Across the country, school personnel are working to better understand the exact conditions under which to implement the various provisions of the 1997 Amendments to the IDEA. Educators and others are looking for ways to transform a process of proven clinical success into quality practices that can be realistically and effectively applied in classroom situations. More and more IEP teams are developing intervention plans that are both effective and efficient in producing positive behavior changes for students with (and without) disabilities. Many times, these interventions flow from either an informal or formal functional assessment of the behavior. At the same time, school personnel are exploring ways to promote long-term classroom and building-level changes that increase the range of academic and behavioral supports for students. In some cases, this means changing both the structure and the culture of schools to accommodate a conceptual framework built upon positive student supports.
As we have discussed, the persons responsible for conducting the functional behavioral assessment may vary from district to district, team to team, and student to student. Some, but not all, behavioral assessment procedures may require persons with extensive prior training and experience. Regardless of who is responsible, we believe that schools should adopt a "best practices" approach to the process of functional behavioral assessment. That means school personnel should seek ways to address minor problems before they escalate and become major behavioral challenges. In contrast to simply attempting to suppress the problem behavior, positive behavioral intervention plans allow school personnel not only to eliminate inappropriate behaviors, but also to encourage appropriate, alternative behaviors so that the student can benefit the most from classroom instruction. School personnel can also address minor behavior problems before they become so persistent or severe that formal action is required. In taking this approach, schools can provide all students with the necessary academic and behavioral supports to be successful in school and beyond.