As implemented in its one qualifying study, the Wilson Reading System® is a complete curriculum for teaching reading to children in grades 3 and above who did not learn to read well in the primary grades. It focuses on phonics, but also emphasizes fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. It uses a multisensory approach based on Orton-Gillingham methods. Teachers receive extensive professional development including (in the study) 70 hours of professional development.
The only qualifying evaluation of Wilson Reading System® was a study that took place in urban and suburban areas surrounding Pittsburgh, PA. Significant positive effects were found on Woodcock Word Attack (effect size =+0.46), and Word Identification (effect size =+0.15). Based on these outcomes, Wilson Reading System® qualified for the ESSA “Strong” category. However, there were no significant impacts on other measures of reading, including state test scores, so the average effect size was only +0.17.