Date of Award





Doctor of Education


Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Paulina Kuforiji

Second Advisor

Bonita Williams

Third Advisor

Mary-Beth Hendricks


The adoption of the IDEA charged schools with the responsibility of identifying students who have disabilities and special needs and then providing them with appropriate educational services so that they progress academically. Schools have adopted, implemented, and revised a variety of screening processes to identify these students. The process of trying to help students who are experiencing difficulties is often referred to as RTI. The RTI framework is comprised of a multi-tiered educational system that outlines instructional practices based on student needs. Many schools have formed teams and devised policies to explore options for student assistance. This study involved designing and providing professional development to two school teams responsible for an RTI process for students who have been identified as being at-risk or in need of intervention for academic problems. The primary purpose of this study was to conduct an ex post facto analysis of data on the design, implementation, and effectiveness of a professional development model intended to support RTI teams of elementary educators in order to reduce the number of referrals for special education evaluation and placements. The study examined the files of 56 students enrolled in two schools. A school district designed tool to measure presence or absence of 10 components in a Student Support Team file was used for data collection. Data analysis included an ANOVA. Results indicated that an increased number of students’ SST files were complete and consistent after the professional development. Results lend support to the premise that aligning professional development to address real school issues would be an effective strategy to consider when challenging school issues arise.