Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Teaching and Learning (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Jeanne Shay Schumm

Second Committee Member

Elizabeth G. Harry

Third Committee Member

Wendy M. Cavendish

Fourth Committee Member

Terrance Vaccaro


The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 set in motion the movement away from the typical Referral/IQ Discrepancy Model of Exceptional Student Education identification toward the Response to Intervention (RtI) model for the identification of students with reading-related learning disabilities. This investigation explored practitioners’ views of the five components of RtI: (1) a multi-tier implementation, (2) student assessment and decision making, (3) evidence-based interventions, (4) maintenance of procedural integrity, and (5) systems level capacity. Barriers and facilitators to implementation were addressed as well as resources needed for successful implementation. The research was conducted in three university-affiliated professional development schools (elementary) that serve large numbers of preservice teachers in their field experience and during their associate teaching semester. At each school, separate focus group interviews were conducted with RtI leadership teams (LT) (n=13) and with teachers NOT on the leadership team (NLT) (n=15) to investigate perceptions of RtI and their recommendations for preparing preservice teachers to implement RtI. Focus group interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. The Glazer and Strauss constant comparative method of analysis was used to code and categorize the data and to summarize the results (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). While the majority of participants in both groups recognized that RtI holds potential for providing optimal instruction for all students, their concerns about its implementation dominated the conversation. A range of concerns were voiced in respect to logistics of assessment, effectiveness of intervention curricula, and their own professional preparation to implement RtI. In respect to preservice teacher education, practitioners strongly recommended more preparation in differentiated instruction and assessment as well as more intensive school-based experiences. Implications for practice, future research, and preservice teacher education are presented in the discussion.


RtI; Teacher Perceptions; Pre-service teachers