Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Major Professor

Howard Goldstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Committee Member

Gary Troia, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Committee Member

Jose Castillo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

R. Michael Barker, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Trina Spencer, Ph.D.


early childhood education, interprofessional practice, writing


Multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a framework that promotes school improvement through tiered deployment of research-based academic and behavioral practices. MTSS employs a systems approach whereby data-based problem solving integrates effective assessment and instruction designed to meet the academic, behavioral, and social emotional needs of all students. Many speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are interested in better understanding their role within MTSS and others have a desire to lead efforts at their school site or the district level, but are unsure of where to begin. This dissertation includes three papers that explore potential roles and responsibilities of SLPs within a multi-tiered framework.

The first paper describes the development and initial validation of the SLP Involvement in MTSS Questionnaire. A total of 567 SLPs completed this questionnaire and measurement quality was evaluated in terms of score validity and reliability. A three-factor model with the following dimensions: Carrying Out Roles and Responsibilities, Leading, and Planning and Providing Interventions was supported and internal consistency was high. Questionnaire responses indicated that SLPs infrequently engage in MTSS activities.

The second paper examines a writing intervention designed and applied by an SLP to provide targeted instruction for 10 first grade students who performed below expectations in the area of writing per classroom teacher and writing coach report. A multiple baseline design across three units of instruction: (1) paragraph structure; (2) sentence structure and handwriting; and (3) vocabulary and spelling allowed for the analysis of the effects of the intervention. Treatment effects were evident from the visual analysis and non-overlap statistics. Teacher ratings of student writing samples and social validity survey data provide further evidence that improvements in student writing were apparent.

The third paper explores the iterative development of the Early Elementary Writing Rubric, a comprehensive assessment designed to accurately assess writing and to inform early childhood educators’ plans for instruction. Participants who successfully completed all study activities included a variety of stakeholders working in the schools: 55 classroom teachers (25 kindergarten and 30 first grade), 1 site-based administrator, 5 coaches and resource teachers, and 634 students. The refinement of the rubric proceeded through five steps: focus groups, expert panel review, cognitive interviews, pretesting, and pilot testing. A one factor model fit the data for all writing genres; internal consistency reliability was high; and interrater reliability between the researcher and participants varied from poor to good. First grade students received higher scores than kindergartners on all 10 scoring elements.

This multi-manuscript dissertation exemplifies ways in which SLPs may capitalize on their skills through involvement in a variety of components of MTSS implementation. As interprofessional practice (IPP) continues to grow across the field of communication science and disorders, it is important to disseminate information regarding how SLPs can engage in IPP in educational settings. Involvement in MTSS provides SLPs with the opportunity for IPP as they join school-based leadership teams and collaborate with other professions seeking to spearhead systems change to maximize student achievement.