The intersection of trauma-informedness and multi-tiered systems of support: administrators' understanding and implementations of the integrated framework of intervention
Meeting the needs of students in schools has been challenging for many years. Consequently, schools have responded with comprehensive intervention systems aimed at academic, behavioral, and social-emotional concerns. Concurrently, Felitti et al. (1998) produced the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study that has begun to cross-over into the educational realm. Most educators have a rudimentary understanding of Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) and an introductory comprehension of ACEs, trauma impacts, and subsequent responses. More concerning, however, is the minimal research indicating a comprehensive understanding of how trauma-informedness integrates into MTSS. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore administrators’ perception, understanding, and implementation of using a trauma-informed lens in educational decision making, specifically regarding MTSS implementation. Borrowing components of both grounded theory and phenomenology, constant comparison analysis was employed, resulting in five themes. Those themes were: 1) professional development is critical but varied; 2) integration of MTSS and trauma-informedness is important but very much a work in progress; 3) building level administrators critical role in providing structure, cultivating others, and exemplifying; 4) culture of understanding impacts decision making; and 5) varied level of understanding of MTSS and trauma-informedness. Findings suggest that although principals have awareness of MTSS, trauma-informedness, and an integration of both, there is still a great deal of uncertainty and inconsistency with the development of an integrative framework. Limitations, recommendations for future research, and implications are presented within this dissertation.