Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education and Literacy Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Whitten

Second Advisor

Dr. Luchara Wallace

Third Advisor

Dr. Jeanine Mattson-Gearhart


Response to Intervention (RTI), co-teaching, general education classrooms


When working together, Response to Intervention (RTI) and co-teaching can serve the needs of teachers and their students in a duet that Murawski and Hughes (2009) called “a logical combination for successful systematic change” (p. 267). According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of students with disabilities, ages 6–21, who spent most of the school day in general classrooms in regular schools increased from 33% in 1990 to 62% in 2014 (U.S. Department of Education, 2016). With twice as many students with disabilities attending general education classrooms today, it is essential that all stakeholders in the education field gain a deep understanding of teaching and learning in inclusive classrooms. Today, co-teaching allows two professional, certified teachers to work together, sharing the responsibility of delivering instruction for all students in general classrooms, including students with special needs, using flexible approaches to meet individuals’ needs (Friend, 2008). Response to Intervention (RTI) is a three-tiered identification and support system designed to meet the needs of all students by providing “quality differentiated instruction” (Villa & Thousand, 2011). Together, co-teaching and RTI can create an effective environment for students with different needs. In part, co-teaching serves as an ideal method for putting RTI into action. Often, research on co-teaching focuses on teacher roles and responsibilities. It tends to overlook the impacts on student educational achievement and social development, thus, creating a gap in the literature. This phenomenological qualitative study explores teachers’ use and perceptions of RTI on co-teaching in general classrooms and the benefits and barriers impacting co-teaching. It is informed by the increase of students with disabilities in general education classrooms, growing implementation of co-teaching practice, combined value of RTI and co-teaching, and lack of student-focused research on the subject.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access