Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Darlene Y. Bruner, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Bobbie J. Greenlee, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Renee A. Sedlack, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Constance V. Hines, Ph.D.


educational leadership, school management, school districts, problem solving response to intervention, school system change


The reauthorization of the Individual with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 strongly encourages the use of a response-to-intervention (RtI) model to reduce the number of students identified as learning disabled, to increase student achievement, and to close learning gaps between subgroups of students. RtI is based on the systematic assessment of students' responses to high-quality research-based instruction and interventions. The implementation of a research-based school-specific intervention model, such as RtI, may result in significant change for schools and districts.

The purpose of this study was to describe perceptions of the level of change the implementation of RtI represents in a school district and perceptions of school and district leadership practices used to implement RtI. The literature on organizational change and learning, the role of principals and district leaders in school reform, and the effect of leadership behaviors on the ability to influence change form the theoretical basis for this study.

This mixed-methods study is descriptive in nature. Data were gathered through the administration of a leadership-behavior assessment measure and focus-group interviews. The sample included seven elementary schools in a large school district in west-central Florida.

The results of this study suggest that the implementation of RtI is perceived as a second-order change by most stakeholders. The findings point to the need for principals and district leaders responsible for implementing RtI to employ leadership practices needed for second-order change, paying particular attention to practices that have been identified in the literature as having a negative association with second-order change.

It is recommended that districts consider the use of a collaborative process in order to develop nonnegotiable strategic and specific, measurable goals for the implementation of RtI. In addition, districts and schools responsible for implementing RtI should consider benchmarking their practices against practices identified in this study to identify the strategies needed to scale-up district-wide reform and promote sustainability.