Matthew Burns

Matthew Burns 

Fein Professor of Special Education

Matthew Burns






Dr. Matthew K. Burns is a prolific researcher (e.g., published over 200 articles and book chapters and 15 books), but is dedicated to positively influencing practice in K-12 schools and mentoring the next generation of thought leaders in education. As one of the leading researchers regarding the use of assessment data to determine individual or small-group interventions, Dr. Burns works closely with schools to study and implement multitiered systems of support, intensive reading and math interventions, school-based teams, and generally supporting students with and without disabilities whose needs are not being met. He is a Past Editor of School Psychology Review and Assessment for Effective Intervention. Dr. Burns was also a first-generation college student who was born in Flint, Michigan and served on the faculty of the University of Missouri for 9 years, University of Minnesota for 10 years and Central Michigan University for 5 years.


  • School of Special Education School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies
  • University of Florida Literacy Institute

Research Interests

Achievement, Disabilities Assessment and Outcomes, Diverse Learners, Educational Assessment and Measurement, Evidence-based Practices, Multi-tiered Systems of Support, Reading, School Psychology, Single Subject Research/Single Case Design, Special Education


  • Ph.D. - Andrews University
  • Ed.S. - Andrews University

Activities and Honors

  • 2023 Article of the Year Award from School Psychology for Barrett, Burns, Maki, Clinkscales, Hajovsky, & Spears (2022).
  • 2022 Most Read Article award from School Psychology Review for Eklund, Oyer, Burns, Demarchena, & McCollom (2022).
  • 2020 Senior Scientist Award from Division 16 (School Psychology) of the American Psychological Association.
  • Named the initial University of Missouri Herbert W. Schooling College of Education Faculty Member (2021-2024).
  • 2019 Article of the Year Award from Assessment for Effective Intervention for Burns, Haegele, Zaslofsky, Parker, & Maki (2018).
  • Named a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2019.
  • Received the 2015 Presidential Award for Outstanding Contributions to Children and School Psychology from the National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Inducted into the Society for the Study of School Psychology in May of 2009.
  • Three times named the most prolific researcher in school psychology.

Selected Grants

A longitudinal investigation of predictors and outcomes of specific learning disabilities identification

  • Co-PI
Funding Agency
  • U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences
Project Period
  • 2023-2027
Award Amount
  • $1,700,000.00

The Effects of PACT on Social Studies Knowledge and Comprehension Among 8th Grade Students: A Replication of Vaughn et al. (2013)

  • Co-PI
Funding Agency
  • U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences
Project Period
  • 2020-2025
Award Amount
  • $4,000,000

Selected Publications

Books / Book Chapters
  • Riley-Tillman, T. C. Burns, M. K., & Kilgus, S. A. (2020). Single case design for measuring response to educational intervention, (2nd ed.). Guilford.
  • Burns, M. K. (2019, Ed.). Introduction to school psychology: Controversies and current practice. Oxford University Press. Translated to Chinese in 2021.
  • Burns, M. K., Riley-Tillman, T. C., & Rathvon, N. (2017). Effective school interventions: Evidence-based strategies for improving student outcomes (3rd ed.). Guilford.
  • Jimerson, S., Burns, M. K., & VanDerHeyden, A. M. (2016, Eds.). The handbook of response to intervention: The science and practice of assessment and intervention (2nd ed.). Springer.
  • Burns, M. K. & Parker, D. C. (2014). Curriculum-based assessment for instructional design: Using data to individualize instruction. Guilford.
  • Riley-Tillman, T.C., Burns, M. K., & Gibbons, K. (2013). Advanced RTI applications, Volume 2: Assessment, design, analysis and decision making. Guilford.
  • Burns, M. K. & Gibbons, K. (2012). Response to intervention implementation in elementary and secondary schools: Procedures to assure scientific-based practices (2nd edition). Routledge.
  • Burns, M. K., Riley-Tillman, T. C., & VanDerHeyden, A. M. (2012). Advanced RTI applications: Intervention design and implementation. Guilford.
  • Burns, M. K. & Welland, J. B. (in press). Cognitive assessment. In M. I. Axelrod & S. Hupp (Eds.) Investigating school psychology pseudoscience. Routledge.
  • Burns, M. K., Romero, M. E., Duesenberg-Marshall, M. D., Wan, H. T., & Abdelnaby, H. (in press). Advances in assessment to monitor progress and performance. In C. Okolo, N. P. Terry, & L. Cutting (Eds.) Handbook of learning disabilities (3rd ed.). Guilford.
  • Burns, M. K., & Clemens, N. H. (2023). Best practices in school applications of the science of reading. In A. Thomas, P. Harrison, & S. Proctor (Eds.) Best practices in school psychology (7th ed., 241-252). National Association of School Psychologists
  • Burns, M. K., Duesenberg, M. D., & Romero, M. E. (2022). Skill-by-treatment interaction: Increasing the likelihood for success. In J.J. Andrews, S. R. Shaw, J. F. Domene, & C. McMorris (Eds.) Mental health assessment, prevention, and intervention (pp. 85-106). Springer.
  • Burns, M. K., Stevens, M., & Ysseldyke, J. (2022). Instruction and student engagement: Implications for academic engaged time. In S. L. Christenson & A. L. Reschly (Eds.) Handbook of research on student engagement (2nd ed.; pp. 469-486). Springer.
  • Burns, M. K., McCollom, E., & Kanive, R. (2021). Theories for reading, writing, and mathematics. In K. K. Kelly, C. Albers, & A. Garbacz (Eds.). Theoretical foundations of school psychology research and practice (pp. 226-253). Routledge.
  • Burns, M. K., Maki, K. E., & Aguilar, L. N. (2021). Being a mentor in scholarship. In R. G. Floyd & T. L. Eckert (Eds.), Handbook of university and professional careers in school psychology (pp. 401-418). Routledge.
  • Burns, M. K., Aguilar, L., *Taylor, C. N. (2020). Helping teachers use progress monitoring data for intervention decisions. In F. C. Worrell & T. L. Hughes (Eds.) Cambridge handbook of applied school psychology (pp. 102-119). Cambridge University Press.
  • Burns, M. K., & Maki K. E. (2019). Learning disabilities: helping handout for home. In G. Bear & K. Minke (Eds.), Helping children handouts IV. National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Burns, M. K., & Maki, K. E. (2019). Learning disabilities: helping handout for general education teachers. In G. Bear & K. Minke (Eds.), Helping children handouts IV. National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Burns, M. K., Coolong-Chaffin, M., & Kanive, R., (2018). Academic skill problems. In P. C. Kendall (Ed.) Cognitive therapy with children and adolescents: A casebook for clinical practice (pp. 273-300). Guilford.
  • Burns. M. K., Maki, K. E., Warmbold-Brann, K., & Preast, J. L. (2018). Using student response to intervention to identify SLD: Requirements, recommendations, and future research. In D. P. Flanagan & V. C. Alfonso (Eds.). Essentials of specific learning disability identification (2nd ed., pp. 257-284). Wiley.
  • Burns, M. K., & Petersen-Brown, S. (2018). Building theory and promoting basic science in school psychology research. In R. Floyd (Ed.) Publishing in school psychology and related fields: An insider’s guide. Routledge.s
  • Burns, M. K., Duesenberg-Marshall, M. D., Sussman-Dawson, K., Romero, M. E., Wilson, D., & Felten, M. (in press). Effects of targeting reading interventions: Testing a skill-by-treatment interaction in an applied setting. Preventing School Failure.
  • Burns, M. K., VanDerHeyden, A. M., Duesenberg-Marshall, M. D., Romero, M. E., Stevens, M. A., Izumi, J. T., & McCollom, E. M. (in press). Decision accuracy of commonly used dyslexia screeners among students who are potentially at-risk for reading difficulties. Learning Disability Quarterly.
  • Cox, S. K., Burns, M. K., Hughes, E. M., Wade, T., & Davis, M. (in press). Defining, measuring, and teaching mathematical flexibility: A content analysis of extant research. Elementary School Journal.
  • Maki, K. E., Ittner, A., Pulles, S., Burns, M. K., Helman, L., & McComas, J.J. (in press). Effects of an abbreviated class-wide reading intervention for students in third grade. Contemporary School Psychology.
  • Sims, W. A., Preast, J. L., King, K. R., & Burns, M. K. (in press). Are school-based problem-solving teams effective? A meta-analysis of student- and systems-level effects. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation.
  • Burns, M. K., Duke, N. K., & Cartwright, K. B. (2023). Evaluating components of the Active View of Reading as intervention targets: Implications for social justice. School Psychology, 38(1), 30-41.
  • Lee, K., McMorris, B. J., Chi, C. L., Looman, W. S., Burns, M. K., & Delaney, C. W. (2023). Using data-driven analytics and ecological systems theory to identify risk and protective factors for school absenteeism among secondary students. Journal of School Psychology, 98, 148-180.
  • Barrett, C. A., Burns, M. K., Maki, K. E., Clinkscales, A., Hajovsky, D. B., & Spear, S. E. (2022). Language used in school psychological evaluation reports as predictors of SLD identification within a response to intervention model. School Psychology, 37(2), 107–118.
  • Burns, M. K., Duesenberg-Marshall, M. D., McCollom, E., Mc Cree, N., & Abdelnaby, H. Z. (2022). Preteaching words to facilitate an instructional level in reading with a student with a specific learning disability in reading. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 27(1), 51-60.
  • Burns, M. K., Young, H., McCollom, E. M., Stevens, M. A., Izumi, J. (2022). Predicting intervention effects with preintervention measures of decoding: Evidence for a skill-by-treatment interaction with kindergarten and first-grade students. Learning Disability Quarterly, 45(4) 320-330.
  • Clemens, N. H. & Burns, M. K. (2022). Key contributions of school psychology to reading science. The Reading League Journal, 3(3), 4-10.
  • Eklund, K., Oyen, K., Burns, M. K., Demarchena, S. L., McCollom, E. (2022). Addressing chronic absenteeism in schools: A meta-analysis of evidence-based interventions. School Psychology Review, 51(1), 95-111.
  • Hajovsky, D. B., Maki, K. E., Barrett, C. A., Burns, M. K., & Chestnut, S. (2022). Specific learning disability identification in an RtI method: Do measures of cognitive ability matter? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 37(4), 280-293.
  • Sussman, K., Burns, M. K., & Lembke, E. S. (2022). Effects of ECHO MTSS teleconsultation model on self-efficacy of data-based individualization of academic interventions. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 32(4), 396-415.
  • Burns, M. K., Aguilar, L. N., Preast, J. L., & Taylor, C. N. (2021). Effect of acquisition rates on off-task behavior of kindergarten students learning sight words. Psychology in the Schools, 58 (1), 5-17.
  • Stevens, M. A. & Burns, M. K. (2021). Preteaching keywords to increase reading performance of students with intellectual disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 126 (3), 230-248.
  • VanDerHeyden, A. M., Broussard, C., & Burns, M. K. (2021). Classification agreement for gated screening in mathematics: Subskill mastery measurement and classwide intervention. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 46(4), 270-280.
  • Burns, M. K., Maki, K. E., Brann, K. L., McComas, J. J., & Helman, L. A. (2020). Comparison of reading growth among students with severe reading deficits who received intervention to typically achieving students and students receiving special education. Journal of Learning Disabilities 53(6)-444-453.
  • Maki, K. E., Barrett, C. A., Hajovsky, D. B., & Burns, M. K. (2020) An examination of the relationships between SLD identification and growth rate, achievement, cognitive ability, and student demographics. School Psychology, 35, 343-352.
  • Burns, M. K., Aguilar, L. N., Young, H., Preast, J. L., Taylor, C. N., & Walsh, A. D. (2019). Comparing the effects of incremental rehearsal and traditional drill on retention of mathematics facts and predicting the effects with memory. School Psychology, 34, 521-530.
  • Izumi, J., Burns, M. K., & Frisby, C. (2019). Differences in specific learning disability identification with the Woodcock Johnson IV. School Psychology, 34, 603-611.
  • Petersen-Brown, S., & Burns, M. K. (2019). Enhancing maintenance and generalization of sight words taught with incremental rehearsal: Applying the depth of processing and generalization frameworks. School Psychology, 34, 307-317.
  • Preast, J. L., & Burns, M. K. (2019). Effects of consultation on professional learning communities. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 29, 206-236.
  • Preast, J. L., Burns, M. K., Warmbold-Brann, K., Taylor, C. N., & Aguilar, L. N. (2019). Class-wide partner reading interventions for science comprehension. School Psychology Forum, 13, 29-40.
  • Burns, M. K., Haegele, K., Zaslofsky, A. F., Parker, D. C., & Maki, K. (2018). Relationship between acquisition rate for words and working memory, short-term memory, and reading skills: Aptitude-by-treatment or skill-by-treatment interaction? Assessment for Effective Intervention, 43, 182-192.
  • Burns, M. K., Maki, K. E., Helman, L., McComas, J., & Young, H. (2018). Contributions of the components of phonemic awareness to letter-sound knowledge of kindergarten students. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 34 (5) 409-418.
  • Cook, C. R., Kilgus, S. P., & Burns, M. K. (2018). Advancing the science of precision education to enhance student outcomes: Introduction to the special issue. Journal of School Psychology, 66, 4-10.
  • Hall, M. S., & Burns, M. K. (2018). Meta-analysis of targeted small-group reading interventions. Journal of School Psychology, 66, 54-66.
  • Maki, K. E., Burns, M. K., & Sullivan, A. (2018). School psychologists’ confidence in learning disability identification decisions. Learning Disability Quarterly, 41, 253-246.
  • Parker, D. C., Burns, M. K., McMaster, K. L., Al Otaiba, S., & Medhanie, A. (2018). Examining the relations between instructional level data and intervention response in early writing. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 43, 157-168.
  • Burns, M. K., Naughton, M. R., Preast, J. L., Wang, Z., Gordon, R. L., Robb, V., & Smith, M. L. (2018). Factors of professional learning community implementation and effect on student achievement. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 28, 394-412.
  • Taylor, C. N., Aguilar, L., Burns, M. K., Preast, J. L., & Warmbold-Brann, K. (2018). Reliability and relationship to retention of assessing an acquisition rate for sight words with kindergarten students. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 36, 798-807.
  • Van Norman, E. R., Maki, E. K., Burns, M. K., McComas, J. J., & Helman, L. (2018). Comparison of progress monitoring data from general outcome measures and specific subskill mastery measures for reading. Journal of School Psychology, 67, 179-189.
  • VanDerHeyden, A. M., & Burns, M. K. (2018). Improving decision making in school psychology: Making a difference in the lives of students, not just a prediction about their lives. School Psychology Review, 47, 385-395.
  • VanDerHeyden, A. M., Burns, M. K., & Bonifay, W. (2018). Is more screening better? The relationship between frequent screening, accurate decisions, and reading proficiency. School Psychology Review, 47, 62-82.
  • Burns, M. K., Frederick, A., Helman, L., Pulles, S. M., McComas, J. J., & Aguilar, L. (2017). Relationship between language proficiency and growth during reading interventions. Journal of Educational Research, 110, 581-588.
  • Szadokierski, I., Burns, M. K., & McComas, J. J. (2017). Predicting intervention effectiveness from reading accuracy and rate measures through the Instructional Hierarchy: Evidence for a skill-by-treatment interaction. School Psychology Review, 46, 190-200.
  • Warmbold-Brann, K., Burns, M. K., Preast, J. L., Taylor, C. N., & Aguilar, L. N. (2017). Meta-analysis of the effects of academic interventions and modifications on student behavior outcomes. School Psychology Quarterly, 32, 291-305.
  • Interviewed on Literacy Talks podcast, published by Reading Horizons, June 2023.
  • Interviewed for and quoted in A. Klein’s article, Measuring Reading Comprehension is Hard: Can AI and Adaptive Tools Help? In EducationWeek, March 15, 2023.
  • Interviewed for and appeared in Sold a Story podcast by Emily Hanford (episode 4) that was released in October of 2022.
  • Appeared in The Truth About Reading documentary film that was released in October of 2022, directed by Nick Nanton.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, November). Using the data that you already have to help students with dyslexia. Edview Podcast by Voyager Sopris Learning.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, September). How to build better small-group reading instruction. Webinar presented for Education Week.
  • Interviewed for and quoted in S. Sparks’s article, How to Build Better Small-Group Reading Instruction. In EducationWeek, September 16, 2022. Available online at
  • Whittaker, M. & Burns, M. K. (2019). NCLD white paper – Evaluation for specific learning disabilities: Allowable methods of identification & their implications. Washington, DC: National Center for Learning Disabilities.
  • VanDerHeyden, A. M., Burns, M. K., Brown, R., Shinn, M. R., Kukic, S., Gibbons, K., Batsche, G., & Tilly, W. D. (2016, January 6). RTI works (When it is implemented correctly). Education Week, 35 (15), 25.
  • Burns, M. K. (2023, May). MTSS Lessons Learned from 20 Years of Research and Experience. Keynote address to the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association MTSS Summit, Cranbury, NJ.
  • Burns, M. K. (2023, May). Screening and treating dyslexia in schools: Setting the foundation for success. Keynote address to the Illinois Council of Administrators of Special Education, virtual.
  • Burns, M. K. (2023, February). Together for tomorrow: Collaboration to meet unique learning needs. Keynote presentation at the annual convention of the Montana Council for Exceptional Children and Council of Administrators of Special Education, Billings, MT.
  • Burns, M. K. (2023, February). Skill-by-treatment interaction: Using data to answer the right questions. Documented session presented at the annual convention of the National Association of School Psychologists, Denver, CO.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, October). Dyslexia laws: Moving from mandate to practice. Session provided at the Dyslexia & Innovation Conference through Montana State University. Virtual.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, October). Assessment within an MTSS framework: Courses that address assessment and tier 3 problem solving. Invited session at the first Summit on the Science of Reading in Higher Education. Syracuse, NY.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, October). Phonemic awareness: Research, myths, and implications for school psychology. Invited session at the Missouri Association of School Psychologists Annual conference. St. Louis, MO.
  • Burns, M. K. (2022, March). Intensifying reading interventions with a skill-by-treatment interaction. Keynote presentation at the Annual Collaborative Conference (Missouri Association of School Psychologists, Missouri Council of Administrators of Special Education, and Thompson Center for Autism), Columbia, MO.
  • Burns, M. K. (2021, November). Screening and intervening for Dyslexia: Matching practice to the law and the research. Plenary session presented to the Arizona Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference. Phoenix, AZ.
  • Burns, M. K. (2021, November). Interventions with in MTSS: Can’t identify SLD without them. Keynote session presented to the West Virginia School Psychology Association Annual Conference. Virtual.
  • Burns, M. K. (2021, August). Are levels valid indicators of level? Invited presentation to the Reading Science Academy. Virtual.
  • Burns, M. K. (2021, April). Yeohaeng, Viaje, Lǚxíng, or Safari:Reflections on our Shared Journey. Closing keynote presentation to the Second Annual Multitiered Systems of Support International Schools Summit. Virtual.
  • Burns, M. K. (2020, December). Putting the I in RTI so that the R happens. Invited virtual plenary session to the Missouri Dyslexia Consultants.
  • Burns, M. K. (2020, January). Identifying SLD in an RTI world. Keynote presented to the Macomb County School Psychology Association Conference. Clinton Township, MI.
  • Burns, M. K. (2019, October). Making it “work for us”: Understanding the essential ingredients of multitiered systems of support. Keynote presentation at the inaugural Response to Intervention International Schools Summit. Singapore, Singapore.
  • Burns, M. K. (2019, October). Dyslexia screening and intervention law: How do we go from law to practice? Keynote presentation at the Montana Association of School Psychologists Annual Fall Conference. Butte, MT.
  • Burns, M. K. (2019, October). Reading interventions and school psychology. Invited address to the Arkansas State University School Psychology Program. Jonesboro, AK.
  • Burns, M. K. (2019, August). Flexing your MTSS muscles starts at the core. Keynote presentation at the Michigan’s Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative MTSS Summit. Mt. Pleasant, MI.
  • Burns, M. K. (2018, October). 15 years of RTI research and practice. Invited presentation to the Hawaii Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference. Wailea, Hawaii.
  • Burns, M. K. (2018, October). Dyslexia and school psychology. Keynote address to the Kansas City Region of the Missouri Association of School Psychologists Regional Meeting. Kansas City, MO.
  • Burns, M. K. (2018, May). Tier 2 interventions for reading: In the middle lies opportunity. Keynote address to the University of Missouri –St. Louis College of Education annual Strategies for Success in an Inclusive Classroom Conference. St. Louis, MO.