reading, early intervention, intensive intervention, culturally and linguistically diverse students, emergent bilinguals, implementation science, learning disabilities, professional development, multitiered systems of support (MTSS), equity

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 2024!  Applicants with an interest in reading, early intervention, multitiered systems of support, 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 February 1.  For more information visit,

My research interests lie at the intersection of formative assessment 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 models of school improvement such as multitiered systems of support or MTSS. 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 needs, 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 ongoing progress monitoring 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 special education leaders must be equipped to conduct research, develop practices that can be scaled up, and lead to socially important 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 in 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 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 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.

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


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

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





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

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

Peer-reviewed articles 

Kelly, J.* & Cummings, K.D. (2023). Teaching theme using theory of mind during interactive read alouds. Reading Psychology. 10.1080/02702711.2023.2276571  

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. Journal of School Psychology, 92, 299-323.  10.1016/j.jsp.2022.04.001

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, 7, 733-851. 10.3389/feduc.2022.733851   

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. 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

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:

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

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

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

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

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).

Cummings, K.D. & Smolkowski, K. (2022-2027). Reading mastery project. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, NCSER Initial Efficacy. $3,800,000.  Role: Principal Investigator 

Cummings, K.D. & Pepkin Dataram, S.* (2022-2023). A meta-analysis of data-based decision making and its impact on student reading outcomes. University of Maryland Graduate School, Faculty-Student Research Award. $10,000. Role: Principal Investigator 

Cummings, K.D. & Shin, R.Q. (2020-2022). A missing link in understanding disproportionality in special education: Assessing implicit racial bias in academic decision making. The University of Maryland Catalyst program, New Directions Fund, Proof of Concept award. $49,998. Role: Principal Investigator 

Cummings, K.D. (2017). Investigation of quality in reading instruction for reading disability identification. University of Maryland, The Graduate School Research and Scholarship Awards. $15,000. Role: Principal Investigator 

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. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. $1,600,00. Role: Co-Principal Investigator 

Cummings, K.D. (2016). Linking outcomes to practices. University of Maryland College of Education, Support Program for Advancing Research and Collaboration. $14,996. Role: Principal Investigator 

Silverman, R.D., Taboada Barber, A., & Cummings, K.D. (2015). Research-practice partnerships in language and literacy. University of Maryland, Office of the Vice President for Research, Tier 1 Seed Grant Program. $50,000.  Role: Co-Investigator 

FIckas, S., Cummings, K.D., and Prideaux, J. (2013). Project HiFI: Promoting High FIdelity of screening and progress monitoring assessments. U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, SBIR Phase 1. $150,000. Role Co-Principal Investigator


EDSP 872 IH17: Theory and Empirical Design in Educational Research 
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