College of Education and Human Development

Department of Educational Psychology

Kirsten Newell

  • Pronouns: she, her, hers

  • Assistant professor

Kirsten Newell

Areas of interest

  • Academic assessment of dual-language learners
  • Biliteracy assessment and intervention
  • Educators' use of data within multi-tiered systems of support

PhD, University of Minnesota
MS & PsyS, Minnesota State University Moorhead
BA, University of Minnesota


Project AMPS: Advancing Multilingual Practices and Supports

Note to prospective students: I am currently accepting new graduate students.

I seek to define and remove barriers to the implementation of data-based decision making and tiered service delivery in relation to students’ academic skills. To that end, my research focuses on two identified barriers to implementation: a) a lack of validated academic assessment tools and decision-making processes for use with bilingual learners, and b) a lack of interpretation and use of academic assessment data.

Students with two or more languages are an increasing population in our schools. Correspondingly, educators need to be able to allocate resources equitably and efficiently for students who are dual-language learners. Curriculum-based measures (CBM) such as oral reading fluency (ORF) probes are a logical choice to address this need. However, there remains a need for validity evidence to support the use of CBM ORF or other assessments as screening tools with bilingual students, particularly validity evidence that incorporates language proficiency as a key variable. Easy access to valid assessments may help educators reframe bilingualism and diversity as student strengths, rather than weaknesses or risk factors.

Despite evidence that academic assessment data use can improve student outcomes, in my years of practice I rarely saw data graphed, analyzed, or used to inform instruction. Therefore, my second line of research seeks to understand and support educators’ competence and confidence in interpreting academic assessment data to inform instruction and intervention. I believe that action research partnerships in data based decision making can also provide a much-needed link between research and practice.


Newell, K.W. (2021). Realignment of school psychology research, training, and practice. School Psychology Review.

Harris, B., Vega, D., Peterson, L. & Newell, K.W. (2020). Critical issues in the training of bilingual school psychologists. Contemporary School Psychology, 25 (3), 273-287.

Newell, K.W., Kember, J. & **Zinn, G. (2020). Validation of German oral reading fluency passages with immersion language learners. Assessment for Effective Intervention.

Newell, K.W., Codding, R. S., Fortune, T. (2020). Oral reading fluency as a screening tool with English learners: a synthesis of validity evidence. Psychology in the Schools, 57 (8), 1208-1239.


Newell, K.W., & Farnsworth, E. (2022). Beyond BICS and CALP: Preparing our schools for bilingual learners. Paper presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference.

Newell, K.W., & *Choi, D. (2022). Curriculum-based measures of reading with bilingual learners: Adding vocabulary. Paper presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference.

*Fierro, L.A., *Kunde, M.L., Newell, K.W., & Preast, J.L. (2022). Teachers' knowledge about and attitudes towards data-based decision making. Poster presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference.

*Puig, L., *Choi, D., Maki, K.E., Zaslofskly, A.F., & Newell, K.W. (2022). A novel synthesis of single-case design reading intervention effects. Poster presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists' Annual Conference, Boston, MA.

*Hudson, A., *Han, B., *Choi, D., Koh, P.W., Newell, K.W., & Erbeli, F. (2021). Examining the influence of lexical and sub-lexical characteristics on early spelling abilities. Virtual paper presentation at the American Educational Research Association National Conference.

Newell, K.W., *Choi, D., & *Hudson, A. (2021). The use of Istation reading assessments with English language learners. Virtual poster presentation at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Conference.