Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Ellen Scales

Abstract

Response to intervention (RTI) is a federal program created to improve student learning and reduce the number of students misidentified as needing special education services. Differing interpretations of how best to implement RTI between campuses and districts have resulted in teachers' confusion and misperceptions of the program. The purpose of this study was to understand how elementary classroom teachers' perceptions of RTI affect classroom instruction. Based on Gagne's instructional theory and Bruner's theory of constructivism, the study examined the perceptions of 10 classroom teachers in 2 low socio-economic elementary schools. The study examined how RTI forms and protocols, administrative leadership, and professional development impacted participants' perceptions of RTI and their classroom instructional practices. Data collected from group and individual interviews were transcribed and coded using open and axial coding to create categories. Participants' progress monitoring logs and the researcher's field notes corroborated interview results. Findings showed that teachers' limited knowledge of RTI resulted in frustration or indifference and that erudite administrative leadership and professional development are needed to improve classroom implementation. A district-wide, digital professional development plan based on the study's findings was recommended to improve educators' and administrators' understandings of the RTI program. Results add to the limited body of qualitative research exploring teachers' perceptions of RTI. Implications could improve teachers' and administrators' understandings and perceptions, foster collaboration leading to social change, and ultimately improve student learning.