equity, data-based decision making, formative assessment, implementation science, intensive intervention, disability policy, school improvement, assessment, special education, Learning disabilities

I am an Associate  Professor of Special Education at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). My research interests lie at the intersection of data-based decision making and intensive intervention planning.  I conduct studies to evaluate and improve the reliability, validity, and accuracy of assessment tools that are used to evaluate student progress.  I also focus on areas of school improvement (e.g., MTSS) in academics and behavior.  All of my work is guided through the lens of implementation science, which is the "...scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based [interventions] into routine practice” (Eccles & Mittman, 2006).  Even efficacious practices that do not take into account school need, education policy, or the infrastructure required to implement the practice at scale are likely to result in low levels of adoption (Horner et al., 2014). Additionally, interventions without formal mechanisms for data-based decision making are less likely to be sustained and reach students from diverse backgrounds. Given recent shifts in policy, funding, and practice-based educational research priorities, I believe it is critical that special education leaders are equipped to conduct research, develop practices that are scalable, and lead to socially important, sustainable outcomes.

As a faculty member at UMD, I adhere to a strong-student, strong-advisor model of graduate student preparation coupled with a gradual increase of responsibility (Collet, 2012).  What this means in practice is that I frontload the graduate experience with coaching and modeling of various stages of the research process. For the first two years you will build your skills as a researcher and critical consumer of the scholarly literature. In Years 3 and beyond, the individual student will primarily direct his or her graduate experience.  

In addition to my academic appointment at UMD I also affiliate and conduct research within the UMD's Language and Literacy Center (LLRC). The LLRC brings together faculty and students to focus on language and literacy issues in education from different perspectives. This center is part of a larger campus initiative, the Language Science Center (LSC), which focuses on advancing language science at the University of Maryland and beyond, through integrated research and training that links fundamental science with applications in education, technology, and health. Through the LLRC and the LSC, I foresee the faculty and students at the University of Maryland having a major impact on improving language and literacy education at the state, national, and international levels.

Prior to my appointment at Maryland, I worked as a Research Associate and Director of Measurement and Evaluation (University of Oregon) and an Assistant Professor of School Psychology (University of Montana). I have also worked in the field as a special educator in reading and math (Grades 3 – 5) and a school psychologist (certified from birth – Age 21). I bring the practical experience gained in these roles to my work at UMD.

Notice to Applicants for the Ph.D. Program in Special Education

It is an exciting time to be entering the field of special education. The role of the special educator has evolved dramatically over the past decade, and I work actively with my graduate students to address current needs and issues related to those research-to-practice demands.

I will be accepting a Ph.D. student for mentorship for Fall 2021!  Applicants with an interest in data-based decision making, formative assessment, implementation science, and developing intensive interventions are especially encouraged to apply. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any specific questions. Applications for the doctoral program are due December 1.  For more information visit,   https://education.umd.edu/admissions/graduate/phd-special-education


Collet, V. (2012). The gradual increase of responsibility model: Coaching for teacher change. Literacy Research and Instruction, 51, 27-47. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2010.549548

Eccles, M. P. & Mittman, B. S. (2006). Welcome to Implementation Science. Implementation Science, 1(1), 1–3. Retrieved from http://www.implementationscience.com/content/1/1/1

Horner, R.H, Kincaid, D., Sugai, G., Lewis, T., Eber, L., Barrett, S., . . . Johnson, N. (2014). Scaling up School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports: Experiences of seven states with documented success. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 16(4), 197-208. doi: 10.1177/1098300713503685

Faculty Affiliate in the Maryland Language and Literacy Research Center
Faculty Affiliate in the Maryland Language Science Center



2014 - present, Editorial Board Member, The Elementary School Journal 
2017 - present, Editorial Board Member, Learning Disability Quarterly
2018 - 2020, Principal Member, Institute of Education Sciences, Reading, Writing, and Language Development Panel 
2016 - 2020, Associate Editor, School Psychology Review
2015 - 2017, Editorial Board Member, School Psychology Review 
2015 - 2019, Research Committee Chair, Council for Learning Disabilities: https://www.council-for-learning-disabilities.org/
2014 - 2019, Editorial Board Member, Assessment for Effective Intervention

Selected Recent Refereed Publications (see CV for all publications)
*denotes publications with graduate students 

Baker, D.L., Cummings, K.D., & Smolkowski, K. (2022). Diagnostic Accuracy of Spanish and English Screeners with Spanish and English Criterion Measures for Bilingual Students in Grades 1 and 2. Accepted for publication 

Petscher, Y., Cummings, K.D., Killian, M., Woods, M., & Herrera, S. (2022). Testing the importance of individual growth in predicting state-level outcomes beyond status measures. Frontiers in Education. Accepted pending minor revisions  

Cummings, K.D., Smolkowski, K., & Baker, D.L. (2019). Comparison of literacy screener risk selection between English proficient students and English learners. Learning Disability Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0731948719864408

Reed, D.K., Cummings, K.D., Schaper, A.D., Lynn, D.*, & Biancarosa, G. (2018). Accuracy in identifying students’ miscues during oral reading: a taxonomy of scorers’ mismarkings. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal . Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s11145-018-9899-5

Smolkowski, K. & Cummings, K.D. (2016) Evaluation of the DIBELS (6th Edition) diagnostic system for the selection of native and proficient English speakers at risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. doi: doi:10.1177/0734282915589017

Cummings, K.D. & Smolkowski, K. (2015). Bridging the gap: Selecting students at risk for academic difficulties. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 44(1), 55-61. doi: 10.1177/1534508415590396

Smolkowski, K. & Cummings, K.D. (2015). Evaluation of diagnostic systems: The selection of students at risk for academic difficulties. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 41(1), 41-54. 10.1177/1534508415590386

Park, Y., Chaparro, E.A., Preciado, J., & Cummings, K.D. (2015). The importance of early mastery of basic reading skills. Early Education and Development. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2015.1015855

Cummings, K.D., Biancarosa, G., Schaper, A.*, & Reed, D.K. (2014). Examiner error in curriculum-based measurement of oral reading. Journal of School Psychology, 52(4), 361-375. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2014.05.007

Biancarosa, G. & Cummings, K.D. (2014). New metrics, measures, and uses for fluency data: An introduction to a special issue on the assessment of reading fluency [Special issue]. Reading and Writing, 28(1), 1-7. doi: 10.1007/s11145-014-9516-1

Cummings, K.D., Stoolmiller, M., Baker, S.K., Fien, F., & Kame'enui, E.J. (2014). Using school-level student achievement to engage in formative evaluation: Comparative school-level rates of oral reading fluency growth conditioned by initial skill for second-grade students [Special issue]. Reading and Writing, 28(1), 105-130. doi: 10.1007/s11145-014-9512-5

Reed, D.K., Cummings, K.D., Allen, E.A., Weiser, B.L., Hott, B.L., & Smolkowski, K. (2014). Synthesis of research symposium at CLD’s 35th international conference on learning disabilities: Must reads for 2013. LD Quarterly, 37, 230-240. doi: 10.1177/0731948714523435

Smith, J.L., Cummings, K.D., Nese, J.F.T., Alonzo, J., Fien, F., & Baker, S.K. (2014). The relation of word reading fluency initial level and gains with reading outcomes. School Psychology Review, 43(1), 30-40. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/spr/index.aspx?vol=43&issue=1

Reed, D.K., Cummings, K.D., Schaper, A.*, & Biancarosa, G. (2014). Assessment fidelity in reading intervention research: A synthesis of the literature. Review of Education Research, 84(2), 275-321. doi: 10.3102/0034654314522131

Reed, D.K., Weiser, B., Cummings, K.D., & Shapiro, E. (2013). Synthesis of research symposium at CLD’s 34th international conference on learning disabilities: Must reads for 2012. LD Quarterly, 36(4), 195-202. doi:10.1177/0731948713480788

Nese, J.F.T., Biancarosa, G., Cummings, K.D., Kennedy, P.C.*, Alonzo, J., & Tindal, G. (2013). In search of average growth: Describing within-year oral reading fluency growth across Grades 1 – 8. Journal of School Psychology, 51(5), 625-642. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsp.2013.05.006

Petscher, Y., Cummings, K.D., Biancarosa, G., & Fien, F. (2013). Advanced (measurement) applications of curriculum-based measurement in reading. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 38(2) 71-75. doi: 10.1177/1534508412461434

Cummings, K.D., Park, Y., & Bauer Schaper, H.A. (2013). Form effects on DIBELS Next oral reading fluency progress monitoring passages [Special issue]. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 38(2), 91-104. doi: 10.1177/1534508412447010

Atkins, T.A., & Cummings, K.D. (2011). Utility of oral reading and retell fluency in predicting proficiency on the Montana comprehensive assessment system. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 30(2), 3-12. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1jo1Vpv

Cummings, K.D., Dewey, B., Latimer, R., & Good, R.H. (2011). Pathways to word reading and decoding: The roles of automaticity and accuracy. School Psychology Review, 40(2), 284-295. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/publications/spr/index.aspx?vol=40&issue=2

Cummings, K.D., Kaminski, R.A., Good, R.H., & O'Neil, M.* (2010). Assessing phonemic awareness in preschool and kindergarten: development and initial validation of first sound fluency. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 36(2), 94-106. doi: 10.1177/1534508410392209

Cummings, K.D., Atkins, T.A., Allison, R., & Cole, C. (2008). Response to intervention: Investigating the new role of special educators. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(4), 24-31. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/TBvmhd

Cummings, K.D., Kaminski, R.A., & Merrell, K.W. (2008). Advances in the assessment of social competence: Findings from a preliminary investigation of a general outcome measure (GOM) for social behavior. Psychology in the Schools, 45(10), 930-946. doi: 10.1002/pits.20343

Edited Publications

Journal Special Issues

Cummings, K.D., & Biancarosa, G. (2015). Special issue: New metrics, measures, and uses for fluency data. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 28(1).

Petscher, Y., Cummings, K.D., Biancarosa, G., & Fien, F. (2013). Special series: Measurement issues in the assessment of reading fluency. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 38(2).

Edited Books

Cummings, K.D. & Petscher, Y. (Eds.). (2016). The Fluency Construct: Curriculum-Based Measurement Concepts and Applications. New York: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2803-3




Project Title/Funding Source



Cummings, K.D. & Shin, R.Q. (2020-2021) A missing link in understanding disproportionality in special education: Assessing implicit racial bias in academic decision making


University of Maryland Catalyst program, New Directions Funds , Proof of Concept award.



Silverman, R.D., Cummings, K.D., De La Paz, S., Taboada Barber, A., & Wexler, J. (2016-2020). Project ProPELL: Preparing Practice-based researchers with Expertise in Language and Literacy to support high-need students with disabilities.



Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education (H325D150062)

$1.6 million



Project Title/Funding Source



Cummings, K.D., Smolkowkis, K., & Gunn, B. Reading Mastery Project



U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Reading, Writing and Language Development, Initial Efficacy and Follow-Up

$3.8 million


Spicer, D.E., Terry, M., Terrell-Shockley, E., Cummings, K.D., Shahrokhi , F., Viano, S., & DeFilippis , K. Addressing Racial and Ethnic Inequities in Learning: The District Role in Catalyzing Equity-grounded Improvement Science


  WT Grant Foundation, Major Research Grants $499,995

EDSP 872: Theory and Empirical Design in Educational Research
EDSP 671: Qualitative Methodologies in Special Education
EDSP 670: The Use of Single-Subject Designs in Education
EDSP 451.652: Curriculum and Instruction: Elementary Special Education
EDSP 417: Reading Diagnosis and Assessment
EDSP 415.615: Assessment in Special Education
EDSP 413.613:  Comparative Approaches to Behavior and Classroom Management in Special Education
EDSP 289i: Disability: From Stigma and Sideshow to Mainstream and Main Street  Syllabus Repository (co-instructor)