Program Effectiveness

Since the publication of Fundations®, several impact and efficacy studies of thousands of kindergarten and first-grade students have been performed in schools across the United States.

The consensus across these studies is that, when implemented properly, students using Fundations in Tiers 1 and 2 achieve greater gains in foundational literacy skills compared to students using programs previously implemented by the schools. These results held with English language learners (ELL) as well.

Studies of kindergarten students who received Fundations instruction in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts demonstrated:

  • Better learning of letter knowledge.
  • Larger gains in phonological and phonemic awareness.
  • Greater gains in phonological decoding.
  • Reduction in risk of later reading difficulties.

First-grade students who received Fundations instruction demonstrated:

  • Larger gains in oral reading fluency.
  • Improvement in phonemic awareness (phoneme segmentation).
  • Improvement in phonological decoding (reading nonsense words).
  • Significant gains in basic reading skills.
  • Reduction in risk of later reading difficulties.

English language learners (Grade 1) who received Fundations instruction demonstrated:

  • Greater gains in phonemic awareness.
  • Greater gains in oral reading fluency.

An independent analysis of data from a Florida district determined that Fundations® implementation in the general classroom (Tier 1) is associated with better performance on four of six tested DIBELS scores in first grade and DIBELS Letter Naming Fluency (LNF) subtest in Kindergarten. LNF is a critically important and telling factor of the potential for developing literacy in younger students. Alphabetic Knowledge, as measured in this subtest, is a strong predictor of how easily a child will learn to read. The study included multiple regression analyses with statistical controls for demographic and behavioral factors and is sufficient for a rating of “Promising Evidence” / Tier 3 on the U.S. Department of Education’s Every Students Success Act (ESSA) evidence scale.

Furthermore, an independent review by the Florida Center for Reading Research identified the following program strengths:

  • Fundations is derived from research that has been proven to be successful with a wide variety of learners.
  • Fundations is highly systematic, both within lessons and across lessons.
  • Multisensory methods are employed in teaching children sounds, their representative letters, and their combination into words, phrases, and sentences.
  • Students learn a variety of techniques to analyze multisyllabic and unknown words, and words with spelling options.
  • Frequent practice and review builds mastery in students. 
  • Fundations can be taught in a 1:1 setting, a small group, or to a whole class, and can be used for prevention, intervention, or immediate, intensive intervention purposes.
  • Many lesson activities and games are geared toward whole class or group participation.
  • Materials are very teacher-friendly, and the Wilson Learning Community gives excellent demonstrations of each of the teaching activity types used in the program. A teacher can thus review each technique as needed.

No program weakness was noted. 

For a full report summarizing research findings, please see: Fundations Evidence of Effectiveness