Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Sheryl Gowen, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Deron Boyles, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Robert Michael, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Donna Breault, Ph.D.


The new IDEIA (2004) mandates regarding the implementation of Response-to-Intervention (RtI) present challenges for general education teachers. The law dictates the implementation of Response-to-Intervention, which requires the application of a pyramid of interventions for students failing to make adequate yearly progress in response to general education programs. Response-to-Intervention regulations redefine general education teacher roles, increase responsibilities regarding instructional interventions for at-risk learners, and change the process used to determine qualification for specific learning disability (SLD).

A qualitative case study investigates how three general educators in a rural public elementary school understand and implement Response-to-Intervention policy. The study also examines teacher descriptions of the influence policy implementation on instructional practices for at-risk students. Data collection methods include structured and unstructured interviews, videotaped classroom observations, Teacher Performance Record data, lesson plans, and relevant RtI artifacts to advance understanding of RtI implementation in relation to the particular research site and study participants. Focusing on a single site allowed the researcher to develop holistic descriptions of contextual situations to inform future RtI implementation, as well as improve professional development and instructional practices for students involved in the RtI process. Study results provide a framework for understanding how elementary school teachers negotiate RtI implementation in the general education setting. The findings report personal influences on implementation, environmental supports for implementation, and positive and negative consequences of implementation. The study concludes with recommendations for local education agencies (LEA), administrators, and professional learning, as well as suggestions for future research.