College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-17-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kathryn E. Grant, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher Keys, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, Ph.D.


Response to Intervention (Rtl) has been shown to be effective in improving student academic outcomes, and evaluations of the implementation process have been done in traditional. school settings. Research on Rtl implementation and effectiveness has excluded nontraditional school settings. Using a case study, mixed methods approach, this study fills this gap in the literature by evaluating the implementation process and effectiveness ofRtl at a therapeutic day school. Similar themes regarding the implementation process were found in this study as was found in traditional schools, such as implementation fidelity, importance of teacher training, challenges v.ith well­ defmed frameworks and practices, significance of establishing efficient problem­ solving teams, and creating strong leadership. Unique barriers and facilitators were found for this n01Hraditional school setting. Unique barriers included the challenges in addressing students' emotional and academic needs when organizing students into ability leveled tiers, creating therapeutic classroom environments for students, and accessing and using appropriate research-based curricula. Unique facilitators included helping students transition back to neighborhood schools, and ability leveled classrooms allowing students to feel more comfortable and teachers to use curricula to target common needs. While strong effects on student achievement and behavioral outcomes were not found, results did suggest that students are improving in reading comprehension as a result ofRtl implementation. Potential explanations for these findings are explored, including the impact of students' emotional and behavioral functioning on academic achievement, and the difficulties of adapting competing Rti structures to a therapeutic, nontraditional school environment.