Home / Programs / Wilson Reading System

Wilson Reading System®: Informed by the Science of Reading

Instruction for Students with Dyslexia

Wilson Reading System® (WRS) is the flagship program of Wilson Language Training® and the foundation of all other Wilson ® programs. The Tier 3 Structured Literacy (SL) program is based on phonological-coding research and Orton-Gillingham principles.

WRS Teacher with student and syllable cards

Everyone Deserves To Learn To Read

Based on more than three decades of data, WRS is designed for students in grades 2–12 and adults with word-level deficits who are not making sufficient progress through their current intervention; have been unable to learn with other teaching strategies; or who require more intensive structured literacy instruction due to a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia.

Student focus

All students in grades 2–12 and adults who are not making sufficient progress in intervention or who may require more intensive instruction due to a language-based learning disability/dyslexia

Group Size

Small group (ideally up to 4 students), one-to-one

Lesson Length

One full lesson consists of all 3 Blocks of instruction (approximately 30 minutes to complete each Block); minimum of two complete lessons per week


Special education classroom, resource room, literacy center, adult education


WRS Level I Certified Wilson® Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.) or WRS Level II Certified Wilson ® Dyslexia Therapist (W.D.T.)

Professional learning & support

● Wilson Academy®/WRS Learning Community (online)

● Program workshops and instructor-led courses

● In-person and online courses on intensive instruction

● Basic and advanced word study

● WRS Level I and II Certification with practicum observations and implementation seminars

● Sustainability plans

Overview of Wilson Reading System

WRS supports college- and career-readiness standards by providing students who have a language-based learning disability with the foundational and language skills that are necessary to access grade-level text. This comprehensive program can follow students from grade to grade, as needed.

The principles of instruction have been identified by research as effective teaching principles found to increase student achievement. WRS also aligns with the International Dyslexia Association’s (IDA) guidelines for working with students with dyslexia (IDA, 2008). Success is achieved through greater intensity, duration, and smaller group sizes.

Unique characteristics set WRS apart from other programs:

  • A systematic, explicit, cumulative, intensive, and focused approach is used to teach the structure of the English language/total word structure for decoding and encoding.
  • A systematic and integrated approach to decoding, morphology and the study of word elements, encoding and orthography (internalizing the rules that govern English), high frequency word instruction, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • Orton-Gillingham principles make all instruction direct, multisensory, and interactive. Consistent links are made between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile pathways to enhance memory and learning of written language.
  • Unique “sound-tapping system” attunes students to the separate phonemes in a word, develops the understanding that the sounds of spoken language work together to make words, and facilitates segmentation and blending of sounds.
  • Material is presented in 12 Steps, not corresponding to school grade levels, that are further divided into 63 incremental substeps, each building upon the previous one. Mastery of each substep is required before progressing to the next one, making the demands of the subsequent substep manageable and achievable. 
  • A ten-part lesson plan that addresses the following in a sensible and logical fashion: decoding, morphology and the study of word elements, encoding and orthography (internalizing the rules that govern English), high frequency word instruction, oral reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • A penciling technique for scooping sentences and passages into meaningful phrases facilitates reading with prosody.
  • Concepts are taught through the manipulation of sound, syllable, and word element (prefix, base element, and suffix) cards.
  • One of the most extensive collections of controlled and readable text (wordlists, sentences, stories) for students beyond the primary grades provided.
  • Three levels of vocabulary offered.
  • Criterion-based assessments are built into the program to measure student progress and success.

To learn more about our approach, please visit Our Approach to Program Design page.

After feeling frustrated and unprepared to help my struggling students, I was beyond fortunate to receive a Wilson Reading System kit from an assistant principal. This gift started my journey into Wilson training and ultimately led to phenomenal success for countless students. I have learned so much during my practicum opportunities, and through these experiences with Wilson materials, I became empowered to confidently support struggling readers and writers. My students and their parents will tell you: Wilson works!

Renee Bernhardt, M.Ed., President, International Dyslexia Association, GA, Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.)

WRS Level I and Level II Certification Accredited by the International Dyslexia Association

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) focuses on the complex issues of dyslexia, promoting effective teacher preparation and intervention strategies for students with dyslexia as one of their goals. Following an independent review process, Wilson Language Training and Wilson® Accredited Partners received the AccreditationPlus designation by the IDA as an Independent Teacher Training Program, indicating our alignment to IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (KPS). This recognition demonstrates that Wilson certified educators are well-qualified to provide instruction to students with dyslexia based on recognized best practices and standards in the field.

WRS teacher displaying word cards for students

Implemented Across the Country

Wilson Reading System® (WRS) effectively develops the reading skills of struggling readers, including individuals with a language-based learning disability.

See what states have recognized WRS

Wilson Reading System® Learning Community

With Wilson Reading System, you gain access to this membership-based companion site, which supports individuals teaching Wilson’s programs. Gain access to reference and instructional materials, expert tips, and more.