The purpose of this research was to evaluate the effects of two trainings designed to increase the competencies of professionals to develop high quality positive behavior support plans for students that engage in problem behaviors that interfere with theirs and/or others' ability to learn. Training one consisted of training attendees on six key concepts of behavior analysis, and team functioning, that are supported by the research as best practice for effective behavior change. Training two concentrated on training attendees how to evaluate and rate the quality of PBS plans using an evidence-based rating instrument. Results of the professional trainings revealed that participants were nearly four times more likely to develop PBS plans that were rated as good or superior after receiving training on how to evaluate and rate the quality of PBS plans than receiving training on the six key concepts alone. The implications for professional pre- and in-service training to enhance the skills of educators in developing PBS plans based on functional behavioral assessments are discussed.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA, 2004) was signed into law on December 3, 2004, renewing several key commitments to special education students who engage in persistent, problematic behavior. Two of the most significant commitments embedded within the language of IDEIA 2004 that are most relevant to disciplinary practice in the schools relate to conducting a functional behavior assessment (FBA) and developing a positive behavior support plan (PBS plan). The specific language in IDEIA 2004 states that the IEP Team shall develop a PBS plan: (a) In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others; (b) when a disciplinary action is taken that results in an involuntary placement change, and the behavior is a manifestation of the disability; and (c) in the situation where a behavioral intervention plan has been developed, review the behavioral intervention plan if the child already has such a behavioral intervention plan, and modify it, as necessary, to address the behavior.
Despite the continuation of these requirements from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA 97), recent data indicate that schools in general have made little to marginal progress in adequately meeting these mandates and fulfilling the intent of the law (Cook et al., in press; Smith, 2000; Van Acker, Boreson, Gable, & Potterton, 2005). The current inadequacy is not surprising considering that several researchers anticipated this inadequacy at the outset of the policy debate in Congress during the nascent stages of IDEA 97 (Conroy, Clark, Gable, & Fox, 1999; Drasgow & Yell, 2001; Gresham, Quinn, & Restori 1999; Smith, 2000). Researchers initially feared that school personnel lacked the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct adequate FBAs, and to develop legally defensible and educationally appropriate PBS plans. Sadly, research over the past few years (Conroy, Katsiyannis, Clark, Gable, & Fox, 2002; Horner, Sugai, Todd, Lewis-Palmer, 1999-2000; Scott, Nelson, & Zabala, 2003) has validated these fears by revealing a state of affairs in American education where (a) inadequate FBAs were conducted (Gable, 1999), (b) there was little or no correspondence between FBA data and the content of PBS plans (Van Acker et al., 2005), and (c) the majority of PBS plans from typical school teams were rated as legally indefensible and substantively inadequate (Cook et al., in press; Yell, 2002). This latter issue, improving the substantive adequacy of PBS plans, represents the primary focus of this paper.
In an attempt to begin to develop an understanding of the quality of PBS plans developed by educators in today's schools, Cook et al. (in press) performed a study that focused on comparing the substantive adequacy of actual PBS plans developed by typical school teams without demonstrated knowledge and experience to teams including a member with advanced knowledge and skills in behavioral theory and practice. …