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Doing Your Homework
My Child is Making Progress - WHY Would the School Switch Reading Programs?
by Sue Whitney , Research Editor, Wrightslaw

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"I am trying to find research on the appropriateness of switching from one research based reading program to another.

My daughter has made huge progress (proven by recent testing) in an Orton-Gillingham / MTA program and now the school district is trying to switch her into the Wilson program.

Why would they switch when progress is being made?"

Sue's Response

You say that your daughter has made "huge progress" in the MTA program so I am puzzled as to why the school district is proposing to discontinue it and switch to a different program with a different sequence.

The programs are not interchangeable.

The MTA program (Multisensory Teaching Approach) and the Wilson program do not teach skills in the same sequence. Therefore, switching from one program to another will require starting at a lower level in order to fill in gaps.

The Wilson program consists of 12 Steps. Your daughter's progress in Wilson will (should) be tracked with the Wilson Assessment of Decoding and Encoding (WADE) and by a post-test at the end of every Step.

The Wilson program instructions say that the WADE

"should be administered prior to instruction in the Wilson Reading System. It can be used for pre and post-testing purposes as well as placement and pacing guides for the Wilson Reading System."

After the WADE is administered the scores on the various parts are summarized in the "WADE - Summary of Scores" and the "Mastery Report".

The WADE also contains a "Report of Wilson Instruction" and a "Skills Report".

The Report of Wilson Instruction reports the Step and Sub-step the student is on and the percent of mastery of

  • reading real words,
  • reading nonsense words,
  • reading sight words,
  • spelling real words,
  • spelling nonsense words, and
  • spelling sight words,
  • plus the percent of mastery of the dictation items

The Skills Report rates 23 skills related to

  • Vocabulary and Comprehension,
  • Oral Reading,
  • Handwriting/Writing Skills, and
  • Other skills (alphabetic sequencing, independent phonemic
    segmentation, independent syllable division, ability to follow directions, self-reliance, attention-directed lesson, attention-independent work, and word retrieval)
    on a 1 to 5 scale, 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.

Ask for these reports when your daughter starts the Wilson program and each time the WADE is administered for progress monitoring. The post-test at the end of each Step covers Reading, Concepts, and Spelling.

Ask for these reports as part of the progress monitoring and reporting on progress toward the annual IEP goals.

But first, get more information on why the district is proposing the change to the Wilson program when the MTA program has been so successful.


More about Reading

Created 10/14/08

Meet Sue Whitney

Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.

Doing Your Homework, Suzanne Whitney gives savvy advice about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.

Her articles have been reprinted by,,, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.

Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc.

She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC).

Sue Whitney's bio.

Copyright © 2002-2022 by Suzanne Whitney.

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