High School Teachers’ Sense-Making of Response to Intervention: A Critical Practice Analysis

Benikia Kressler, Wendy Cavendish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Response to intervention (RtI) is touted as an equity-focused provision of special education policy that holds promise for reducing overrepresentation and providing academic opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. However, teachers working to implement RtI have encountered complex challenges that stifle equitable outcomes. Employing the zone of mediation (ZOM) as the critical practice analysis framework, this qualitative study examined six high school teachers’ sense-making and engagement within an RtI framework, with specific attention to their data-based decision making (DbDM) for CLD students. We used an inductive analysis approach and developed three themes: (a) limited understanding, training, and support; (b) top-down accountability pressures; and (c) deficit views on student performance. These findings situated within the ZOM framework underscore complexities that render the promise of equity for CLD students impotent within an RtI model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-458
Number of pages26
JournalEducation and Urban Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • critical practice analysis
  • data-based decision making
  • high school
  • response to intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Urban Studies


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