Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Timothy Lafferty


Many students enter 9th grade as non-proficient readers who have not been successful on the state reading assessment. Response to Intervention (RTI) is a required program for teachers to use to increase students' reading proficiency. Guided by Bruner's constructivist theory and Vygotsky's theory of the zone of proximal development, this study examined the connection between these 2 theories and explored approaches to the creation of instructional delivery methods for reading to assist struggling readers. The research questions focused on teachers' perceptions about RTI implementation, training, and best practices. The participants were Grade 9 English teachers (n = 6) who were trained in RTI strategies and who taught reading to incoming at-risk students. A qualitative study design was used to capture the insights of the teachers through individual interviews, a modified version of Wilson's RTI survey, and observations. Emergent themes were identified from the data through open and axial coding, and findings were validated through triangulation and member checking. Key findings indicated that there was a general understanding of RTI; however, teachers identified a lack of training and experience with RTI. Recommendations included increased professional development in using effective RTI strategies, particularly differentiated teaching strategies and scaffolding. A school-wide recommendation was to incorporate RTI strategies in all subject area courses. A project of customized content was designed to guide English and content teachers to develop the awareness and capacity to develop improved RTI instructional strategies. Implications are that teachers will be empowered to become more deeply involved in professional development opportunities, which could influence instructional delivery to nonproficient readers.

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