Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Sherryl A. Houdek


According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2015) only 34% of eighth grade students in the U.S. scored at or above proficient in reading and only 33% were at or above proficient in math. Reading comprehension is essential for the acquisition of knowledge in all coursework and those students who have reading deficits may experience increased academic failure. Deficits in math skills may also increase core academic failure for secondary students expected to complete rigorous courses in algebra and beyond. In a review of the literature, Blount (2012) deduced that academic failure is one of the main predictive risk factors in secondary students for dropping out of school, which can have long term social, emotional, and financial ramifications. The importance of reading and math achievement is not under debate; however, the research in the literature regarding systematic academic intervention for secondary students is sparse (Bemboom & McMaster, 2013).

This quantitative study used Fullan’s (2007) change theory as a framework to examine teachers’ perceptions of implementing a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) standard protocol to meet the diverse reading and math intervention needs of middle and high school students. A survey was administered to attain perception data of middle and high school teachers (N = 129) in two Class A school districts in North Dakota. The research questions focused specifically on Fullan’s (2007) four factors of implementing change as dependent variables – need, clarity, complexity, and quality/practicality.

Results of the study showed that all teachers surveyed report some form of agreement regarding need (M = 4.06), clarity (M = 3.87), complexity (M = 3.35), and quality/practicality (M = 3.73). A one-way within subjects ANOVA was conducted and there was a significant difference in the perceptions of teachers between the four characteristics of change, F(3,384) = 64.13, p < .05. The results of the paired samples t-tests show that need was significantly higher than clarity, complexity, and quality/practicality. All four characteristics of change were found to contribute significantly at the coefficient level to the multiple regression model predicting perceived success (R2 = .665, F(4, 124) = 61.41, p < .001), with need having the strongest correlation with success (r(128) = .72, p < .001). The results of one-way MANOVA tests did not show significant differences regarding the four characteristics of change between special education teachers and general education teachers (F (4, 123) = 1.24, p = .297; Wilks’ Λ = .961, partial η2 = .04) or between middle school teachers and high school teachers (F (4, 123) = .680, p = .607; Wilks’ Λ = .978, partial η2 = .02).

Results demonstrate the applicability of Fullan’s change theory in examining implementation of a multi-tiered system of support standard protocol within secondary schools. Since a high predictor of perceived success of MTSS implementation is need, an implication of the study is to guide school leadership to establish the need for students as well as show how MTSS can meet the needs of the staff prior to implementation.