Helpful Web Sites Additional Resources

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Supplemental Reading Materials

  1. Helpful Web Sites

  1. Additional Resources

  1. What is a “Functional Assessment” of My Child’s Behavior?

PACER Center

  1. Addressing Student Problem Behavior: An IEP Team’s introduction to functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans

Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice

  1. Why would anyone do something like that?
An introduction to functional assessment

A joint project of the University of Minnesota and the Osseo Public Schools

  1. A Collection of Positive Behavioral Interventions

Dianna Herrmann, EBD Teacher, Princeton, MN

  1. Interventions for the Classroom

The College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota

  1. Positive Intervention Procedures

Charlotte Ryan, Project Director, Children, Families and Learning, Roseville, MN

  1. Functional Behavioral Assessment and Positive Interventions: What Parents Need to Know

PACER Center


  1. Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, American Institutes for Research

  1. Center for Mental Health Services, Knowledge Exchange Network

  1. National Association of School Psychologists

  1. National Institute of Mental Health

  1. PACER Center, Minneapolis, MN

Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers (Alliance)

Families and Advocates Partnership for Education (FAPE)

  1. U.S. Department of Education

  1. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Office of Special Education Programs

  1. U.S. Department of Justice

  1. OSEP Technical Assistance Center on Positive Interventions and Supports (PBIS)

  1. The Federal Resource Center for Special Education (FRC)

  1. Northeast Regional Resource Center (NERRC)

  2. Mid-South Regional Resource Center (MSRRC)

  1. Southeast Regional Resource Center (SARRC)

  1. Great Lakes Area Regional Resource Center (GLARRC)

  1. Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center (MPRRC)

  1. Western Regional Resource Center (WRRC)

  1. National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)


Barbara, L., & Knostler, T. (1996). Guidelines on effective behavioral support. PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.

Bullock, L.M., & Gable, R.A. (Eds.) (1997) Making collaboration work for children, youth, families, school, and communities. Reston, VA: Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders & Chesapeake Institute.
Carr, E.G., & Durand, V.M. (1985) Reducing behavior problems through functional communication training. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 25, 823—840.
Center for Systemic Educational Change. (1996). (videotape). Creating caring communities: A responsive classroom for urban children. District of Columbia Public Schools.
Colvin, G., & Sugai, G. (1988). Proactive strategies for managing social behavior problems: An instructional approach. Education and Treatment of Children. 11, 341—348.

Dunlap, G., Kern, L., dePerczel, M., Clark, S., Wilson, D., Childs, K.E., White, R., and Falk, G.D. (1993). Functional analysis of classroom variables for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders. 18, 275—291.

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L., & Bahr, M., (1990). Mainstream assistance teams: A scientific basis for the art of consultation. Exceptional Children. 22 128—139.
Gable, R.A. (1996). A critical analysis of functional assessment: Issues for researchers and practitioners. Behavioral Disorders. 22. 36—40.
Gable, R.A., Sugai, G.M., Lewis, T.J., Nelson, J.R, Cheney, D., Safran, S.P. & Safran, J.S. (1997). Individual and systematic approaches to collaboration and consultation. Reston, VA: Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.
Haynes, S.N., & O’Brien, W.H. (1990). Functional analysis in behavior therapy. Clinical Psychological Review. 10, 649—668.
Hendrickson, J.M., Gable, R.A., Novac, C., & Peck, S. (1996). Functional assessment for teaching academics. Education and Treatment of Children. 19, 257—271.
Kaplan, J.S., (1995). Beyond behavior modification: A cognitive-behavioral approach to behavior management in the school. (3rd edition). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
Knostler, T. (1996). A quick glance at establishing an ecology of behavioral support in schools. Instructional Support System of PA: PA Department of Education.

Lewis, T.J., Scott, T.M., & Sugai, G.M. (1994). The problem behavior questionnaire: A teacher-based instrument to develop functional hypotheses of problem behavior in general education classrooms. Diagnostique. 19, 103—115.

Lewis, T.J., & Sugai, G.M. (1994). Functional assessment of problem behavior: A pilot investigation of the comparative and interactive effects of teacher and peer social attention on students in general education settings. School Psychology Quarterly. 11, 1—19.
Mathur, S.R., Quinn, M.M., & Rutherford, R.B. (1996). Teacher-mediated behavior management strategies for children with emotional/behavioral disorders. Reston, VA: Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.
VanDenBerg, J., (1993). Integration of individualized mental health services onto the system of care for children and adolescents. Administration and Policy in Mental Health. 24(4). 247—257.
Wood, F.M. (1994). May I ask you why you are hitting yourself? Using oral self-reports in the functional assessment of adolescents’ behavior disorders. Preventing School Failure. 38, 16—20.


Dishion, T.J., & Patterson, S.G. (1996). Preventative parenting with love, encouragement and limits: The preschool years. Eugene, OR: Castalia Publishing.

(3) Issues of the Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Reclaiming Children and Youth. (1) Containing Crisis: A Guide to Managing School Emergencies, (2) Rage and Aggression, (3) Gangs, Guns, and Kids. National Education Service, Bloomington, IN.

Stephens, R.D. (1995) Safe Schools: A handbook for violence prevention. National Education Service, Bloomington, IN.

Walker, H.M. (1995). The acting-out child: Coping with classroom disruption (2nd ed.). Sopris West, Longmont, CO.
Heartsprings, Inc. (1995). PeaceBuilders: A Comprehensive Alternative to Violence. Tucson, AZ.

What Is A ‘Functional Assessment’

Of My Child’s Behavior?

QUESTION: My son Tom receives special education services at our junior high school, but is in a regular classroom for most of his school day. He receives detention or in-school suspension several times a week for being disruptive in the regular classroom, and has even been sent home for a cooling-off period several times over the past few months. His teachers have tried to be helpful, and are willing to do what they can, but they say that he refuses to do his work, gets angry for no apparent reason, and sometimes just leaves the classroom. They want to send him to another school where he can get more services. I’ve had many meetings with the school staff to change his program, but I still do not understand why he is having such problems in the first place. Tom’s problems are not so severe at home or in the neighborhood. My friend told me to ask the school to do a functional assessment of his behavior. Is that different from the assessment schools typically do?
A functional behavioral assessment, or analysis, is a process which seeks to identify the problem behavior a child or adolescent may exhibit, particularly in school, to determine the function or purpose of the behavior, and to develop interventions to teach acceptable alternatives to the behavior. The process is as follows:

1. Identify the behavior that needs to change,

  1. Collect data on the behavior,

3. Develop a “hypothesis” (best guess) about the reason for the behavior,

4. Develop an intervention to help change the behavior,

5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention,

6. Have patience.

The first step in conducting a functional behavioral assessment is for the school team to identify and agree upon the behavior that most needs to be changes. Children and youth can exhibit a spectrum of difficult behaviors; it will be important to develop a prioritized list, so that the most severe behaviors can be addressed first. There will be times when the most appropriate response to irritating but non-dangerous behaviors is planned ignoring, particularly when the student is working on correcting more severe behaviors.
The second step is to collect data on the occurrence of the targeted behavior, identifying not only its frequency and intensity, but examining the context (the when, where and how) of the behavior. Consider:

  1. In what settings does the behavior occur most


  1. Where did it occur most recently?

  2. Who else was there?

  • 1994. PACER Center, Inc., 4826 Chicago Ave S., Mpls., MN 55417-1098; (612) 827-2966

Reprinted from the June 1994 PACER Center PACESETTER.

  1. What is unique about the environment where the behavior occurred (size of classroom, number of students, teaching style, seating, distractions, academic/behavioral expectations, structure)

  1. What other behavior occurred just before the targeted behavior? (interaction with another student, change in tasks, teacher direction, etc.)

  2. What were the immediate consequences of the behavior? (teacher attention, student laughter, etc.)

  3. Could the consequences be seen as positive for the student?

After the intervention has been tried over a period of time, it will be important to test the hypothesis. Does the intervention need to be paired with other modifications or rewards to increase its effectiveness? Did the intervention reduce the problem behavior? If not, what other strategies can be considered? Is it necessary to reevaluate the hypothesis, or to develop another best guess about the reason for the behavior, or to collect more information?

While conducting a functional assessment of a child’s behavior may take a bit more time initially to complete, for those students for whom typical interventions have not been successful, developing an understanding of the cause of behavior may be key to helping them learn new behavioral skills.
Functional assessments have been used for many years with students who have severe disabilities, to help parents and teachers to understand the function of inappropriate behavior, and to plan effective interventions. Functional assessments are also a useful approach to evaluating the reason for inappropriate behaviors for students who have milder disabilities, when their behaviors do not improve with the use of typical school interventions. It sounds as though you and the school staff are both frustrated by your son’s lack of behavioral improvement, and, in this instance, a functional behavioral assessment may be a very good idea.

  • 1994. PACER Center, Inc., 4826 Chicago Ave S., Mpls., MN 55417-1098; (612) 827-2966

Reprinted from the June 1994 PACER Center PACESETTER.

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