Principal Leadership: Implementing RtI in Urban HighSchools
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The reauthorized 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) allowed Response to Intervention (RTI) to be employed as an instructional method (IDEA, 2004). Although few researchers have examined the leadership efforts to implement RtI at the high school level (Windram, Bollman & Johnson, 2012), additional research is needed to identify the leadership practices to effectively introduce RtI. Therefore, this study identified campus level leadership practices applied during RtI implementation at the high school level. Three questions guided the study: What leadership practices do high school principals employ to implement RtI? What challenges do high school principals face during the implementation process and how they address them? To what extent do principals’ RtI implementation actions reflect the seven responsibilities outlined in the Balanced Leadership Framework related to implementation? A purposeful sampling method was used to select three high school principals and assistant principals who have been at the same school for a minimum of two consecutive years within the same urban district. In addition two teachers from each campus who shared the same criteria were invited to participate. Face-to-face interviews and document analysis were the primary data collection protocols. Findings suggest that high school principals in this context utilize data, establish accountability systems, engage stakeholders, set expectations and build teacher capacity in order to introduce and implement RtI. The study also found that high school principals encounter two challenges, namely, limited resources and resistance to change. However, they overcome these by requesting central office assistance, aligning materials for central office, hiring retired teachers, creating a school wide Intervention Team, requiring active teacher involvement in Intervention Team, using technology to access RtI information, inviting teachers to model RtI practices, enlisting influential teachers to champion efforts, placing teachers on growth plans and following district policy. Further, a comparative analysis of the identified leadership practices and the Balanced Leadership Framework (Waters & Cameron, 2007) suggests that the surfaced leadership practices mirror the responsibilities of the framework to some extent. This study provides insight and information for practicing high school leaders who attempt to engage in RtI implementation. Finally, given the scope of the present study, suggestions for further inquiry are offered.