Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Exceptional Student Education

First Advisor's Name

Elizabeth Cramer

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Andy Pham

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Liana Gonzalez

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


cognitive psychology, educational psychology, language and literacy education, school psychology, special education and teaching

Date of Defense



Response to intervention (RTI) is a data driven framework that classifies students into three tiers and provides interventions at different levels of intensity (Flanagan, Ortiz, Alfonso, & Dynada, 2006; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Stecker, 2010, Gilbert et al., 2012). The screening assessments and interventions used for RTI have become generalized (Garcia, Gonzalez-Castro, Fernandez, & Rodriguez-Perez, 2012). Many schools implementing RTI use one screening instrument and one intervention for all struggling readers (Ezpeleta, Granero, Penelo, de la Osa, & Domenech, 2015; Flanagan et al., 2006; Garcia et al., 2012; Gilbert et al., 2012).

Executive functioning (EF) is a neuropsychological ability that regulates behaviors and cognitions to guide behaviors to accomplish a goal (Bledsoe, Semrud-Clikeman, & Pliszka, 2010; Coghill, Seth, & Matthews, 2014; Ezpleta et al., 2015; Goldstein et al., 2014; Zelazo, 2016). Inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and working memory are three core processes of EF that affect reading comprehension (Cartwright, 2016; Dahlin, 2011; Miyake et al., 2000). EF assessments and screeners provide valuable information for designing interventions, as most Tier 2 and Tier 3 RTI reading interventions focus primarily on the linguistic nature of tasks without taking into consideration other relevant domains like EF (Garcia-Fernandez et al., 2012; Goldstein et al., 2014).

For this study, the researcher collected data on the reading comprehension, language, and EF abilities for 87 elementary school students ages seven through ten. The data were categorized into RTI Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 depending on their reading comprehension results. Correlations, MANOVAS, and regressions were conducted to analyze the data and study the hypothesis that explored relationships and predictive abilities of EF on reading comprehension.

The results demonstrated correlations between the EF abilities and reading comprehension skills. Working memory demonstrated significant predictive capabilities for reading comprehension deficits (RCD). Language abilities demonstrated the strongest predictive ability for RCD. These results have implications for the literature on RTI diagnostic testing/screenings, RTI intervention development, and the implications of EF on RCD. These results support the use of EF rating scales as screening assessments for practitioners to implement when making decisions on RTI.





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