Although functional behavior assessment (FBA) is widely advocated as best practice in developing effective behavior intervention plans for students with challenging behaviors, there is no compelling evidence supporting the ability of school-based personnel to use the outcomes of FBA to develop effective interventions. In this study, selected staff members from four elementary schools were trained in how to use the outcomes of an FBA to develop function-based intervention plans. They then formed school-based intervention teams and served as facilitators for a total of 31 cases. The same cases also were distributed to three national FBA experts who selected interventions based on the identified function for each case. The number and type of selected intervention strategies were recorded and analyzed across cases. Comparisons between team and expert intervention strategy selection revealed that school-based personnel in this study were more likely to select punitive and exclusionary strategies, regardless of function. Thus, in real-world school settings, the link between FBA and intervention is far more complex than has been recognized or discussed in the literature. Discussion focuses on possible explanations for the finding that school-based teams tend to gravitate toward more negative and exclusionary strategies, even when mediated by a trained FBA facilitator.
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