Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Sandra Duncan

Committee Member

Roslyn Doctorow


Respond to Intervention, tier 1 interventions, teaching strategies, evidence-based, referral process, special education, CSE


The problem to be addressed by this study was to determine why in a small rural public school, teachers were having difficulty with implementing mandated Response to Intervention evidence-based practices, including tier 1 teaching strategies for diverse learners. Prior to the 2020-21 school year, the studied district was identified as a target school for support and improvement, due to academic underachievement.

The participants were teachers working with students in kindergarten, first, second, or third grade within the past two years in a small rural school district located in northeastern part of the United States. The purpose of the study was to explore the teachers’ perceptions, attitudes, and skills about execution of Response to Intervention tier 1 teaching strategies for students in the primary grades in the targeted small rural school district and to assess the understanding of the referral process to special education (CSE).

Data was analyzed from interviews of a sample of primary grade level teachers using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) qualitative approach to data analysis, initially developed by Jonathan Smith (1996). The thoughts, feelings, and memories of the participants regarding implementation of Response to Intervention tier 1 teaching strategies and the special education referral process were investigated by using coding. The perceptions and essences of the experiences of the participants were examined with common themes that were developed (Creswell & Poth, 2018).

The intended audience of this study was primary grade level teachers and administrators in the targeted school district and small rural school districts looking for suggestions to improve implementation of Response to Intervention evidence-based practices and to decrease the number of students that are referred to special education in the target school district.

The findings from this study revealed that although the teachers expressed having confidence in their ability to implement evidence-based tier 1 interventions, most of them reported needing assistance with more tier 1 strategies and with determining how to target a whole class. They also discussed that it would be helpful to receive support from other teachers or professionals at their school with tier 1 interventions. Additionally, there was a varied comprehension among the participants of the process to refer students to CSE. The overall findings suggested that by providing teachers with increased resources, ideas for evidencebased teaching strategies, and consistent assistance, their overall understanding and implementation of tier 1 interventions will occur.

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