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John William McKenna

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John William McKennaAssociate Professor of Moderate Disabilities

Research Interests

What Works Clearinghouse certified reviewer of single case intervention research; Research-based academic and behavioral interventions for students with and at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders; Responsible inclusion; Special education teacher training and support


  • Ph D: Special Education, The University of Texas at Austin
    Supporting Area: Students with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Faculty Teaching Excellence Award (2018), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell, College of Education
  • Faculty Research Consortium Faculty Excellence Award (2016), Scholarship/Research - St. John's University, Vincentian Institute for Social Action
  • Faculty Recognition Award: Excellence in Teaching (2015), Teaching - School of Education, St. John’s University
  • Co-Author of Must Read in Special Education for 2012 (2013), Scholarship/Research - Council for Learning Disabilities
  • Outstanding Service Award: Childcare Worker of the Year (1997), Teaching - Italian Home for Children

Selected Publications

  • Bettini, E., Cumming, M., Brunsting, N., McKenna, J., Schneider, C., Muller, R., Peyton, D. (2020). Administrators’ Roles: Providing Special Educators Opportunities to Learn and Enact Effective Reading Practices for Students with EBD. Beyond Behavior.
  • Garwood, J., McKenna, J., Ciullo, S. (2020). Early Reading Instruction with Embedded Behavioral Supports for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Beyond Behavior.
  • McKenna, J., Garwood, J., Werunga, R. (2020). Reading Instruction for Secondary Grade Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: A Focus on Comprehension. Beyond Behavior.
  • McKenna, J., Newton, X., Bergman , E. (2019). Inclusive instruction for students receiving special education services for Emotional Disturbance: A survey development study. Assessment for Effective Intervention .
  • McKenna, J., Garwood , J., Parenti, M. (2019). Inclusive instruction for students with emotional/behavioral disorders: Service in the absence of intervention research . Intervention in School and Clinic.
  • Garwood, J., Ciullo, S., Wissinger, D., McKenna, J. (2019). Civics for students with learning disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic
  • McKenna, J., Brigham, F., Parenti, M., Hott, B. (2019). Foundational assumptions for successful transition: Examining alternatively certified special educator perceptions. Emerald Publishing
  • Solis, M., McKenna, J. (2019). Intensive reading interventions and the challenges of comorbid reading and behavioral difficulties . Emerald Publishing
  • Brigham , F., McKenna, J., Brigham , M. (2019). Memories of the warmth: Transition for students with emotional and/or behavioral disorders (35:). Emerald Publishing Limited
  • McKenna, J., Brigham , F. (2019). More than de minimis: FAPE in the post Endrew F. era. Behavior Modification
  • McKenna, J., Adamson, R., Solis, M. (2019). Reading Instruction for Students with Emotional Disturbance: A Mixed Methods Investigation. Behavior Modification .
  • Ciullo, S., Collins, A., Wissinger, D., McKenna, J., Lo, Y., Josman, D. (2019). Students with Learning Disabilities in the Social Studies: A Meta-Analysis of Intervention Research. Exceptional Children .
  • McKenna, J., Brigham, F., Gilic, L. (2019). The Effects of a Function-Based Classwide Intervention on the Behavior of Students in Urban Self-Contained English Language Arts Classrooms. Journal of Vincentian Social Action.
  • Garwood , J., McKenna, J. (2019). Vocabulary interventions for students identified with emotional and behavioral disorders: Defining the need for more research. Education and Treatment of Children.
  • McKenna, J., Solis, M., Brigham , F., Adamson, R. (2019). The Responsible Inclusion of Students Receiving Special Education Services for Emotional Disturbance: Unraveling the Practice to Research Gap . Behavior Modification, 43(4) 587-611.
  • Ciullo, S., Ely, E., McKenna, J., Alves, K., Kennedy, M., (2019). Reading instruction for students with learning disabilities in grades four and five: An observation study. Learning Disability Quarterly , 42(2) 67-79.
  • Garwood , J., McKenna, J., Roberts , G., Ciullo, S., Shin, M. (2019). Social studies content knowledge interventions for students with emotional and behavioral disorders: A meta-analysis. Behavior Modification
  • McKenna, J., Shin, M., Solis, M., Mize, M., Pfannenstiel, K. (2019). Effects of Single-Case Reading Interventions for Students with and At-Risk of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders in Grades K-12: A Quantitative Synthesis (56:4 pp. 608-629). Psychology in the Schools
  • Brigham, F., McKenna, J., Lavin, C., Koc, M., Watkins, L., Brigham, M., (2019). The urgent and the always: Intervening on behavior problems in young children. Emerald Publishing Group
  • Adamson, R., McKenna, J., Mitchell, B., (2019). Creating a tiered continuum of behavior support at the classroom level to enhance school-wide multi-tiered systems of support. Preventing School Failure , 63(1) 62-67.
  • McKenna, J., Bettini, E. (2018). Improving reading fluency skills for secondary students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Beyond Behavior, 27(2) 74-81.
  • Brigham, F., McKenna, J., Lavin, C., Brigham, M., Zurawski, L., (2018). Promoting positive freedoms for secondary students with emotional and behavioral disorders: The role of instruction. Emerald Publishing Group
  • McKenna, J. (2018). Use of mixed methods to identify teacher and student needs: Reflections on a partnership with a residential and day school for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Sage Research Methods Cases.
  • McKenna, J., Kim, M., Shin, M., Pfannenstiel, K. (2017). An evaluation of single-case reading intervention study quality for students with and at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavior Modification , 41(6) 868-906.
  • Flower, A., McKenna, J., Haring, C.D. (2017). Behavior and classroom management: Are teacher preparation programs really preparing our teachers? Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 61(2) 163-169.
  • Mitchell, B.S., Adamson, R., McKenna, J. (2017). Curbing Our Enthusiasm: An Analysis of the Check-In/Check-Out Literature Using the Council for Exceptional Children’s Evidence-Based Practice Standards. Behavior Modification, 41(3) 343-367.
  • McKenna, J., Parenti, M. (2017). Fidelity assessment to improve teacher instruction and school decision-making . Journal of Applied School Psychology , 33(4) 331-346.
  • Kim, M., McKenna , J., Park, M. (2017). The use of computer-assisted instruction to improve the reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities . Remedial and Special Education , 38(4) 233-245.
  • Shin, M., Bryant, D.P., Bryant, B.R., McKenna, J., Hou, F., Ok, M.W. (2017). Virtual manipulatives: Tools for teaching fractions to students with learning disabilities . Intervention in School & Clinic, 52(3) 148 - 153.
  • McKenna, J., Flower, A., Falcomatta, T., Adamson, R. (2017). Function-based replacement behavior interventions for students with problem behavior . Behavioral Interventions , 32(4) 379-398.
  • Brigham, F.J., Ahn, S.Y., Stride, A.N., McKenna, J. (2016). FAPE-Accompli: Misapplication of the Principles of Inclusion and Students with EBD (pp. 31-47). Emerald Group Publishing Limited
  • Kang, E.Y., McKenna, J., Arden, S., Ciullo, S. (2016). Integrated Reading and Writing Interventions for Students with Learning Disabilities: A Review of the Literature. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 31(1) 22-33.
  • Shin, M., Lee, H., McKenna , J. (2016). Special education and general education preservice teachers’ co-teaching experiences: a comparative synthesis of qualitative research. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20(1) 91-107.
  • Sciuchetti, B., McKenna , J., Flower , A. (2016). Teacher knowledge and selection of evidence-based practices: A survey study . Journal of Vincentian Social Action , 1(2) 20-31.
  • McKenna , J., Ciullo, S. (2016). Typical reading instructional practices provided to students with emotional and behavioral disorders in a residential and day treatment setting: A mixed methods study. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 33(3-4) 225-246.
  • McKenna , J., Flower, A., Adamson, R. (2016). A Systematic Review of Function-Based Replacement Behavior Interventions for Students With and At Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Behavior Modification, 40(5) 678-712.
  • Flower, A., McKenna , J., Upreti, G. (2016). Validity and Reliability of GraphClick and DataThief III for Data Extraction. Behavior Modification, 40(3) 396-413.
  • McKenna , J., Flower, A., Kim, M.K., Ciullo, S., Haring, C. (2015). A Systematic Review of Function-Based Interventions for Students with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30(1) 15-28.
  • McKenna , J., Shin, M., Ciullo, S. (2015). Evaluating Reading and Mathematics Instruction for Students With Learning Disabilities: A Synthesis of Observation Research. Learning Disability Quarterly, 38(4) 195-207.
  • Roberts, G.J., Solis, M., Ciullo, S., McKenna , J., Vaughn, S. (2015). Reading interventions with behavioral and social skill outcomes: a synthesis of research. Behavior Modification, 39(1) 8-42.
  • Flower, A., McKenna , J., Haring, C., Pazey, B. (2015). School to life transition: Perceptions of youth in behavior intervention programs . Preventing School Failure , 59(4) 217-226.
  • McKenna , J., Muething, C., Flower, A., Bryant, D.P., Bryant, B. (2015). Use and relationships among effective practices in co-taught inclusive high school classrooms. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 19(1) 53-70.
  • Flower, A., McKenna , J., Bunuan, R.L., Muething, C.S., Vega, R. (2014). Effects of the Good Behavior Game on challenging behaviors in school settings. Review of Educational Research, 84(4) 546-571.
  • Flower, A., McKenna , J., Muething, C., Bryant, D., Bryant , B. (2014). Effects of the Good Behavior Game on classwide off-task behavior in a high school algebra resource room . Behavior Modification , 38(1) 45-68.
  • McKenna , J., Flower, A. (2014). Get Them Back on Track: Use of the Good Behavior Game to Improve Student Behavior. Beyond Behavior, 23(2) 20-26.
  • McKenna , J., Flower, A., Ciullo, S. (2014). Measuring fidelity to improve intervention effectiveness. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(1) 15-21.
  • McKenna , J. (2013). The Disproportionate Representation of African Americans in Programs for Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 57(4) 206-211.
  • Swanson, E., Solis, M., Ciullo, S., McKenna , J. (2012). Special education teachers’ perceptions and instructional practices in response to intervention implementation. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2) 115-126.

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Reading Instructional Practices Provided to Students With and At-Risk for Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (2017), Grant - University of Massachusetts Lowell Seed Grant
    McKenna, J.
  • Empowering Families from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds to Advocate for and Support their Children with Disabilities (2019), Grant - University of Massachusetts Lowell
    WERUNGA, R.N. (Principal), McKenna, J. (Consultant)
  • Improving the School Performance of Students with Disabilities at the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School (2020), Grant - Mary Bacigalupo Educational Endowment Award
    McKenna, J., Coleman, G.,
  • Improving Teacher Effectiveness in High Need/Low Resourced Schools. Sinatra Foundation Grant (2015), Grant - St. John’s University
    McKenna, J.
  • Reading and behavioral interventions for students with and at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders: Faculty Seed Grant. (2015), Grant - St. John’s University
    McKenna, J.
  • Long Graduate Fellowship (2012), Fellowship - The Long Foundation
    McKenna, J.
  • Graduate Student Recruitment Fellowship (2009), Fellowship - University of Texas at Austin
    McKenna, J.
  • Newton Schools Foundation Grant: Science at the Elementary Stabilization Program (2008), Grant -
    McKenna, J.
  • Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders Practitioner Grant: Social Skills Through Film and Drama (2007), Grant -
    McKenna, J.
  • Universal Design for Learning and Technology Based Interventions for Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: Cambridge Savings Bank (2007), Grant -
    McKenna, J.