Before concluding, we would like to share possible obstacles to the development and use of effective behavioral intervention plans and supports. One or more of these obstacles may sometimes require the attention of school personnel to enable the implementation of a positive behavioral intervention plan and supports.

  1. Too vague a definition of the behavior(s) of concern.
  2. Incomplete measurement/data collection regarding the behavior(s) of concern and the interventions selected.
  3. Incorrect interpretation of the functional assessment data collected by the IEP team or others.
  4. Inappropriate intervention (e.g., too weak to deal with the complexity or magnitude of the behavior problem; not aligned with the assessment data).
  5. Inconsistent or incorrect application of one or more parts of the intervention plan.
  6. Failure to adequately monitor the implementation of the intervention plan or to adjust the intervention plan over time, as needed, based on on-going monitoring and evaluation, and to adequately evaluate the impact of the intervention plan.
  7. Inadequate system-wide support to avoid future episodes of the behavior problem (e.g., too many initiatives or competing building-level priorities that may interfere with the time and commitment it takes to develop and implement behavioral intervention plans).
  8. The behavior is an issue of tolerance rather than being something that distracts the student or others (e.g., a specific minor behavior, such as doodling).
  9. Teachers lack skills and support necessary to teach behavioral skills.
  10. Failure to consider environmental issues, cultural norms, or psychiatric issues/mental illness outside of the school/classroom environment that are impacting on the student’s behavior.

At a more basic level, IEP teams can be frustrated in attempts to conduct and interpret a functional behavioral assessment because of student absences due to illness, suspension, or expulsion; an inability to meet with key team members or parents; school holidays or school cancellation due to bad weather; and so on.

We encourage IEP teams and other school personnel to keep these factors in mind when grappling with the sometimes time-consuming and often complex problem-solving process of conducting a functional behavioral assessment and developing a positive behavioral intervention plan and supports. Finally, IEP Teams should keep in mind that differences in behavior may exist that relate to gender, ethnicity, language, or acculturation.

Throughout this series on functional behavioral assessment and positive behavior intervention plans, we have emphasized that IEP teams should develop multi-step programs that capitalize on existing skills and the idea that knowledge of the functions causing the original misbehavior can shape more appropriate, alternative behavior. In that way, emphasis is on building new skills rather than on simply eliminating student misbehavior. Again, it is important to understand that the problem behavior may have "worked" very well for the student for some time. For this reason, IEP team members must exercise patience in implementing behavioral intervention plans and supports.