Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Curriculum


George Theoharis



Subject Categories



Current literature exists centered on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework, its components, and ways in which MTSS is intended to support all students. Yet, there is a gap in the literature that examines how elementary schools are implementing it. This dissertation study sought to understand what the MTSS framework implementation at the elementary level looks like in practice. The theoretical framework used to help guide this study was Implementation Science. The research question used to guide this study was: How are elementary schools implementing the MTSS framework? There were three elementary buildings within the same school district in Central, N.Y. that were examined. The data collection for this study entailed interviews with each of the elementary principals, the dean of students, classroom teachers, special education teachers, reading specialists, literacy curriculum specialists, the district math coordinator, and teaching assistants. Additionally, data was collected through observations of intervention services and team meetings. Although there were some differences with the way in each building implemented the MTSS framework, there were many similarities across all three buildings. Moreover, each elementary building identified nearly forty percent of their total student population for reading intervention support and literature suggests that between 11-20% of the total population of students may need additional intervention support. Some of the staff in each building did not have a clear understanding of what the MTSS framework entails, how to use data to make informed decisions, how to progress monitor students in tiers 2 and 3, but believed that when a student continued to not make progress with the interventions they put in place it meant that special education testing may be needed. While the district directive was no new instruction should be taught while students were pulled out for their intervention support, many of teachers did teach new content and continued with core instruction. Some tier 2 students who were pulled out from core instruction to receive intervention services were given instruction by instructional teaching assistants who have not been provided any formal training on how to intervene with students who need additional academic support. A major implication from this research study is to implore educational policy makers, district leaders, and educators to closely examine their intervention systems in place and recognize that if more than 11-20% of their total student population is identified in need of intervention services, then the real issue is with their tier 1 instruction, not because of any deficits within the children.


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