David Baca


This study focused on a major urban district in Southern California that has recently begun one of the largest K-12 implementations of a multi-tiered framework for educational reform, known as Response to Intervention (RTI), in the entire nation. The purpose of this qualitative and phenomenological study was twofold: (a) to explore the RTI implementation experience of school-based leadership teams in 22 elementary, middle, and high schools in a major urban school district in southern California; and (b) to investigate experiences surrounding levels and fidelity of implementation in regards to 3 core components of RTI (multi-tiered system of service delivery, problem-solving process, and data-based decision making) at these same 22 schools. The researcher collected data by conducting small qualitative focus groups with teams from 22 different RTI Cohort 1 schools. Several key themes emerged in the qualitative data, including that RTI was an effective framework for instruction, the need for an understanding of the big picture of RTI, the need for a strong leadership team including administrative support, that support from the district was helpful, that implementing and revising RTI is a recursive process, as well as themes surrounding levels and fidelity of implementation of the 3 core components. Findings from this research study supported several conclusions about RTI implementation, including: full implementation takes 3-5 years; strong leadership is required; on-going, differentiated district support is beneficial; and RTI is an effective way to organize instructional efforts for struggling students. Study outcomes recommend the following for the district under study: maintain focus on RTI as the central reform effort and continue with implementation efforts until full implementation is achieved; continue to invest time, training, and resources towards building collaborative cultures at school sites; district policy and reference guides should provide an outline of structures, programs, and schedules that detail the logistical items related to the multi-tiered service delivery system; and the problem-solving process needs to be streamlined in order to increase use. Broader recommendations include that RTI shows promise as a school-wide initiative and, contingent upon further research, should be considered as a viable method of school reform for school districts.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Educational leadership, administration and policy; Educational change -- United States

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Purrington, Linda;