicit and systematic.
  • The scope and sequence is detailed and logical.
  • Each lesson is planned carefully with a timed guideline to follow.
  • The lessons are fast-paced with multisensory instruction.
  • The strong professional development component aims to ensure fidelity of delivery.

In the end, the FCRR’s reported, “Our conclusion from reviewing current research on the WRS is that it is consistent with the idea that the program can be used effectively to help ‘close the gap’ in reading skills for struggling readers.”

To read more about Wilson’s program research please download our document Studies Prove Wilson Effectiveness.