Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Training Elementary School General Educators to Implement Function-Based Support

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Training Elementary School General Educators to Implement Function-Based Support

Article excerpt

Abstract

Function-based support (FBS) is an intervention strategy aimed at decreasing problem behaviors and increasing replacement behaviors via functional behavioral assessment and behavioral intervention planning. Although FBS is considered best practice for behavioral interventions in school settings, it is not mandated for students without disabilities and students with unidentified disabilities exhibiting problem behavior. Thus, many of these students receive inadequate interventions or none at all. Considering this context, this study investigated the effects of training elementary school general educators to independently implement FBS as a prereferral intervention. Results from four participating teachers and students suggest this may be a pragmatic and moderately effective practice. Confounds and limitations, as well as future directions for research and practice, are explored herein.

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Function-based support (FBS) is a strategic approach for decreasing problem behaviors and increasing replacement behaviors. It evolved from the tenets of applied behavior analysis (e.g., Baer, Wolf, & Risley, 1968, 1987) and is typically comprised of three consecutive processes: (a) conducting functional behavioral assessment (FBA), (b) utilizing FBA products to develop a behavior support plan (BSP), and (c) implementing and monitoring the BSP (Tobin, 2005). For FBS to be effective each process must be implemented; however, there is no consensus about the particular procedures comprising each process (Fox & Gable, 2004; Weber, Killu, Derby, & Barrerto, 2005).

To date, lack of procedural uniformity has not limited the effectiveness of FBS. Using varying procedures, researchers have demonstrated its effectiveness with individuals from preschool-age to adulthood, with mild to severe disabilities, in clinical, community, and school settings (Umbreit, Ferro, Liaupsin, & Lane, 2007; e.g., Hughes, Alberto, & Fredrick, 2006; Liaupsin, Umbreit, Ferro, Urso, & Upreti, 2006). Furthermore, FBS appears to improve problem behavior more efficiently than comparable comprehensive, technically sound, non-function based approaches (e.g., Ingram, Lewis-Palmer, & Sugai, 2005; Newcomer & Lewis, 2004). As a result, FBS may be considered best practice for behavioral interventions across settings and populations (Iwata et al, 2000).

Considering FBS to be best practice, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA; U.S. Department of Education, 2004) requires that it be implemented in schools for students with disabilities who violate a code of student conduct and are thus at risk for placement change, and suggests it be considered for students with disabilities whose behavior impedes the teaching and learning processes. Researchers and practitioners agree that these two legal provisions are empirically beneficial (Fox & Gable, 2004); nevertheless, they do not account for all student problem behavior. Because IDEIA is solely applicable to students with disabilities who are identified as needing special education services (U.S. Department of Education), it is not intended to meet the needs of students without disabilities and students with unidentified disabilities who exhibit problem behavior.

Problem behavior exhibited by students without disabilities and students with unidentified disabilities is usually less intense but more frequent than problem behavior exhibited by students with disabilities (Liaupsin, Jolivette, & Scott, 2004). Although these students are typically under-identified by school discipline systems, teachers report that their high frequency problem behaviors are as disruptive to the teaching and learning process as the problem behaviors exhibited by students with severe disabilities (Liaupsin et al., 2004). Considering this, it is estimated that 5% to 15% of general education students are currently exhibiting mild problem behaviors but receiving no special education or intervention related services (e. …

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