To determine if Wilson Reading System® (WRS) instruction is appropriate for a particular student, school professionals and parents should begin by evaluating a student’s foundational reading and spelling skills (word-level reading and spelling). Norm-referenced reading assessments that measure word identification, word attack, and spelling may be used for this purpose.
Students With Poor Word Reading and Spelling With or Without Comprehension Deficits
Low scores on tests that measure word identification, word attack, and spelling indicate that a student has not yet mastered foundational skills for reading and writing. While a student who is lacking these foundational skills may benefit from WRS instruction, a comprehensive educational evaluation is often needed (especially for students with dyslexia) to examine patterns of academic strengths and weaknesses, fully determine if WRS instruction is appropriate, and guide instructional pacing and progress.
Students who lack reading fluency skills may also score below expected levels on reading comprehension subtests. WRS includes extensive instruction of comprehension strategies using both narrative and informational text.
It’s also worth noting that some students demonstrate weak reading comprehension even if word-level skills are intact. This could be due to attentional problems and/or weaknesses in working memory, vocabulary, or oral language/listening comprehension abilities. Proper reading interventions should be explored to address these findings.
Students With Weak Rapid Naming/Processing Speed and/or Poor Orthographic Memory
Some students have adequate phonological awareness and alphabetic knowledge but weak rapid naming/processing speed and/or poor orthographic memory. As a result, they have difficulty with reading fluency and comprehension. Since WRS develops a student’s orthographic processing and automaticity of word reading while simultaneously working on fluency and comprehension, it is an appropriate intervention for these students as well.
Students With Significant Phonological Awareness, Working Memory, and Rapid Naming Difficulties
Students who have significant difficulties with phonological awareness, working memory, and rapid naming are often the most severely impaired in reading (Morris et al., 1998). These students are appropriate for a more intensive implementation of WRS, especially in the hands of a well-trained and experienced WRS instructor.
Wilson® Assessment of Decoding and Encoding (WADE)
After a student is identified for WRS instruction, the teacher should administer the WADE as a pretest prior to instruction to obtain a baseline and to determine a student’s placement and potential pacing through the initial WRS Steps. Alternative WADE forms are also provided to use as a posttest after an instructional period (e.g., school year) and for reporting on student learning outcomes in relation to progress through the WRS curriculum. For more information about the WADE, visit this page.
Note: Although we provide guidelines on student identification and placement in each Wilson program, the guidelines are not absolutes and should be informed by the knowledge held by the Student Support/RTI team and/or IEP team as they make a recommendation for a particular student.