Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Janette Klingner

Second Advisor

Leonard Baca

Third Advisor

Kathy Escamilla


This present study investigated the RTI decision-making process for ELLs at three elementary schools using cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) as a framework. The schools were selected for their reputation in implementing effective RTI models for ELLs. Over the course of four months I conducted observations of RTI meetings and grade level meetings, interviewed the professionals involved in decision-making, and analyzed the documents utilized in the RTI process to better understand decision making for ELLs. Overall, the study found that these schools were still transitioning away from a deficit paradigm, implying a need for more comprehensive professional development around RTI.

The schools were using data from multiple sources to inform decisions, they were considering the quality of tier one for ELLs, and they were taking a more ecological approach to decision making for ELLs. Schools struggled to make decisions based on rate of progress for ELLs. The roles of professionals were expanding to meet the needs of ELLs, however they still relied on the ELL teacher to make decisions. The principal was integral in the RTI decision-making process. Only one school implemented shared decision making, and parent involvement in decisions varied by school. Benefits for ELLs included receiving more timely and more individualized interventions.