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What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment?  

May 21, 2024
Family Support, K-12, Special Education

What is a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA)?

The process of determining why a student engages in behaviors that impede learning and how the student’s behavior relates to the environment. In other words, it’s a process used to figure out what’s causing challenging behavior.

When is an FBA needed? 

  • Students are engaging in problem behaviors that are impacting their ability to access their education.
  • The student’s behavior presents a risk to themselves or others.
  • Disciplinary action is being considered due to behavior that results from the student’s disability.
  • A more restrictive environment or change in placement or setting is being considered.
  • Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions have been unsuccessful. Tier 1 refers to schoolwide systemic and classwide support. Tier 2 refers to small group support. Examples of Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions: school’s social emotional curriculum, classroom rules, periodic check-ins, breaks, etc. See Behavior Supports.

How can an FBA get started?

  • An FBA/BIP is a Tier 3 intervention. When considering a referral for an FBA, It’s best practice to discuss what strategies and support have been provided. In other words, what Tier 1 and Tier 2 strategies have been implemented? 
  • The parent/caregiver makes a referral to the IEP team or CPSE/CSE by writing a letter requesting an FBA. 
  • The IEP team and CPSE/CSE could also make the referral. 
  • Parent/caregiver must sign consent for FBA.

Who conducts the FBA?

The FBA team may vary depending on who is qualified and available. It consists of school professionals that know and work with the student, the IEP team and the CPSE/CSE. For example: Teacher, Psychologist, Social Worker, the parent/caregiver, among others. The FBA team will conduct assessments, review reports, conduct interviews, and gather other data to determine what is causing the behavior and what support would be most appropriate, and determine whether a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is needed. 

What is a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)?

The FBA findings may lead to the CPSE/CSE determining a Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is needed. A BIP is a plan that provides teachers and school staff with a specific plan to support the student’s behavioral needs in school and it’s developed by the BIP team and CPSE/CSE. The BIP team could be the school professionals that formed part of the FBA team, or other school professionals. 

The BIP will include individualized support and strategies, such as: 

  • Modifying environment, curriculum, and interactions 
  • Teaching replacement behaviors
  • What will be the response when student demonstrates problem behavior
  • What will be  the response when a student uses replacement behaviors
  • The BIP will include ways to measure progress

Things to note:

  • The parent is part of the FBA/BIP team and process. Sharing information about the child is important and necessary for the school staff to gain a more accurate understanding of the child.
  • Parents can ask how to implement behavior strategies at home.
  • The BIP team should report on intervention effectiveness and monitor progress.  
  • The BIP is a legal document and is part of the IEP. FBA and BIP information should be reflected in the IEP.