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Section 2

ak dept education

special ed handbook

This appendix describes the purposes and components of a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and a behavioral intervention plan (BIP). These procedures, coupled with a well-defined school-wide discipline management system, are integral parts of an effective behavioral support system for children whose behavior interferes with their learning or the learning of others in an educational setting. Also described in this appendix is the manifestation determination review. All three of these procedures are important components of the federal regulations relating to disciplinary actions for children with disabilities.

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a problem-solving strategy utilized by educators, parents, and agency personnel to design an effective plan for helping children learn and choose more appropriate behaviors. These interventions assist the child by specifically identifying these behaviors, as well as the overall context within which they occur. The outcome of an FBA is a behavioral intervention plan that defines the team's strategy for addressing the behaviors, including timelines, role responsibilities, and consequence methods. The FBA should be seen as part of a continuum of evaluation and re-evaluation procedures, not as an isolated practice reserved only for disciplinary proceedings.

In fact, during any educational evaluation of a child or review of a child's IEP, an FBA must be conducted if problem behaviors need to be addressed. The results are then considered during the development of the IEP. Documentation regarding intervention strategies that have already been tried, as well as the positive or negative results they achieved, is very important for ensuring a quality FBA and BIP.

If the IEP Team determines that a child's behavior(s) is interfering with his or her learning, or that of other students, a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) must be developed. This plan consists of the positive intervention strategies and supports selected by the team to address the child's inappropriate behaviors. As with an FBA, however, a BIP is not only used to react to disciplinary situations, but may be created for any child demonstrating challenging behaviors. This is a tool that is often very effective in reducing the need for more extreme disciplinary measures, such as suspension or expulsion.

When suspension or expulsion of a child with disabilities is contemplated or does occur, however, it is a legal requirement for the IEP Team and other qualified personnel to review the possible relationship between the child's behavior and the child's disability. This process is called a manifestation determination. If, through this process, the IEP Team determines that the behavior in question is related to the child's disability, or is a manifestation of the disability, then suspension or expulsion of the child is not allowed. If the behavior is determined not to be a manifestation of the child's disability, the child may be suspended or expelled in the same manner as a child who does not demonstrate a disability, although special education services must still be provided.

Conducting an FBA, creating a BIP, and completing a manifest determination review may be fairly simple or quite complicated depending on the specific concerns of the child being addressed. Each of these procedures is described below in more detail.



As noted above, an FBA is a procedure for gathering information that can be used to help identify the function of a child's behavior. The specific components of an FBA are described next.

Components and Processes

A functional behavioral assessment requires educators to be observant and to consider the world from the child's perspective. The components and steps in the process are the following:
  1. Define the problem: Ask yourself, "What is the behavior, or behaviors of most concern?" If there are several behaviors identified, choose one or two on which to focus.

    Outcome: A clear written description of the problem behavior.

  2. Gather information: Consider medical, physical, social concerns, eating, diet, sleep routines, substance abuse history, and stressful events. Ask the child and parents for information related to the behavior selected.

    Outcome: Specific biological, physiological, or environmental factors that have a causal effect on the behavior may surface.

  3. Identify events, times, and situations: Answer key questions that consider when the behavior usually occurs and usually does not occur, such as, "Who is there? What is going on at the time? When does it happen?"

    Outcome: The ability to predict when the problem behaviors will and will not occur across the full range of typical daily routines.

  4. Identify the consequences that maintain the behavior; This includes information about what happens after the behavior that increases the likelihood the student will perform the behavior again in the same circumstances.

    Outcome: Determination of what function each problem behavior appears to serve for the student.

  5. Development of a theory: This would include one or more summary statements as to why the student uses the problem behavior. What is the functional intent of the student's behavior?

    Outcome: One or more hypotheses that describe specific behaviors, the situations in which they occur, and the outcomes maintaining the behavior in that situation.
Adapted from O'Neill, Horner, Albin, Sprague, Storey, Newton. (1997). Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behavior: Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishers.



A behavioral intervention plan (BIP), guided by information gained from an FBA, is the overall strategy the team has designed to increase or reduce a definable set or pattern of behaviors demonstrated by a child. This strategy may include the following:
  • Teaching preventive and de-escalation techniques to staff, parents, and peers.
  • Teaching crisis-response techniques.
  • Teaching the child appropriate replacement behaviors
  • Providing positive and negative consequences to the child.
Components of a Behavioral Intervention Plan

Although each BIP will differ according to the needs demonstrated by different children, some common aspects of most BIPs include the following:
  • Defining the target behavior in measurable terms.
  • Changing some of the who, what, when, and where information derived from the FBA.
  • Teaching the child new ways to meet his or her needs (i.e. identifying another behavior or skill that will be taught so the child can accomplish his or her purpose in a more acceptable way).
  • Teaching others, including staff members and peers, how to react to the child's behavior in a way that will reinforce appropriate behavior.
  • Teaching how to manage a crisis situation, if appropriate.
  • Creating an appropriate data collection system that measures progress toward the desired goals and objectives of the plan.
  • Scheduling a review date to reconsider the plan.
A form for recording the BIP is provided in this appendix. However, districts are not required to use this form.

Prior to the Implementation of the Behavior Intervention Plan

Prior to implementing a behavior intervention plan, all staff dealing with the child must be trained to execute the plan consistently. A time line for collecting necessary materials, making environmental arrangements, training staff, and starting the plan also needs to be established. Specific tasks should be clearly assigned to all the individuals involved. Once this is accomplished, the plan is ready to implement.

Following the Implementation of the Behavioral Intervention Plan

After the BIP has been implemented for at least two weeks, the team should meet and review the impact the plan is having. Part of this review should consider how successfully the BIP has been implemented and followed by staff members, as well as how successful the BIP has been in preventing or changing the target problem behavior. If the procedures and steps that have been taken are determined ineffective, alternative interventions may be selected. If interventions are repeatedly found to be ineffective, the IEP Team may wish to consider further evaluation or a different placement.

The Use of Extraordinary or Alternative Procedures

No reasonable or valid procedure is excluded from being used in a BIP. However, discipline management procedures must be selected and supervised with the utmost care. These procedures may include time-outs, physical restraints, or "room clears," etc. If any extraordinary procedures are required, they shall be considered by the IEP Team (including the parent), who must:
  • Document the validity of the procedure.
  • Document the need for the procedure with objective data.
  • Document the training of the staff who will use the procedure.

In conducting a manifestation determination review, the IEP Team and other qualified personnel may determine that the behavior of the child was not a manifestation of the child's disability only if they:
  1. First consider all relevant information including the following:
    1. Whether a child exhibited similar behavior in the past that was attributed to a disability.
    2. The child' IEP, including supplementary aids and services.
    3. Evaluation and diagnostic results (e.g. FBA) including information supplied by the student and the parent.
    4. Observations across educational or activity settings.
    5. Events immediately proceeding the occurrence of the behavior.
    6. The extent to which the student's disability impaired his/her awareness and understanding of the impact and consequences of the behavior.
  2. And then determine that:
    1. The child's IEP and placement were appropriate.
    2. And the special education services, supplementary aids and services, and behavior intervention strategies were provided consistent with the child's IEP and placement.
    3. And the child's disability did not impair the ability of the child to control the behavior subject to disciplinary action.
When the IEP Team Determines that Behavior is not a Manifestation of a Child's Disability

If the IEP Team determines that a child's behavior is not a manifestation of the child's disability, then the child is subject to the same disciplinary measures as a child without a disability. If the child's parents do not agree with the IEP Team's determination, a due process hearing may be initiated. During the pendency of the procedures, the "stay put" provision will be in effect unless a placement change is agreed to by all parties. An expedited hearing can be held if the school believes the child is a danger to self and others.

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