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Amber Ray

Key Professional Appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Special Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Ph.D., Learning, Literacies, and Technologies with a specialization in Special Education, Arizona State University

Research & Service

Amber Ray’s research interests include writing and reading interventions and instruction to help students with disabilities and diverse learning needs succeed. Her research focuses on strategy and self-regulation approaches to instruction and methods of professional development for teachers and school leaders on effective writing and reading instruction. Dr. Ray works on developing evidence-based instruction to cultivate the learning all students, including those with disabilities, and has conducted research with elementary through high school students and adults.


Ray, A. B., Torres, C., & Cao, Y. (Accepted/In press). Improving Informative Writing in Inclusive and Linguistically-Diverse Elementary Classes through Self-Regulated Strategy Development. Exceptionality.  link >

Graham, S., Hsiang, T. P., Ray, A. B., Zheng, G., & Hebert, M. (2022). PREDICTING EFFICACY TO TEACH WRITING: The Role of Attitudes, Perceptions of Students’ Progress, and Epistemological Beliefs. Elementary School Journal, 123(1), 1-36.  link >

Graham, S., Harbaugh-Schattenkirk, A. G., Aitken, A., Harris, K. R., Ng, C., Ray, A., Wilson, J. M., & Wdowin, J. (2022). Writing motivation questionnaire: validation and application as a formative assessment. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 29(2), 238-261.  link >

Michael, E. L., Ray, A., & McKeown, D. (2022). Assessment for effective strategy instruction in writing. Preventing School Failure, 66(4), 327-332.  link >

Ortogero, S. P., Barcarse, T. O., & Ray, A. B. (2022). Developing the Knowledge and Mentoring Skills of Future Special Education Leaders. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 41(4), 211-226.  link >

Ray, A. B., Poch, A. L., & Datchuk, S. M. (Accepted/In press). Secondary Educators’ Writing Practices for Students with Disabilities: Examining Distance Learning and In-Person Instruction. Journal of Special Education Technology.  link >

Ortogero, S. P., & Ray, A. B. (2021). Overrepresentation of English Learners in Special Education Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Educational Media International, 58(2), 161-180.  link >

Ray, A. B., & Graham, S. (2021). A College Entrance Essay Exam Intervention for Students With High-Incidence Disabilities and Struggling Writers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 44(4), 275-287.  link >

Graham, S., Hebert, M., Fishman, E., Ray, A. B., & Rouse, A. G. (2020). Do Children Classified With Specific Language Impairment Have a Learning Disability in Writing? A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 53(4), 292-310.  link >

Ray, A. B. (2020). What does the Research Say about Research/Evidence-based Intensive Intervention Programming for Writing? In M. Dunn (Ed.), Writing Instruction and Intervention for Struggling Writers : Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (pp. 42-60). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Graham, S., Wijekumar, K., Harris, K. R., Lei, P. W., Fishman, E., Ray, A. B., & Houston, J. (2019). Writing skills, knowledge, motivation, and strategic behavior predict students’ persuasive writing performance in the context of robust writing instruction. Elementary School Journal, 119(3), 487-510.  link >

Harris, K. R., Ray, A., Graham, S., & Houston, J. (2019). Answering the challenge: SRSD instruction for close reading of text to write to persuade with 4th and 5th Grade students experiencing writing difficulties. Reading and Writing, 32(6), 1459-1482.  link >

Ornelles, C., Ray, A. B., & Wells, J. C. (2019). Designing Online Courses in Teacher Education to Enhance Adult Learner Engagement. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 31(3), 547-557.

Ray, A. B., Graham, S., & Liu, X. (2019). Effects of SRSD college entrance essay exam instruction for high school students with disabilities or at-risk for writing difficulties. Reading and Writing, 32(6), 1507-1529.  link >

Ray, A. B. (2019). Evidence-Based Learning Strategies: Preparing Students With High-Incidence Disabilities for College. Intervention in School and Clinic, 54(4), 204-211.  link >

Wijekumar, K., Graham, S., Harris, K. R., Lei, P. W., Barkel, A., Aitken, A., Ray, A., & Houston, J. (2019). The roles of writing knowledge, motivation, strategic behaviors, and skills in predicting elementary students’ persuasive writing from source material. Reading and Writing, 32(6), 1431-1457.  link >

Harris, K. R., Graham, S., Aitken, A. A., Barkel, A., Houston, J., & Ray, A. (2017). Teaching Spelling, Writing, and Reading for Writing: Powerful Evidence-Based Practices. Teaching Exceptional Children, 49(4), 262-272.  link >

Ray, A. B., Graham, S., Houston, J. D., & Harris, K. R. (2016). Teachers use of writing to support students’ learning in middle school: A national survey in the United States. Reading and Writing, 29(5), 1039-1068.  link >

Graham, S., Harris, K. R., & Chambers, A. B. (2015). Evidence-based practice and writing instruction. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of Writing Research (2 ed., pp. 211-226). (Handbook of writing research). Guilford Press.

Harris, K., Graham, S., Chambers, A., & Houston, J. (2014). Turning Broccoli Into Ice Cream Sundaes: Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Persuasive Writing Using Informational Text. In K. Ganske (Ed.), Write Now! Empowering Writers in Today's K–6 Classroom (pp. 87-111). International Reading Association.  link >


SPED 440: Instructional Strategies I (SPED 440) Course is designed to provide participants with information on effective instructional practices for working with students with disabilities. Participants are provided with information on generic strategies and principles of learning, instructional formats and strategies for informal assessment. Throughout this course emphasis is placed on methods and strategies for instructing individuals and groups of students. Important consideration is given to legal and ethical issues and an understanding of diverse needs in instructional design and delivery.

SPED 441: Instructional Strategies II (SPED 441) Course focuses the design of instruction based on diverse student characteristics, student performance data, curriculum goals, and the community context. Emphasis is placed on application of techniques and strategies to facilitate learning and on evaluating assessment information to modify methods, materials, or environments to enhance student success.