Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Dr. Ronald Williamson, Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Ella Burton

Committee Member

Dr. Nora Martin

Committee Member

Dr. Jaclynn Tracy


Under the federal laws, No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) and Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA, 2004), school districts throughout the United States must provide struggling students with intervention strategies prior to diagnosis and placement into special-education programs (National Center on Educational Outcomes 2006). In 2004 Congress made many changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and from it Response to Intervention (RTI) became one of the most notable terms (Hale 2008). RTI is conceptualized as a multi-tiered service delivery model, which includes primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of support. The focus of the first tier is intervention at the level of the core curriculum. It is estimated that 80% to 85% of the general student body should be able to meet grade-level norms without assistance. The 15% to 20% of students who consistently show a discrepancy between their current level of performance and the expected level of performance are given Tier 2, or secondary supplementary instruction services (not to be confused with special education), targeting the students’ specific problems. Approximately 3- to-6% of students receiving intervention services at Tier 2 will continue to have difficulties and continue to show resistance to intervention. These students will receive Tier 3 intervention services, which some proponents of RTI state is not to be confused with special education; whereas others, such as the Council of Exceptional Children (CEC), state should be special education. The ultimate purpose of RTI is to reach as many struggling students as possible.

The child-study team, also referred to as Student-support Team (SST), is a component of the RTI process that occurs toward the end of Tier 1 intervention and permeates throughout Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions. Focusing on the identification of cognitive and/or behavioral abnormalities, the SST intervention strategy aims to prevent the misdiagnosis of students labeled as Special Needs and to minimize the over-representation of minority students into the special-education track.

With emphasis on the Response to Intervention (RTI) mandate, this study examined the practices of an SST, school-wide initiative model, designed to meet the needs of every struggling learner at one urban public-school academy. The Student Development Support Team Model (SDSTM) is a multi-faceted intervention program designed to serve students’ cognitive, psychomotor, and affective needs with the support of teachers, parents, and community stakeholders. With a multidisciplinary approach, this program aimed to use team efforts to improve student achievement and to reveal the successful practices of this academy’s RTI/SST processes that promote and enhance student achievement. The results of this study reveals some of the challenges educators face in the systematic implementation of the Response-To-Intervention Process. In addition, this study demonstrates the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach in the promotion of positive student achievement.