Functional Behavior Assessment & Behavior Intervention Plans

Click here to jump to the step-by-step explanation of the FBA/BIP process

What is a Functional Behavior Assessment & Behavior Intervention Plan?


A Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is a process that seeks to determine the underlying cause or function of student behaviors that impede the learning of the student or the learning of the student’s peers.

A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a plan that utilizes behavioral interventions and supports in order to reduce behaviors which interfere with a student’s academic progress and/or increase behaviors that lead to successful learning for that student.

How is this process designed differently so that it works efficiently in a public school setting?

Typically, the FBA is performed first to gather information on challenging student behaviors, and this data is then used to develop the BIP.  This process varies depending on tthe context that it is performed in.  While many people are familiar with an FBA & BIP process that was developed primarily within and for a clinical setting, this traditional process may not be the most appropriate or practical for a public school setting.

The process described here is one that was developed in collaboration with Harrisonburg City Schools.  It's underlying structure is one that is consistent with a traditional FBA/BIP process.  However, the terminology and procedures have been updated to work more efficiently within a public school setting.

While traditional FBA's & BIP's usually require at least some training to implement, the terms used and data collection procedures in this process have been reformatted in such a way that a typical teacher without significant behavioral training will be able to actively participate in the process by providing accurate information on the target behaviors.

Additionally, the resources needed for this process are arranged so that only the minimum are initially used (interview forms), and more intensive resources are only saved for those behavioral issues that really require it.  

Finally, the time required for the process from referral to an operational BIP has been reduced to 1-2 weeks, which is more manageable in schools than some other processes which take longer.

How does the process work?

Essentially, the process works is divded into four parts.  Each part and it's purpose is described below.

During this portion of the process, any individuals that work closely with the student are given a 1-page questionnaire to complete that will serve to organize the information that they will need to share at the FBA meeting and help to focus the team's efforts.  The questionnaire are relatively easy to complete and ask for concrete descriptions of the behavior without requiring any initial interpretation of the behavior's function.  Additionally, if significant discrepencies are noted in the returned questionnaires, then an observation of the student may occur to help in verifying the reports.

FBA Meeting
During FBA meeting, efforts are made to decide upon the behaviors of concern and determine the function of those behaviors.  An emphasis is placed upon finding common patterns that seem to exist within the information that was collected during the pre-meeting phase.

BIP Meeting
During the BIP meeting, the focus during this portion of the process changes to analyze the reason why more appropriate behaviors aren't occuring, Goals are set regarding the occurrence of these behaviors, and then a support plan is developed to aid the student in achieving those goals.

BIP Review Meeting
This process recognizes that no plan is perfect the first time.  FBA analyses might be incorrect, BIPs might require more intensive interventions, or behaviors of concern might have changed.  Because of this, at every BIP a review meeting is set to occur within a month of the BIPs initial implementation.  During this portion of the meeting, the effectiveness and fidelity of the current plan are discussed and any improvements that might be made are discussed and added to the plan if necessary.  This provides an efficient way to maintain consistent improvement of the plan to ensure continued student success.

Click here to view the a step-by-step explanation of the FBA/BIP process

This material was developed in collaboration with Harrisonburg City Public Schools