What are Elementary General and Special Educators Reading and Response to Intervention Practices? A Survey of Teachers




Diamond, Christina

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The purpose of this mixed methods study was to better understand the instructional response to intervention (RTI) practices implemented by elementary level special and general educators responsible for teaching reading. Web-based survey research combined with follow-up interviews were used to gather information from a random sample of general education and special education teachers. This study provides a national picture of the most frequently implemented instructional practices in special and general education elementary reading (K-6), the source through which educators' acquired knowledge of the practices, and the overall level of confidence educators have in particular reading practices. In addition, this study examined the extent to which schools across the country are implementing a response to intervention (RTI) framework to address students' needs using a multi-tiered system of universal, supplemental, and intensive supports. Furthermore, information was gathered on whether schools are using RTI to guide decision making about the identification of students with specific learning disabilities. Data were analyzed to determine whether differences exist between the practices reported by general and special educators, and qualitative data were used to see if there was corroborating and elaborative evidence provided during more in-depth interviews. The major findings of this study revealed the following: (a) there were no statistical differences between teacher type in frequency of use of reading practices, the source of knowledge of reading practices, and the level of confidence teachers had in the effectiveness of the reading practices they were using; (b) there were significant differences between teacher type in how the instruction was delivered (i.e., group size, number of minutes of daily reading instruction, and intensity of instruction); (c) higher education (teacher preparation coursework and field-based training) and inservice professional development contributed to teacher knowledge more than other sources identified in the survey; (d) while RTI is being implemented in 75% of the schools sampled, there is wide variability in its purpose and use; and (e) interview data provided supporting evidence and illustrative examples for qualitative findings. Findings are discussed in terms of their overall applicability to special and general education reading instruction as well as implications for research and practice for both special and general educators.



Education, Special education, Reading instruction, Elementary, General educators, Reading instruction, Reading practices, Response to intervention, Special educators