“How do I get Wilson Reading Program added to my child’s IEP?” That’s a question that comes up a lot. If your child is a struggling reader, then they need a reading intervention program. But how do you know which one to use or ask for on an IEP.

Below I have listed common reading intervention programs for schools. Of particular note–I use the words “common” and “popular.” That does not necessarily mean that it’s an effective reading intervention program. Parents must do their due diligence if their child has dyslexia or is a struggling reader.

A girl is sitting on a bed, engrossed in reading a book.

This is one area of IEPs where I see a ton of problems. And one area where parents really just need to dig in, learn it, and be relentless in your pursuit of appropriate programming. Too many kids are getting through school without being taught to read.

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Reading Intervention Programs

Here are some of the things I see, as an advocate.

If your child is a struggling reader, you must do a deep dive on this and learn it. Otherwise, your child will get left behind.

A girl on a couch, engaged in reading.

Common IEP Problems with Reading

  • Inappropriate or insufficient evaluations being done to assess reading ability; difficult to determine baselines.
  • Underlying reading issues being attributed to something else like ADHD, non-English speaking families or other disabilities. (in other words, Spanish-speakers can have dyslexia)
  • One-size-fits-all approach in reading instruction, even with an IEP.
  • Cookie cutter accommodations that do absolutely nothing for the child (IE–a child will not learn to read simply by sitting closer to the teacher)
  • Parents are told that a “famous name” reading program is being used, but it is not being used consistently or with fidelity.
  • IEP goals for reading are often worded poorly and confusing to parents, difficult to monitor progress.
  • Goal posts are always moving-different assessments used every grade, so difficult to monitor ability and progress.
  • Dyslexia and other reading disorders are often genetic so many times the parent cannot adequately assist their child.
  • Inappropriate programming chosen just because that is what the district has. (IE-Read 180 says Grade 4 and up, but child only reads at 1st grade level.)
A close up of an open book for reading interventions.

IEP Reading Interventions

Always begin with your Present Levels section of the IEP. It should be a thorough and accurate description of your child. If not, you need to request more IEP evaluations, or perhaps even an IEE.

Remember that they must evaluate in all areas of suspected disability, so in your request letter, accurately and thoroughly describe what you are seeing.

Once the issue has been accurately identified, the team needs to find an appropriate intervention. Below I have listed the more popular options.

Please note, I am NOT a reading specialist or teacher. There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of different reading programs out there. Anecdotally, as a Special Education Advocate, these are the programs I hear talked about the most often.

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It’s also worth noting that in most states, a Reading Specialist is a general education teacher, not a special education teacher.

I am neither recommending any of these programs nor am I discouraging you from other programs by neglecting to include them on this list.

A person engaging in reading interventions while sitting on a stack of books.

Please note: I have labeled these as “popular” reading programs and most educators agree that they are popular. I am not endorsing any specific program nor labeling it appropriate for any SLD.

Parents still need to do their research and due diligence on whatever the school offers you.

I have F&P listed (number 8) because it is popular. Popular does not mean effective.

However, I strongly suggest you read this article if your child is being given F&P.

  1. Wilson Language-Wilson is a provider of research-based reading and spelling programs for all ages. Its multi-sensory, structured curricula – Fundations®, Wilson Just Words®, the Wilson Reading System®, and Wilson Fluency®/Basic have been proven highly effective. With Wilson, the path to meeting literacy objectives is all mapped out. The best way to achieve literacy success is to identify the individual student’s needs and then implement the correct teaching strategy. Each model differs in practice, intensity, and duration, but all have been designed to help students master the appropriate level of literacy.
  2. Orton-Gillingham-The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multi-sensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.
  3. Read 180READ 180 is the leading blended learning intervention program building reading comprehension, academic vocabulary, and writing skills for struggling students in Grades 4 and up.
  4. SRA-SRA Reading Laboratory programs work by color-coding portions of reading materials according to the reading ability level required. It emphasizes the role of the student in directing his own learning, assessing his own skills as he works his way up through the levels. The age range runs from kindergarten age through to grade 12 and beyond.
  5. Barton Reading and Spelling System-A great tutoring system for children, teenagers, or adults who struggle with spelling, reading, and writing due to dyslexia or a learning disability.
  6. Read Naturally-​The Read Naturally Strategy combines the three powerful, research-proven reading intervention strategies to create an effective tool that individualizes instruction and improves reading proficiency. Using audio support and tracking their progress, students work with high-interest material at their skill level to improve fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  7. Lindamood Bell-Lindamood-Bell programs focus on the sensory-cognitive processing necessary for reading and comprehension.
  8. LLI-also known as Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention; Leveled Literacy Intervention provides effective small-group instruction for students who find reading and writing difficult. With engaging leveled books, fast-paced systematically designed lessons, and a high level of built-in professional development, LLI empowers both teachers and students as together they work toward attaining reading and writing proficiency. THIS IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR DYSLEXIA.
A woman engaged in reading activities within a library setting.

Reading Decoding Interventions

It’s important to know exactly what your child’s reading issues are. If it is decoding, here are some programs to consider.

Decoding is a crucial aspect of reading, especially for students who struggle with recognizing and pronouncing words accurately. Here are some programs and resources commonly used for decoding in reading instruction:

  1. Wilson Reading System: This program is renowned for its structured and multisensory approach to teaching decoding, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. It’s particularly effective for students with dyslexia.
  2. Orton-Gillingham Approach: Known for its systematic and sequential instruction, Orton-Gillingham focuses on phonics, phonemic awareness, decoding, spelling, and comprehension, making it suitable for students with reading difficulties.
  3. Phonics for Reading: This program emphasizes systematic phonics instruction, teaching students letter-sound correspondences, blending, decoding, and word recognition skills.
  4. Heggerty Phonemic Awareness: This program focuses specifically on developing phonemic awareness skills, which are essential for decoding. It includes activities and lessons designed to enhance students’ ability to recognize and manipulate individual sounds in words.
  5. SRA Corrective Reading: Corrective Reading is a research-based intervention program that provides explicit instruction in decoding, word attack skills, fluency, and comprehension for struggling readers.
  6. Fundations: Developed by Wilson Language Training, Fundations is a phonics and spelling program designed to teach decoding, encoding, and word recognition skills through a structured and multisensory approach.
  7. Reading Mastery: This program, developed by SRA/McGraw-Hill, offers systematic instruction in phonics, decoding, fluency, and comprehension through scripted lessons and explicit instruction.
  8. Explode The Code: This series of workbooks provides systematic phonics instruction, focusing on phonemic awareness, decoding, word recognition, and spelling skills through engaging activities and exercises.

These programs can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual students and are often used as part of a comprehensive reading intervention program within an educational setting.

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Reading Comprehension Curriculum

Here are some examples of programs and resources that can be used for explicit instruction in reading comprehension:

  1. Wilson Reading System: This program is structured and multisensory, focusing on phonemic awareness, decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  2. Orton-Gillingham Approach: This approach is structured, sequential, and multisensory, emphasizing phonics, decoding, spelling, and reading comprehension.
  3. Reading Mastery: This program provides systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension through scripted lessons and direct instruction.
  4. Lindamood-Bell Programs (e.g., Visualizing and Verbalizing): These programs focus on developing sensory-cognitive processes related to reading and comprehension, such as visualization, verbalization, and concept imagery.
  5. REWARDS: This program focuses on improving reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills through explicit instruction, repeated reading, and strategy instruction.
  6. Read Naturally: This program combines teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to improve reading fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary skills.
  7. Great Leaps Reading: This program focuses on building fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary skills through one-on-one instruction and repeated reading of short passages.
  8. Thinking Reader: This program integrates instruction in reading comprehension strategies such as summarizing, predicting, questioning, and clarifying with opportunities for practice and feedback.

These programs can be implemented as part of an IEP to provide structured and targeted instruction in reading comprehension for students who require additional support.

It’s important to select a program that aligns with the student’s specific needs and learning style, and to provide ongoing assessment and monitoring to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

The school said they’re doing Wilson, but won’t put it on the IEP.

Yep, not surprised. This is where it can get ugly and contentious. And I really don’t understand why. If nothing else, I expect our schools to teach our kids to read and write. Really, it’s the main two! If nothing else, reading and writing.

“They said they can’t put it on the IEP.” You’re being gaslighted. Yes, they can. They have just been instructed by higher ups not to, as it increases their level of accountability. See, most of the reading curricula described above have well defined parameters. Start poking around those websites.

Listed is what they expect of instructors, how they get and stay certified, and what it takes to implement the program properly and with fidelity. This is what you need to stay on top of as a parent.

If they are going to provide the program, why wouldn’t they name it? Ask them to show you where it says in IDEA or state special education regulations that you cannot name a specific curriculum on an IEP.

Because what I find as an advocate is that many schools use the “spirit” of the program, but are not doing the program to the letter. And then, what’s the point? It’d be like me giving my son only half of his daily seizure meds, and expecting them to control seizures. No!

These programs have been found to help children read under the guidelines and parameters given, not under a “DIY” option! The evidence-based programs are only evidence-based if you follow the instructions.

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How to Get Reading Programs on an IEP

  1. First, make sure that your child’s needs are appropriately identified.
  2. Then, you’re going to have to research reading programs. Ask which programs the school uses, and do in-depth research on the specifics of each program.
  3. Decide if the offered program is appropriate for your child’s age and reading ability. If not, as a team you have to choose something else. (This may get contentious and stressful, they want to just use what they have.)
  4. Ask that it get put on the IEP. If they decline, ask for that information on a PWN. From there, you’re going to have to decide how far you wish to pursue this.
  5. You’re going to have to learn the progress monitoring system that the school uses, and how to track it. You absolutely must stay on top of progress monitoring.

Lastly, if you have the means to do it, the path of least resistance may be to just pay for this privately. There are private tutors out there that provide these programs. No, you shouldn’t have to. I get it. But like I said, path of least resistance.

Here is another guide to literacy programs and reading interventions for schools.

Good luck in your advocacy and reading journey!

Raise a Reader!

  1. What is AR Reading? And what do the Color Levels mean?
  2. Tips for Teaching Inflectional Endings or Inflected Endings + Free Worksheet PDF!
  3. Free Phonics Worksheets including CVC, Dipthongs, Vowels, Blends and More.
  4. 10 Research-Based Vocabulary Interventions for an IEP or RTI/MTSS
  5. How to Write a Meaningful IEP for Dyslexia (includes IEP Goals for Dyslexia)
  6. Phonological Awareness vs Phonemic Awareness: What’s the Difference and What’s the Same?
  7. 26 Free Alphabet Worksheets for Preschool and Kindergarten
  8. 20 Common Reading Intervention Programs for Schools (+how to get one on your IEP)
  9. Reading Comprehension Strategies: How to Improve Reading Comprehension (and then Reading Speed and Fluency)
  10. 30 Book Reading Challenge for Kids: Free Printable Reading Tracker
  11. What Is Decoding in Reading? A Simple Explanation
  12. Is Lindamood Bell Worth the Money?
  13. 13 Free Summer Reading Programs For Kids
  14. Dolch Sight Words: Free PDF Lists and Worksheets
  15. What are Temporal Words? (includes anchor chart)
  16. Is Your 3rd Grader Struggling? It’s Probably the Matthew Effect in Reading.
  17. Fry’s First 100 Words | PDF | Printable
  18. What is a Frayer Model? | Example | Blank Template
  19. Elkonin Boxes for Dyslexia | Phonemic Awareness | Examples | PDF

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