Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Katharine G. Shepherd



This cross-case study of building and district administrators was designed to describe and explain the experience of elementary school administrators implementing a Problem-Solving Team (PST), the core feature of a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) framework.

The Multi-Tiered System of Support Problem-Solving Team (MTSS-PST) organizes the review of student learning data to identify problems, apply solutions, and evaluate progress towards grade level learning outcomes (Cook, Burns, Browning-Wright, & Gresham, 2010; Eagle et al., 2015; Gamm et al., 2012; Tilly, 2008). Outside of the MTSS framework, the PST is recognized as a best practice approach to identifying and implementing academic and social emotional interventions to improve learning outcomes (Algozzine et al., 2014; Burns & Symington, 2002; Doll et al., 2005; Shinn, 2005). Contemporary policy implementation research frames MTSS-PST as complex educational policy whose implementation is contingent upon, and situated by, interactions between the people implementing it, the policy itself, and the place where implementation occurs (Honig, 2006). There is little research, however, on MTSS-PST implementation. This study was designed to add to scholarly understanding of the MTSS-PST implementation process by examining how and why school building-level administrators were thinking about and planning for it.

Analysis of the data revealed the following: (a) MTSS-PST implementation is understood by building-level administrators as an essential component in fulfilling the school district’s K-12 directive to reduce special education referrals with a Multi-Tiered System of Support framework; (b) Building-level administrative thinking and planning for MTSS-PST implementation is focused on reorganizing and improving how the school’s support team sorts students for support services; (c) Building administrator’s implementation decision-making is influenced by the simultaneous feeling of relief and burden brought on by the early success of implementation and the significant challenges it faces due to limited planning and resources.

Analysis also showed that implementation is rooted in a transactional approach to change focused entirely on meeting districtwide objectives to increase the efficiency and efficacy of the school’s teaching and learning services with no reference to the transformative potential cited in the research literature. Lastly, analysis of the findings revealed that more than 70 different interactions that occurred between people, policy, and place shaped the MTSS-PST implementation process demonstrating that implementation of this policy is both situated and contextual.



Number of Pages

161 p.