District-Level Administrators' Perspectives on the Implementation of Functional Behavior Assessment in Schools

Article excerpt


Since the reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 1997) through the current reauthorization (IDEA 2004), disciplinary procedures and functional behavioral assessment (FBA) have been widely used in school districts to assist in the prevention and amelioration of problem behaviors. Although researchers have documented the effectiveness of FBA strategies in identifying environmental factors that contribute to and maintain problem behavior, less is known about how personnel in school districts are actually using FBA procedures. This survey examined district-level administrators' perspectives regarding their district's use of FBA procedures across two southern states (Florida and South Carolina). Major findings indicate that conducting FBA procedures was mostly useful for dealing with chronic problem behavior, followed by verbal aggression and physical aggression. The FBA procedures were least useful in dealing with drug-related behaviors, weapon-related behaviors, and truancy. However, respondents indicated that chronic behaviors and verbal aggression were more likely to result in an FBA if they occurred at the high-intensity and moderate-intensity level, respectively, whereas physical aggression was more likely to lead to the initiation of an FBA at the low-intensity level. Also, respondents indicated that they were likely to use indirect FBA strategies, rather than direct measures, and to use a team of professionals when conducting FBA. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Disciplinary provisions outlined in the Individuals With Disabilities Act Amendments (IDEA; 1997, 2004; Yell, Shriner, & Katsiyannis, 2006) include specific techniques, such as functional behavioral assessment (FBA), implementation guidelines for manifestation determination hearings, and specific criteria for governing placements in interim alternative education settings (IAES). In fact, IDEA (1997, 2004) outlines specific disciplinary actions that trigger the need for an FBA or the review of an FBA or behavioral intervention plan (BIP) if they are already in place (for BIP-related legal and practice considerations, see Maag & Katsiyannis, 2006). Specifically, IDEA (2004) amendments and related regulations require that school districts provide educational services when seeking a change in a students' placement that would exceed 10 school days for violations of the school code or placement in an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days in conjunction with misconduct involving weapons, illegal drugs, or inflection of serious bodily injury (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1) (C), (D), and (G)). In these instances, the student regardless of whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of his or her disability - will continue to receive educational services and, "as appropriate, a functional behavioral assessment, behavioral intervention services and modifications that are designed to address the behavior violation so that it does not reoccur" (20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(D)). If a student's behavior is determined to be a manifestation of his or her disability, the individualized education plan (IEP) team is required to conduct an FBA and implement a BIP for the student unless one exists (because of school code violations or in connection with misconduct involving weapons or illegal drugs or inflection of serious bodily injury; 20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(1)(F)(i) and (M)). Also, under the section titled "Consideration of Special Factors" related to the development of an IEP, IDEA (2004) states that the "IEP Team shall in the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior" (§1414 (d)(3)(B) (i)). Certainly, the use of FBA should be an important component of designing these positive behavioral interventions.

Beginning with IDEA (1997), the use of FBA has become common practice in school districts across the nation. …


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