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Functional Behavior Assessment/ Behavior Intervention Plan (FBA/BIP)


Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA):

A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is used to determine the motivation of a student who engages in misconduct.

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP):

A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is used to enable the student to learn a replacement behavior more appropriate to obtain what the student needs.

When to Conduct a FBA & BIP

  • When any student engages in problem behavior, and the teacher and school have procedures and expectations in place for all students and have taught those procedures and expectations to mastery, and individual plan to help that student learn a different behavior to meet the student’s needs may be warranted.
  • For students with disabilities, it is required under IDEA that when the student’s behavior disrupts the learning of themselves or others, the team should consider as appropriate, positive behavior supports and other strategies, which may a FBA and BIP.
  • When a student with a disability is removed for more than 10 days in a school year, a FBA and BIP must be conducted, or a current BIP reviewed and revised as needed.
  • Best practice suggests that this assessment be conducted whenever a serious or chronic problem behavior arises, whether or not it becomes a discipline issue.

Why use a FBA & BIP?

  • Intervention plans and strategies that emphasize skills students need in order to behave in a more appropriate way or provide motivation to conform to required standards will be more effective than plans that simply serve control behavior.

Note: FBAs and BIPS should be developed together, as separate parts of the same process.

Who is Part of the Team?

The TEAM is all member of the student’s IEP TEAM

  • Student
  • Parent
  • General Ed Teacher
  • Special Ed Teacher
  • LEA
  • School Psych
  • Other Service Provider: SLP, Counselor, OT, PT
  • Could include: Behavior and Teacher Specialist

Specific Examples of each of the areas evaluated in BIPs

Problem Behavior
Problem Behavior: Defiance: Billy ignores teacher requests to independently complete a written assignment and continues self-selected activity” (this includes observable/measurable examples) Defiance sequence: Billy continues with a self-selected activity, ignoring teacher requests to complete an assignment; when prompted, he shrugs his shoulders and does not comply, if prompted again, he swears and continues with his activity. (This sequence is in observable/measurable terms). 

Key Concepts: Define the problem behavior clearly so you can measure progress. If you use general behavioral category terms such as “defiance”, give examples of what the student actually does so everyone understands what the problem looks like when it occurs. If you are addressing more than one behavior, number each behavior to correlate with matched functions, matched interventions and reactive strategies later in the plan. It can be difficult to address more than two behaviors per each BIP form because the plan will become confusing and difficult to implement. However, if the behaviors form an escalation pattern that occurs in sequence (e.g., student swears under his/her breath, then rocks in chair, then tears paper, then pushes over the chair) they can be readily addressed in the plan.
Function: Billy is avoiding independent paper- pencil assignments and protests termination of self-selected activity with profanity because he states he prefers working with a partner on requested activity,” when compared to predictors of avoidance: “Whenever Billy is requested to do work without peer support, occurring after recess, when he is by himself, when there is a substitute teacher, or for any seatwork that is longer than 10 minutes. This demonstrates a logical relationship between function and predictor(s). 

Key Concepts: Analyzing the function of the behavior requires examining what is happening right before, during and after the behavior. Look at the student’s affect and his/her verbal and non-verbal responses in addition to staff and peer responses. This is a critical step in identifying potential predictors and developing a hypothesis about the function of the behavior. 

Contaminators: revenge, vengeance, power and control are not functions that can be used to develop a functionally equivalent replacement behavior (FERB) for conditional use in a plan, e.g., how to get vengeance in a better way would not have social validity. The function should be observable, and not a construct on internal feelings of the student. Consider alternatives: (a) instead of vengeance: function= protest past action of a peer; (b) instead of control: function= gain choice of activities and pacing of activities; (c) instead of power: function= gain sustained peer attention, etc.
Teaching Strategies:
Teaching Strategies: Teacher will instruct, provide practice sessions, and cue Billy to request peer buddy assignment assistance using the attached request language and the speech/ language teacher will practice these requesting skills in small group.” This includes some detail about requesting a peer buddy as an acceptable protest of the requirement to work independently. No other FERBs are present to evaluate and no cathartic strategy for aggression is described.

Key Concepts: A plan to teach or prompt the FERB must be carefully thought out, with materials or strategies given with enough detail so that all team members will remember what they have decided to do.
 It is acceptable to minimally mention the teaching strategy and then refer the reader to an attached skill teaching sequence or to a specific curriculum available for plan implementers. 

Contaminators: Cathartic strategies for aggression have been extensively researched and are shown to foster or promote further aggression and therefore contaminate the plan.
Reinforcement: Specific and contingent: “Billy will earn time on the new computer game for work completion and requesting peer buddy when needed.” (both general positive and FERB are addressed.)
1) Effectiveness (Power): Selection of reinforcer based on: “Billy requests access to the computer to play games and expresses interest in this specific new game.” “Billy also requests positive communication with parents and permission to sit next to certain peers.”
2) Frequency: “Billy will earn computer time at the end of each day” or “Billy will receive a computer ticket for completing 10 minutes of seatwork. Each ticket earns one minute of computer time.”

3) Immediacy: “Immediately after each episode of peer buddy requesting, Billy will be given a token or a bonus point on his tally sheet.”

 4) Choice within Variety: Billy can select from the following reinforcers: a positive note home or permission to sit near a friend or computer time.”

Key Concepts: Students will not likely change or maintain new behaviors without reinforcement. Determine if a true “reinforcer” has been selected, rather than a “reward.” For a reinforcer there is evidence of the student seeking this event or tangible. Providing something we think the student will want without evidence is a “reward.” How do you know the student seeks or will seek this reinforcer?


·Can the student wait for this reinforcer, even if it is known to be a highly powerful one? Can less powerful reinforcers be delivered more frequently or can increasing variety maintain effort?

·Does the student grasp the connection between the reinforcer and the behavior? If in doubt, increase immediacy and specify the conditions for earning the reinforcer (contingency) to the student more clearly.

·If you are using a token system,  does the student understand the token symbolizes progress toward earning the reinforcer? If in doubt teach the association systemically.

·If s/he does not grasp the connection, a token system will not be effective. Is the student getting tokens as frequently as needed to maintain effort? If not, increase frequency and/or immediacy of token delivery.

· Who delivers the reinforcer can be important. From whom does the student most want to receive the reinforcer? Choose adult (teacher, principal, parent, counselor, etc.), or peer(s) 
Reactive Strategies:
Reactive Strategies: Managing the problem safely
 “During Billy’s problem behavior episode (task refusal and profanity) the teacher will sit very close to him, present two choices of which work folder to complete with a peer, using a non-emotional tone, waiting for swearing to end and Billy to choose a task.” 


Other components for that problem behavior are described (2 or more required):

 1. a) Prompting FERB:

“Teacher will non-verbally cue Billy to switch to the FERB, a peer assistance request, using the five hand signals of “stop,” “think,” “you can make a good choice,” “you can make a bad choice” “what will you do?” as taught to the student and practiced previously and followed by hand signals “pat yourself on the back” if student signals “good choice” and switches behavior. OR

1. b) Prompting to Redirect, e.g., severe disability example: “If Mary begins to rock, (a weak protest, typically occurring prior to screaming and running, show her the “what I’m working for card”, then redirect her gesturally to finish only the immediate task before terminating instructional session and providing desired activity.”

 2. Debriefing method(s):
“Teacher and Billy will analyze the problem behavior occurrence using the attached ‘My Inappropriate Behavior Worksheet. Process will occur after student is observed to be calm and ready to talk.”

 3. Consequences or Punishment:
“Billy will not receive tokens for the period due to lack of completing the task which would have earned approximately 5 toward the computer game.” or, “If Billy engages in dangerous behavior, such as pushing, hitting or throwing furniture during the protest, he will be referred for immediate school disciplinary response.”

Key Concepts: Well-designed reactive strategies consider the progression phases in specifying how to respond to a problem behavior.

1. Prompting - Can continuation of escalation of problem be averted by using a prompt? Remind the student of how to get desired outcome with the FERB?

2. Managing safely - How will staff maintain safety of everyone during escalated behavior? This is critical.

3. Debriefing - What procedures, after calm is restored, help identify how to prevent further occurrences and restore rapport and rule-following behavior?

4. Consequences - may or may not be required or recommended. Do school safety requirements, outside agency or parent requests require specific consequences? Does the team believe a consequence will result in the student avoiding using the problem behavior in the future?
Punishment is a consequence the student finds aversive and results in elimination or reduction in problem behavior because the student is motivated to avoid that consequence in the future. Caution: Avoid reinforcing the problem behavior. Sending a student to the office may be thought to be punishment, but the student may actually find it reinforcing!
Team Coordination:
Team Coordination: “Billy’s handwritten daily report card will be reviewed by parent and student nightly and will include report on Billy’s use of protesting solo written work through peer assistance requesting (FERB for protesting by profanity). (see attached sample card). Parents will return daily report with summary of Billy’s response to reinforcer given for adequate progress to the teacher issuing the report.

INCREASE GENERAL, Continuous: All written daily report card copies will be distributed to the counselor weekly and contain information on task completion rate (see IEP attachment). Parents will report back to school on Billy’s independent homework completion and teacher will report to parents on daily report that homework was received and evaluated; IEP team will review all data at next meeting in 3 months.”

DECREASE, Conditional: “If Billy has one episode of throwing furniture or continues profanity past two minutes in refusing tasks, principal and parent will be notified by phone within one day and a face to face conference held between teacher, principal and parents to analyze and problem-solve additional or other interventions.”

Key Concepts: All implementers must be clear on their responsibilities which are infused throughout the plan.
Goals and Objectives:
Goals and Objectives: DECREASE: By 6/03, on 4 out of 5 daily behavior report cards, Billy will have exhibited no task refusals, including profanity (defined as above in FERB) under conditions, measurement method and personnel described in FERB goal above.

INCREASE: “By 6/03, as reported on 3 out of 4 weekly summaries, Billy will have demonstrated completion of 95% of all written assignments for all subjects, times of day and all teachers, with or without peer assistance, with no cueing or defiance….. (See above) FERB for definitions, measurement methods, and personnel which are not repeated in this example due to space   limitations.)

Key Concepts: Six required components for goals-in any order: 

By when? (final date to achieve desired results)

Who? (the student)

Will do or not do what? (must be observable, measurable, specific behaviors desired, or not desired by team)

Under what conditions/situations? (e.g., location, circumstances, presence or absence of certain people or materials)

At what level of proficiency? (e.g., skill accuracy, frequency-number of times in a time period, degree of prompting, duration- number of minutes, intensity)

How measured and by whom? (e.g., observation, data recording: event or duration recording, permanent product, momentary time sampling; measured by a specific person)