Fundations is an adaptation of the Wilson Reading System, created by Barbara A. Wilson.The Wilson Reading System was published in 1988. Fundations was published in 2002. (FCRR)
Fundations is an adaptation of the Wilson Reading System. The WRS is a remedial program based on the principles of Orton-Gillingham methodology. Intended to teach reading and writing skills to students who struggle, including those with language learning disability or dyslexia.Fundations, however, is intended to provide the foundations for life-long literacy for all children.Whole Class: Fundations would be the core program. The 20-30 min. instruction should be combined with literature-based instruction. The struggling students (30th %ile) should have additional targeted instruction in a small group setting.Lowest 30th %-ile: 40-60 min. per day includes the 20-25 min. lesson and then supplemental activities. This is when Fundations is not used in the general classroom.Language Learning Disability: to be combined with a literature-based program. An alternative to a non-WRS core LA program.Language Learning Disability: to be combined with a literature-based program. An alternative to a non-WRS core LA program.
Wilson’s Fundations claims to cover all 5 of the key reading components identified by the National Reading Panel, as well as some others.
Day 1: Drill sounds with focus on student needs; Segment and blend words for reading; “Word Talk” vocabulary words; Flash cards for Trick Words.Day 2: Drill sounds using large and standard sound cards; fluency drills with sounds, words, non-real words, Trick Words, and phrases; Group practice and chart success for individuals.Day 3: Drill sounds; Echo find letters/words; Dictation sounds, words, and Trick Words (on dry erase boards); Fluency drills sounds and words.Day 4: Drill sounds with focus on student needs; “Word Talk” vocabulary words; Flash cards for Trick Words; Fluency drills trick words and non-real words and chart success for individuals.Day 5: Drill sounds; Fluency drills for phrases; Group practice and chart success for individuals; Work on prosody with Unit story.
Fundations Teachers Manual, Student Composition Book (daily writing, unit assessments), Student Notebook (sounds, spelling, vocabulary in ABC order), Magnetic Letter Board, Sound Cards, White Board (for letter/word writing practice), Alphabet on a sentence strip, Mother Echo, Baby Echo
Sound Cards: so explicit that students are able to help lead the group. Students love playing the “teacher.” (Show only the first 30-45 seconds.)Fundations Dictation: a small group example (2 girls) but this is identical to what would be done in a whole group as well.
This is a simplified version of what is given in the teacher’s manual on pg. 158-159. Each level has its own scope and sequence which builds upon previous levels and brings back skills from previous levels/units to review.
Great for first-year or veteran teachers. Not only does the program promote explicit instruction for students, but it provides explicit instruction for teachers as well. Fundations itself claims to be a non-comprehensive program because it does not have the element of literature based instruction. However, I believe that if having literature which corresponds to those skills being taught, it would have immediate practical implications for the students and therefore provide more motivation for the students to learn, rather than simple rote repetition.
As long as the teacher is prepared, everything should work wonderfully. Preparation is a key element in the success of this program. This program is meant to work in conjunction with a literature-based program, so it is important to do these programs in tandem. One without the other will not be as successful.
WWC found only two studies on Fundations, but neither were eligible for review within their standards. Therefore, they cannot determine if Fundations actually “works.”
Fundations – Level 1
Based on Principles of Orton-Gillingham Methodology
Systematic, sequential, and multi-sensory
Three Potential Implementations
20-30 min. per day
With additional instruction for struggling students
Students in Lowest 30th Percentile
Lowest 30th Percentile
Daily lesson, plus supplemental activities
40-60 min. per day
Students with a Language Learning Disability
Language Learning Disability
One to one instruction, or small group
20-30 min. daily lesson
25-30 min. 1:1 instruction
30-60 min. decodable text
The 5 Key Components, along with others
Letter to sound
Sound to letter
Sight Word Instruction
Structure of a 5 Day Week
•Segment and blend words
sounds with sound cards
talk” vocabulary words
•Echo find letters and words
(sounds, words, non-real
words, TW, phrases)
•Fluency drills (sounds/ words)
•“Word talk” vocabulary words
•Fluency drills (phrases)
•Fluency drills (trick words)
•Prosody (unit story)
• ABC order
Magnetic Letter Board
• Whole group
example of students saying
and echoing with sound cards
example of small group work on
dictation, tapping out words, spelling and
•Strengths and Weaknesses
Explicit and Systematic
Engages with all 5 Key Components
Teaches for Mastery of Concepts
Whole Group or Individualized
Aligns with Common Core State
No Literature-based instruction
Fundations do what it claims?
is extremely systematic and explicit.
•Its repetition and routines encourage growth in
phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary,
studies of Fundations® that fall within the scope of the Students with
Learning Disabilities review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)
evidence standards. The lack of studies meeting WWC evidence standards
means that, at this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on
research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Fundations® on students
with learning disabilities.”
R. V. (2007). The effects of the Wilson Reading System and Fundations on the decoding skills of
elementary students with reading disabilities. Unpublished master's thesis, California State
University- San Marcos.
because of study design and unequivalent group comparisons.
C., & Wahl, M. (2004). Fundations. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Center for Reading Research.
because it is a secondary analysis.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000).
Report of the national reading panel. Teaching children to read:
an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research
literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction
(NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office.
Robinson, C., & Wahl, M. (2004). Fundations. Tallahassee, FL: Florida
Center for Reading Research.
Wilson, Barbara A. (2002). Fundations teacher's manual grades k-1.
first edition. Oxford, MA: Wilson Language Training
WWC Intervention Report (2010). Fundations: students with learning
disabilies. What Works Clearinghouse. Retrieved from: