Conducting A Functional Behavioral Assessment
Today, educators at all grade levels face a growing number of student behaviors that challenge effective classroom instruction. Fortunately, most students respond to standard strategies for addressing potential behavior problems (e.g., classroom rules, verbal praise and reprimands, and loss of privileges). However, for some studentswith and without disabilitiesthese classroom management techniques do not produce the desired outcomes and may even worsen an already difficult situation. In recognition of the growing need to proactively address the problem, the 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (P.L. 105-17) include provisions that help schools address both the classroom learning and behavior problems of students with disabilities.
The requirement that schools address student behavior problems in their efforts to ensure that schools are safe and conducive to learning for all students signals a fundamental shift in emphasis in Federal legislation. Beginning with P.L. 94-142 (Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975), schools were required to ensure students with disabilities a "free, appropriate public education" in the "least restrictive environment." Now, schools also must ensure that students are able to be involved and progress in the general education curriculum, measure the educational progress of students with disabilities, and take preventive and proactive steps to address the relationship between student behavior and classroom learning. The 1997 Amendments are explicit about what is required of Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams when addressing behaviors of children with disabilities that interfere with their learning or the learning of others.
This is the second of three guides that address the 1997 Amendments to IDEA as they relate to the issue of functional behavioral assessment and positive behavioral interventions and supports. The first monograph, Addressing Student Problem Behavior: An IEP Teams Introduction to Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plans, provided a general overview of these requirements and is available through the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practices web site (cecp.air.org/) or by calling toll free 1-888-457-1551. This second monograph examines the rationale for and discusses the process of conducting a functional behavioral assessment and describes the ways schools and IEP teams can translate this new public policy into classroom practice by means of a step-by-step approach to functional behavioral assessment. This guide explains how IEP teams can decide how to collect various kinds of information and how to organize and analyze this information. A third monograph will discuss how to use the information gathered during the functional behavioral assessment process to develop and implement positive behavioral intervention plans that address both the short- and long-term needs of the student.
This monograph covers an integrated, six-step process that has been used by some for conducting that assessment (four additional steps cover the development of a behavior intervention plan, which will be discussed in the third document in this series). Blank forms and sample completed forms that might be used during the functional behavioral assessment process are included. In addition, this guide highlights the role that both professional collaboration and school-wide support can play in addressing student problem behavior. Finally, there is a list of sources for readers interested in obtaining more information on functional behavioral assessment.