Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Measurement and Research

Major Professor

Jose Castillo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Black, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Leia Cain, Ph.D.


school based leadership, system implementation


Contemporary educational legislation in the last 30 years has reflected the age of accountability in which positive student academic outcomes and yearly student progress are the main goals of the school system. In addition to accountability legislation, schools are mandated to implement multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to provide a continuum of services for all students. To implement MTSS and the necessary system changes, many schools are using distributed leadership models and practices such as leadership teams to maximize the human and material resources available. This study examined the conceptualization and enactment of distributed leadership in a school that is implementing MTSS. The study used a qualitative embedded single case study format with a leadership team in one elementary school. Interviews, observations, existing documents, and school data were used to explore distributed leadership in the participating school. Data gathered from these sources were analyzed using thematic analysis with a constant comparison technique. The findings yielded four major themes of conceptualization, which were collective responsibility, specific leading qualities, communication strategies, and student guided practice. Also, the findings yielded four major themes of enactment, which were a rich data culture, strength-based approaches, systemic coherence and empowerment of staff. The findings from the study can advance current distributed leadership literature on implementing MTSS, provide practitioners, school leadership and researchers a narrative for future facilitation of MTSS and raise additional questions regarding leadership team functioning, distributed leadership and MTSS implementation.