Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Diane Harwell


Nationally approximately 40 percent of third grade students do not read at grade level. Principals play a critical role in providing leadership in the implementation of Response to Intervention (RtI) to ensure that students not making adequate yearly progress receive targeted instruction to address their deficiencies. The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of five principals through an investigation of their understanding of the reading process as it relates to the implementation of RtI in their schools. I specifically wish to understand: What do principals know about early childhood literacy and how do they use that knowledge to support early childhood teachers? Sub questions relating to the central research question include: How do principals perceive their educational background and experience have prepared them to support early childhood teachers in making instructional reading decisions? How do principals perceive their role in the RtI problem solving process used to determine instructional strategies for early childhood students reading below grade level? How do principals structure their own learning of early literacy within the context of their school? How do teachers perceive the principal's support of the reading program? What do teachers have to say about the educational background and experience of their principal as those relate to the reading program and to the RtI process in their schools?

To address these questions, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five elementary school principals employed in a large, urban district in South Carolina. I used

a constructivist theory lens to identify patterns and themes. Additionally, this study seeks to understand how principals structure support for themselves based on their educational background and experience relating to the reading process of early childhood students. I address implications for principals, superintendents, RtI teams, and future research.

Keywords: Response to Intervention, reading process, principal leadership, professional learning communities, early childhood education, literacy


© 2013, Christine Elizabeth LeBlanc