Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education and Literacy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Whitten

Second Advisor

Dr. Scott Koenigsknecht

Third Advisor

Dr. Luchara Wallace


Response to intervention, Special Education Administration


Response to Intervention (RTI) is a process by which schools identify students with disabilities using research-based interventions. As schools across the United States struggle to redefine district structures and processes required for RTI, special education administrators have become primarily responsible for implementation. Research describing special education administrators’ perceptions about the implementation of RTI is limited, however.

Framing RTI as an educational change initiative, this study uses survey methods to determine special education administrators’ 1) perceptions of leadership and change, 2) the extent to which they determine a structured plan to implement RTI as important, and 3) how frequently they encountered challenges during implementation. This study also seeks to determine if there is a relationship between these three variables.

Findings from this study develop in three themes. First, special education administrators acknowledge the importance of staff relationships, creating learning communities to support personnel development among staff, the urgency for staff to implement RTI, and that success of such initiatives is measured in small increments. Second, special education administrators indicate that district evaluation plans, data collection systems, and reviewing the performance level of all students at all tiers within RTI are essential components for effective implementation. Third, special education administrators identify a number of challenges, which include staff implementing RTI practices with fidelity, co-teaching in general education settings, and staff using policies and/or procedures to implement RTI. While there was no relationship between special education administrators’ perceptions of leadership, change, and the frequency in which they encountered challenges during implementation, special education administrators were more likely to indicate the importance of RTI implementation plans as they agreed with concepts related to leadership and change.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access