Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Committee Member

Dr. Jane Clark Lindle, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Hans W. Klar

Committee Member

Dr. Barbara Nesbitt

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Knoeppel


Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and Response to Intervention (RTI) provide two examples of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). Over several decades, MTSS developed as policy-based initiatives intended to increase equity, access, and quality of education. These initiatives integrate school and classroom practices for improving academic and social/behavioral development for all students. However, studies indicate continued implementation problems within each system across all levels of intervention. Such results signal concerns about implementation capacity for the intent of both MTSS policies' regarding educational access, equity and quality. Literature indicates that policy intent is converted at the micro, or school, level into models and practices. As school teams are charged with implementing RTI and PBIS, questions arise concerning how these teams make sense of the two initiatives. This study utilized a multiple case study method to examine the collective sensemaking of RTI and PBIS team members within two selected elementary schools. Both schools' faculty defined RTI and PBIS only through Tiers 1 and 2, likely as a result of district structures and resources. The two cases provide similar interpretations of multiple, disparate teams for addressing academic versus behavioral needs. Thus, each school implemented two separate teams. One school's RTI and PBIS teams employed frequent opportunities for distributed cognition and leadership through communities of practice, further supporting a continuum of student needs in Tiers 1 and 2. This school's teams supported a databased decision-making approach, but only one of the other school's teams espoused and demonstrated data literacy for making decisions.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.