Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Psychology & Higher Education

First Committee Member

Scott Loe

Second Committee Member

Paul Jones

Third Committee Member

Joe Crank

Fourth Committee Member

Jesse Brinson

Number of Pages



Specific learning disabilities currently account for the 39 percent of the 6.6 million students who receive special education services in a public school setting (Aud, Husser, Planty, Snyder, Bianco, Fox, et al, 2010). The current federal definition of what constitutes a specific learning disability states that school districts are allowed to use either the aptitude-achievement discrepancy model or alternative assessment methods, thereby legitimizing the use of response-to-intervention (RTI) (Dykeman, 2006).

The current study provided an investigation into the current training and practices of school psychologists and the barriers they face when implementing RTI within a school setting. The purpose of this study was to determine what assessment model (RTI, ability-achievement discrepancy, combination of models, or alternative models) that school psychologists use to assess for specific learning disabilities, how school psychologists spend their time as it relates to the assessment model, the barriers to implementing RTI, and how they viewed their training experiences.

Participants were 140 school psychologists selected at random from the Directory of Nationally Certified School Psychologists (NCSP). The majority of participants utilize an RTI standard protocol assessment model and serve two schools. Significant relationships were found between assessment model and sites that evaluate intervention responsiveness and progress monitor, as well as the amount of time school psychologists spent analyzing intervention data. Significant results were not found for assessment model and number of completed Specific Learning Disability cases. No significant results were found for assessment model and sites that administer universal screening or provide academic interventions, or monitor implementation fidelity in the areas of universal screening, implementing interventions, progress monitoring, or evaluating intervention responsiveness. Results also showed no significant differences in the time school psychologists spent participating in the different aspects of universal screening, or developing or implementing interventions. Results indicated no relationship between assessment model and the proportion of school psychologists who administer standardized tests of academic achievement or intelligence and curriculum based measures when completing initial evaluations for Specific Learning Disabilities.

In regards to quality differences in training modalities, significant differences were seen in the areas of identifying scientifically based interventions, determining adequate progress. Differences were not found for the different aspects of universal screening, as well as developing, providing, and changing interventions when needed, documenting intervention implementation, and administering and graphing progress monitoring probes.

Results indicated that the barriers to implementing RTI were identified as fidelity and integrity related to decision making, intervention monitoring and implementation, progress monitoring and consistency across teachers. Another area identified was buy in from teachers, administrators and parents. A lack of understanding regarding the concept and process of RTI, disabilities, and interventions, a lack of guidance and training, a lack of staff and time, workload, the cost of RTI and the lack of materials and research based interventions were other areas identified by school psychologists. Finally, problems with core instruction, problems with eligibility decisions and determinations, problems with assessment and measurement and the RTI model itself were listed as barriers to the implementation of RTI as an assessment model.


Learning disabled children – Education; Learning disabilities; Response to intervention; School psychology; Special education; Special education – Decision making; Specific learning disability Evaluations


Educational Psychology | Special Education and Teaching

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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