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Wilson Reading System®

The leading solution for the most challenged reader.

WRS is an intensive, Orton-Gillingham-based, Tier 3 multisensory structured literacy program for individuals with a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia.

Everyone Deserves To Learn To Read

WRS is the flagship program of Wilson Language Training® and the foundation of all other Wilson programs. Based on 30+ years of data, it is designed for students in grades 2–12 and adults with word-level deficits lacking an internalized sound-symbol system for reading and spelling 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.

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

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 absolutely necessary to be able to access grade-level text. This comprehensive program can follow students from grade to grade, as needed.

The principles of instruction align with those identified by research as effective teaching principles found to increase student achievement, and with the International Dyslexia Association’s 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 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 52 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.)

Program Effectiveness

Wilson Reading System® (WRS) effectively develops the reading skills of individuals with a language-based learning disability or who have otherwise struggled to learn to read.

The Wilson Academy/Just Words® Learning Community

The Wilson Academy® Learning Communities are membership-based companion sites to support individuals teaching Wilson’s programs. They provide the Wilson teaching community with anytime, anywhere access to reference and instructional materials, as well as networking opportunities.