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Title:Elementary principals' conceptions of response to intervention and socially just educational practices
Author(s):Owen, Donald
Director of Research:Shields, Carolyn M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hackmann, Donald G.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shields, Carolyn M.; Monda-Amaya, Lisa E.; Sloat, Linda
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Ed Organization and Leadership
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Response to Intervention
social justice
Abstract:With the reauthorization of IDEA in 2004, Response to Intervention (RtI) has become the latest educational reform that promises to transform schools. Through the lens of social justice, this phenomenological study explored if and how principals’ conceptions of RtI inform the use of socially just practices in their schools. By interviewing 10 elementary school principals in Illinois, the research explored the following research questions: (a) What are principals’ understandings of RtI? (b) What educational practices do principals believe promote social justice? and (c) How does RtI promote or inhibit socially just educational practices? This qualitative study informs the literature about how educational leaders view RtI as a federal policy and reform initiative, and if and how their understandings help them use RtI to create socially just practices. Respondents demonstrated a common understanding of the technical aspects of RtI. The technical aspects focused primarily on Tier II and Tier III interventions. Two principals in the study viewed RtI with a broader theoretical framework that focused on improving classroom instruction for all students. Principal participants demonstrated a wide range of understanding about equity and social justice. Principals described a variety of positive aspects of RtI, which included flexibility, the ability to intervene early, and the aspects of accountability for student learning. Possible obstacles to successful RtI implementation included the difficulties of change and the confusion about the purpose of RtI. Themes of inclusive structures, student achievement, democratic structures, advocacy, parent engagement, and school climate were all documented as aspects of socially just educational practices; however, each of these themes were not universally understood by all respondents. Recommendations include the need for state education agencies and school district leaders to promote issues of social justice and equity when implementing reforms. Educational leadership programs must prepare principals and superintendents to move beyond technical aspects of reforms in order to emphasize the theoretical foundations of the initiatives. This study points to the need for further research about grounding RtI and other reforms in social justice and equity. Educational leaders need to be able to support principals and teachers to apply notions of social justice and equity to their practice.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Donald Owen
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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