Journal of Behavioral Education

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 35–56 | Cite as

Are we on the Right Course? Lessons Learned about Current FBA/BIP Practices in Schools

  • Richard Van Acker
  • Lynn Boreson
  • Robert A. Gable
  • Thomas Potterton


Schools across the nation have been charged with the task of conducting functional behavioral assessments (FBAs) to aid in the development of behavior intervention plans (BIPs) to address the challenging behavior of students with special education needs. In response, schools have initiated efforts to provide the various members of their student services and individualized education program (IEP) teams with the knowledge and training to insure compliance with the federal mandate. The current study examines the FBAs and BIPs developed by school teams across one state with regards to ‘best practices’ and the requirements identified in recent litigation. Following a state-wide training effort, service team members from school districts across Wisconsin were encouraged to submit completed FBA/BIPs for a critical review (whether or not they had participated in the training). Findings suggest that the majority of the FBAs submitted displayed serious flaws. The most common problem resulted from a lack of clarity in the identification and operational definition of the target behavior or behaviors under investigation. There was a general failure to identify any effort taken by the team members to verify the hypothesized function of the behavior before attempting intervention. Perhaps most alarmingly, a significant number of the teams did not appear to take the function of the behavior identified in the FBA into consideration when developing the BIP. Teams that included members who had completed two or more days of intensive in-service education related to FBA/BIP development were found to produce better results. Readers are provided a simplified checklist for use in reviewing their own FBA/BIPs.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Van Acker
    • 1
    • 5
  • Lynn Boreson
    • 2
  • Robert A. Gable
    • 3
  • Thomas Potterton
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Illinois at ChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Wisconsin Department of Public InstructionMadison
  3. 3.Old Dominion UniversityUSA
  4. 4.Cooperative Educational Service Agency #12Ashland
  5. 5.University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education (M/C 147Chicago

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