Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Tamara J. Williams


Ensuring all students learn at high levels is demanding. Multi-tier systems of supports (MTSS) has shown promise as a way to promote high levels of learning for all students while catching students who are struggling to learn. However, implementing MTSS models in school districts and schools has seen its challenges. The context of an individual school impacts efforts related to implementation especially related to implementing a system such as MTSS. During the 2016-2017 school year, using program theory-driven evaluation methods a program theory for MTSS was developed with input from members of the research school district. Then a questionnaire was used with twenty-five elementary schools to ascertain the level of implementation of the research school district’s identified MTSS model. Finally, the implementation level for each of the twenty-five elementary schools was compared to several outcome indicators. Findings from the questionnaire indicate an operationalizing or strong level of implementation of the research school district’s MTSS model in the majority of the twenty-five elementary schools. Further evidence of a strong implementation level of the research school district’s MTSS model was seen in a five year decrease of special education child count data for both all special education students and special education students verified with a specific learning disability. This is in contrast to State of Nebraska five year special education child count data which is increasing in both areas. Even though the research school district showed a strong level of implementation of its MTSS model in elementary school settings there was not a correlation between level of implementation and identified outcomes.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College of the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 2017 Terry P. Houlton.

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