Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

William Flora

Committee Members

Pamela Mims, Pamela Scott, Stephanie Tweed


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine teacher perceptions of the effectiveness of the Response to Intervention (RtI) framework with students who are acquiring English as a second language.

Students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have been disproportionately represented in special education programs for decades (Artiles & Trent, 1994; Donovan & Cross, 2002; Heller, Holtzman, & Messick, 1982). Legislators responsible for the authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act in 2004 (IDEIA 2004) allowed state education leaders the option to use RtI as an alternative identification method. RtI was believed to be a framework through which the number of inappropriate EL referrals for special education services could be reduced. Ten elementary teachers in a small/medium sized rural school district in East Tennessee participated in semi-structured interviews intended to examine their perceptions of the effectiveness of the RtI framework when implemented with ELs. The researcher analyzed the responses for emergent themes. These themes included knowledge about the purpose of the framework, the impact of leadership upon implementation of the framework, training and professional development around teaching ELs and responding to their unique needs, and understanding differences between challenges arising from language acquisition versus those arising from a learning disability. Findings and recommendations for practice are included.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.