Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Brent Duckor


The U.S. onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 brought immediate and unprecedented disruption to California secondary education. High school students in California have endured varying degrees of uncertainty, hardship, and trauma, with the full extent of impacts on students not yet known. California high school counselors, faced with the dilemma of how to support student needs effectively and equitably during COVID-19, have looked to the state as well as professional organizations for guidance on best support practices. Multi-tiered support frameworks, such as MTSS and MTMDSS have emerged as prominent pandemic response recommendations and are being implemented throughout California. The implementation and use of MTSS/MTMDSS by school counselors presupposes a belief in these systems. This explanatory sequential mixed methods study aimed to explore and measure California high school counselor beliefs about the importance of MTMDSS (Tier 1) Universal Supports since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected from 113 California high school counselors through the researcher-developed Universal Supports Importance Scale (USIS) survey instrument and from 6 follow-up semi-structured interviews. Findings suggested that the counselors studied had high levels of belief in the importance of MTMDSS Universal Supports; however, enhancements to the USIS are recommended to capture a more complete range of school counselor beliefs in future research. This study also sought to validate the USIS instrument, which displayed strong evidence for overall quality of items design and showed promise for future use.