Response to Intervention (RTI): A Phenomenological Study of Elementary School Principals' Attitudes Toward A Complex Innovation
West, James M.
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Response to Intervention (RTI) models used to identify specific learning disabilities are rapidly emerging in the schools (Reynolds & Shaywitz, 2009). RTI implementation has altered the process of service delivery to both regular education and special education, which has re-conceptualized the roles of educational professionals (Ehren, Ehren & Proly, 2009). Consequently, the role of the education leader in implementing this new model of assessing students with disabilities is not clear. The primary purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the experiences and understandings that elementary principals encounter during the RTI implementation process. Data consisted of 5 in-depth interviews with elementary school principals in a Western state regarding their experiences implementing RTI. Data were collected from interviews and field notes, and addressed the guiding questions: 1) What are elementary principals' perceptions of Response to Intervention? 2) What are the principals' experiences with RTI as a method for identifying students as SLD and in what ways do the district level administrators provide support or use of RTI? 3) In what ways have the elementary principals found RTI implementation challenging and beneficial? These guiding questions led to this research question: What are elementary principals' understanding and experiences of implementing RTI within their schools? Within this study, the key findings identified were principals view the RTI approach positively, however, principals are implementing RTI with limited resources and support from the district which impacts the progress of RTI implementation within the schools. Textural themes are addressed and implications and applications of the research findings are discussed.