Field Studies of RTI Effectiveness South Dakota Behavior Model

Study Citation


Pearce, L. R. (2009). Helping children with emotional difficulties: A response to intervention investigation. The Rural Educator, 30, 34–46.


Program Description


The South Dakota Behavior Model (SDBM) is a problem-solving model that includes group collaboration to promote successful student behavioral outcomes. Pearce (2009) identified three critical elements in the SDBM necessary to assist students with behavioral or emotional challenges:

1. Research-based Tier 1 behavioral interventions;
2. Multiple positive behavioral supports in Tiers 2 and 3;
3. Ongoing collaboration and support from school personnel and parents.

A school-based problem-solving team (PST) is responsible for implementing the model. The PST consists of the building-level principal, classroom teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, special education teacher and aides, and parents. The PST is responsible for determining a) movement between tiers, b) interventions and duration, c) progress evaluation, d) overall program evaluation, and e) special education referral.

Classroom teachers are in charge of Tier 1 interventions within the SDBM. Special education teachers and parents are involved in Tiers 2 and 3; however, no information on training of any of these individuals is included in the article.


Purpose of Study


Pearce (2009) conducted the study to evaluate the implementation of an RTI model in the treatment and identification of students in kindergarten through 5th grade who experienced significant emotional and behavioral problems. Specifically, a school-wide intervention was evaluated in Tier 1 and six separate interventions applied within Tier 2 and Tier 3. These included a) applied behavior analysis, b) social skills training, c) counseling, d) differentiated instruction, e) cognitive behavioral interventions, and f) increased parental involvement.


Study Method


Data were collected for nine students across two successive academic years. The data consisted of charts of the number of maladaptive episodes exhibited by individual students across the two years.


Study Results


Overall, the number of maladaptive episodes decreased over the two years for each of the nine students participating in the SDBM. In regard to the separate interventions at Tiers 2 and 3, Pearce reports that applied behavior analysis and increased parental involvement were most successful in decreasing maladaptive episodes, while social skills training and cognitive behavioral interventions had little or no effect. Furthermore, qualitative interviews revealed that school staff, families, and the students themselves enjoyed and accepted the interventions.

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