Athena McAlenney, Ph.D.

Associate PROFESSOR OF Education

[email protected]edu

Athena Lentini McAlenney, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Education. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in reading methods and assessment. Dr. McAlenney earned a bachelor's degree in Government with a minor in Education from Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, a master's degree in Reading, Writing, and Literacy from University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia, PA, and a doctorate in Special Education from University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education in Storrs, CT.

Dr. McAlenney has experience teaching students with language-based learning disabilities in grades K-8. She has also worked as a Reading Specialist and has spent several years working with teachers to increase reading and writing achievement for students at risk for learning difficulties. Dr. McAlenney's research interests include assessment practices for effective intervention in reading and writing. She is particularly interested in the efficacy of curriculum-based assessments used within Response to Intervention (RTI) and has presented on the topic at several national conferences, including the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and American Educational Research Association (AERA). 

Dr. McAlenney won a St. Thomas Aquinas Faculty Development Grant in 2013, which funded collaborative work between School of Education graduate students and faculty members as they analyzed curriculum-based writing assessments across diverse student groups. Faculty and graduate students then presented their findings at the 2014 Council for Exceptional Children annual convention. 



EDSP 326 – Literacy: Reading Methods for Inclusive Classrooms
EDSP 350 – Issues and Strategies in Assessment


GED 2102 – Reading and Language Development
GESP 2603 – Assessment: Principles and Practice
GESP 5201 – Assessing Students with Mild Disabilities
GESP 5307/5317 – Instructional Strategies


Listed below are publications and selected presentations that represent her research interests and expertise.


  • McAlenney, A. L., & Coyne, M. D. (2015). Addressing false positives in kindergarten reading assessment using intervention response data. Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 38, 53- 65.
  • McAlenney, A. L., & McCabe, P. P. (2012). Introduction to the role of curriculum-based measurement in response to intervention. Reading Psychology, 33, 1-7.
  • McAlenney, A. L. & Coyne, M. D. (2011). Identifying at-risk students for early reading intervention: Challenges and possible solutions. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 27, 306 – 323.
  • Simmons, D. C., Coyne, M. D., Hagan-Burke, S., Kwok, O., Simmons, L., Johnson, C., Zou, Y., Taylor, A. B., McAlenney, A. L., Ruby, M. & Crevecoeur, Y. C. (2011). Effects of supplemental reading interventions in authentic contexts: A comparison of kindergarteners’ response. Exceptional Children, 77, 207 – 228.

Selected Presentations

  • McAlenney, A. L. & Gajria, M. (2016, April). CBM as a measure of writing growth for diverse elementary students. American Educational Research Association annual meeting. Washington, D.C.
  • McAlenney, A. L. & Gajria, M. (2015, November). Successful writing instruction and assessment for diverse learners in inclusive classrooms. New York State Council for Exceptional Children convention. Saratoga Springs, NY.
  • McAlenney, A. L. & Finnegan, E. (2014, April). Teaching writing and measuring writing progress for diverse learners. Council for Exceptional Children annual convention. Philadelphia, PA.
  • McAlenney, A. L. (2013, October.) Successful Tier 2 reading intervention: A special educator’s role. New York State Council for Exceptional Children convention. Melville, NY.
  • McAlenney, A. L., Bice, E., Howell, P., Varuzza, M., Guastello, E. F., & Doheney, K. (2011, April). CBM for writing with diverse student populations: Narrative vs. expository prompts and gender differences. American Educational Research Association. New Orleans, LA.
  • Simmons, D. and Texas A&M Team, Coyne, D. and University of Connecticut Team, Lentini, A., Little, M. and University of Central Florida Team. (2010, February). Assessing the impact of reading intervention in kindergarten classrooms: A between-contexts comparison. Pacific Coast Research Conference. Coronado, CA.
  • Lentini, A. (2009, April). Overidentification of risk in kindergarten reading assessment. Council for Exceptional Children annual convention. Seattle, WA.
  • Lentini, A. (2009, February). A Responsiveness-to-Intervention solution to the problem of false-positive risk classifications in kindergarten reading assessment. Pacific Coast Research Conference. Coronado, CA
  • Lentini, A. & Coyne, M. (2008, February). The Early Reading Intervention: Examination of curriculum efficacy, durability, and intensity.  Pacific Coast Research Conference.  Coronado, CA.