School Social Workers as Response to Intervention Change Champions


  • Deneca Winfrey Avant Illinois State University
  • Brenda Coble Lindsey University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign



Change agents, leaders, multi-tiered system of supports, response to intervention, school social workers


School social workers (SSWs) are known for serving students with social, emotional, and academic needs. Implementing Response to Intervention (RTI)/Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is one avenue in which SSWs play an integral role by guiding the development and implementation of student interventions. RTI/MTSS requires substantive and multifaceted system changes that involve more than simply adopting new approaches. This paradigm shift brings change which may not be desired or easily accepted by school systems. However, developing collaborative relationships and using effective leadership strategies throughout the RTI/MTSS transformation can be a pathway to success. A survey of 192 SSWs in Illinois revealed the challenges that SSWs experienced as the process of implementing RTI/MTSS transformed them into change leaders. This revelation was viewed as an opportunity to closely align social and emotional practices with students’ academic achievement.

Author Biographies

Deneca Winfrey Avant, Illinois State University

School of Social Work Assistant Professor

Brenda Coble Lindsey, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign

School of Social Work Clinical Associate Professor