Date of Conferral







Marites Pinon


The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate differences among special education enrollments for specific learning disabilities (SLD) and other disabilities within districts using school-wide response to intervention (RTI). Differences between rural and suburban school districts during the phases of the insufficient criterion rollout for SLD identification were explored as were environmental factors' impact on RTI implementation. Systems theory framed how concerns in rural districts impact the ability to use RTI data for special education enrollment. The research questions examined prevalence rates of SLD and other disabilities, compared RTI implementation fidelity in rural and suburban districts, and explored environmental factors' impact on RTI fidelity. A repeated measures ANOVA, a series of ANOVAs, and a multiple regression analysis were used with archival data (274 cases) to examine the relationships between the variables. Results indicated rural schools are increasing identification of students with other disabilities and decreasing identification of students with SLDs. Compared with suburban schools, rural schools' SLD rates are not declining as quickly, while other disabilities increased to rates similar to that found in suburban settings. There were no significant differences between rural and suburban districts in RTI implementation fidelity; however, overall staff salary appears to impact RTI fidelity rates, especially in rural districts. Further research is needed to explore changes in special education enrollment practices and environmental factor's role in these changes. This study provides groundwork for positive social change by recognizing differences between school districts in identifying disability areas and obtaining necessary resources to implement new educational initiatives.