Educators have long understood that behavior difficulties can keep students from functioning productively in class. Many school personnel have been considering the effects of behavior on learning for some time. The 1997 Amendments to the IDEA take that consideration one step further: the relationship between behavior and learning must not only be considered but acted upon.
The requirements specified in the 1997 Amendments to the IDEA that pertain to functional behavioral assessments and positive behavioral intervention plans and supports as they relate to the responsibilities of the IEP team and to the IEP itself are the subject of this paper. This is the first in a series of working papers on developing and implementing functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans. It is intended to be used by school personnel who participate in a students IEP meetings. Future papers will be designed to convey more detailed information on functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral intervention plans and supports.
In order to give readers a cursory background in the topics addressed herein, the concept of a functional behavioral assessment to determine the underlying "functions" of a students problem behaviors is described, as are the process and guidelines for conducting a functional behavioral assessment. Next we offer a review of behavior intervention plans, including a description of how to develop, implement, and evaluate various interventions.
For readers who are unfamiliar with these procedures, there is a sampling of resources available for further study. We use both general and technical terminology to assist the reader in understanding techniques and to provide the vocabulary necessary to locate further information on the subject at hand.
This initial discussion is not intended to provide a complete course of training, but to offer an overview of some of the techniques involved. Further, we do not advocate one philosophical base over another. Rather, we promote a combination of techniques to address behavioral, cognitive, and affective functions of a students behavior and advocate the development of positive behavioral interventions and supports that tap each of these areas as well. The authors believe that the individuals charged with the responsibility of developing and conducting functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans should be afforded proper training in these techniques and provided the supports necessary to effectively carry out their duties.