Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Roger Nasser

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom


Existing research on the implementation of RTI and growth mindset practices at the secondary level was sparse, despite the literature on the challenges facing the middle school structure and best practices for adolescent learners. This quantitative study added to the body of research by examining components of each effort in an urban school district. The researcher compared the academic growth of middle school students who received Tier 3 instructional support in reading or math to the academic growth of students who did not receive Tier 3 support. The data revealed no significant difference between the growth of the two groups. As a result, the researcher recommended a deep and bold examination of the existing practices and structures of the RTI program in the researched school district to ensure the identification of students, resources used, and processes for adjusting support was appropriate for adolescent learners and the middle school setting. The study included a look at academic growth across the middle grades, but the data showed no difference. The researcher discussed the implications of adolescent growth patterns on learning as connected with the data. In regard to fostering growth mindsets, middle school ELA and math teacher survey results showed awareness of the benefits of fostering a growth mindset in the classroom but limitations to existing teacher knowledge and skills. The researcher recommended supporting teachers in delivering feedback to students focused on effort over ability, a strategy shown to increase student learning.


Copyright 2022, Stephanie M. Opela.

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