Post title: What is a functional behavior assessment?

FBA – What Is a Functional Behavior Assessment?

There will be times in a student’s academic career when they struggle with their education. Sometimes the best way to fix it is by looking at the cause of their struggles. In this case, their behavior is the cause.

As an education professional, implementing a functional behavior assessment could be the difference between a child continuing to struggle and turning things around.

To help you understand the fundamentals of managing behavior, we created a comprehensive guide about what an FBA is and how it can be used for effective behavior management.

What is an FBA?

FBA stands for “functional behavior assessment.” The purpose of this assessment is so that schools can pinpoint the behaviors that are interfering with a child’s ability to focus on their academics.

Once an FBA has been completed, the team of professionals surrounding the child can create a plan that will help the child make significant changes in their behavior.

An FBA removes the stigma of a child getting classified or looked at negatively. It instead forces educators to look beneath the surface for the causes of the behavior.

This assessment is the first step to redirecting the behavior and facilitating positivity.

Now that you know what an FBA is, here’s how to put the assessment to work.

Pinpoint the Behavior

The first step of the functional behavior plan is defining which behavior is causing the challenges the child is experiencing. It’s best if you define this behavior objectively.

For example, don’t say the child is acting ‘bad.’ Instead, say the child ‘throws books and tears book pages when asked to read.’ This approach is preferred because anyone who needs to read the plan will understand what behavior is being looked at and will further understand ways to redirect the behavior when it begins to happen.

Gather More Information

Once the behavior is identified, the next step in the assessment process is collecting information about the behavior. To gather information, the team might begin to interview staff members that have worked with the child throughout the school year.

It’s also useful to review past school records to see if there is any evidence of the behavior in the past and how the behavior was addressed. After collecting enough data, the child will then be tested.

It’s a good idea to ask the student questions because they are the only ones that will be able to give you a complete insight into what they are going through emotionally.

Questions that you might ask include:

  • What was going on before this behavior took place?
  • Who is around when you act this way?
  • Is there a place that this behavior doesn’t happen?
  • Where does this behavior frequently happen?

Having these answers is essential for the team to create a plan that can be used to address the behavior effectively.

Figure Out the Trigger

With the information collected and testing of the child, the team should now move forward with pinpointing what triggers the student’s behavior. In some cases, the child might be attempting to avoid reading because they don’t think they are good at reading.

By avoiding reading, they won’t feel embarrassed or face being made fun of by their peers. Students reacting to the comments or actions of their classmates is not uncommon.

In fact, peer influence is something students will deal with throughout most of their lives. If other students bring on the behavior, there are useful tips an educator can use to manage their classroom and create an atmosphere conducive for all children to learn.

The Plan

The final stage in the functional behavior assessment is to create the plan that will be used to improve the noted behaviors. In the plan, strategies can be used to implement positive behaviors by reducing the behaviors that create the challenges.

One useful step is having staff undergo K12 behavior management training to ensure that everyone involved can redirect behaviors before they become overly disruptive, no matter what age the children are.

This training can drastically improve the classroom environment, and you’ll notice that it benefits all students as well.

As the leader of your team, whether you’re the behavior interventionist or special education director, we want you to be equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge needed to act efficiently as your team’s head.

Our monthly webinar series on behavior management is a great resource to help you stay up to date on essential behavior management topics.

Each month you’ll receive new information that helps to improve future FBA plans put into place by your team.

Which Students Get FBAs?

One question that might be lingering is which students do you give a functional behavior assessment to? 

If a child has a 504 or IEP plan, they will receive an FBA if they begin to exhibit behaviors that aren’t already listed in their file.

This general rule is in place to ensure the student is receiving the level of education and assistance that they deserve. Students may also receive an FBA if they need to be removed from a school because of their behavior.

Keep in mind that the behavior exhibited by the student will need to be linked in some way to the disability that they have. 

Other questions to consider include:

  • Was law enforcement called to manage the student’s behavior?
  • Did the students cause injury to themselves or someone else?

These would both be situations in which an FBA should be completed before ensuring a way to minimize the risk of the child hurting themselves or others in the future.

Lastly, an FBA should be completed when a student is being evaluated for special needs.

Functional Behavior Assessment: Helping Students Achieve Their Potential

A functional behavior assessment is a way to help a child improve behaviors that could be hindering their learning abilities. As a team, you will work together to pinpoint the issue and create a plan to help the student.

If you’re ready to provide your students the support they need, request a 30-minute demo from Insights to Behavior and learn how our software can help students and teachers today.


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Easily create comprehensive Individual Behavior Intervention Plans for K-12 students in one hour or less with Insights to Behavior.

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