Guidelines for Identifying and Educating Students with Emotional Disability

Assessment and Eligibility

Best Practices for Assessment

Best practices for assessment is a process of obtaining information about students so that teachers, other school professionals and parents can make informed decisions about students' education. A comprehensive and valued assessment is key to ensuring a student's access to appropriate educational opportunities. With respect to the PPT process, assessment decisions focus on (1) determining the student's eligibility for special education and related services, (2) developing the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP), and (3) ongoing measurement and monitoring of student performance. These decisions are made appropriately when assessment is conducted in a comprehensive and valid manner using various sources of information as appropriate such as observations, evaluation measures, ratings scales and normative data (i.e., age, gender, ethnicity and language). Additionally, the measures employed must be considered valid and reliable for the group to which the measures are administered. Valid assessment practices include the following assumptions:

  • activities involving the documentation of prior interventions, which may have been employed and documented within a SRBI framework;
  • persons conducting the assessments are appropriately qualified;
  • tests are used with students to whom the measures are normed; and,
  • sampling of students' behavior is obtained.

Failure to conduct a comprehensive and valid assessment may harm or hinder a student's educational opportunities. Comprehensive assessment activities include the documentation of alternative interventions employed prior to the initiation of the PPT process and those that may have been initiated within a SRBI framework. The PPT should design a comprehensive assessment that adheres to the following criteria:

  • use reliable and valued methods that are specific to the purposes for which they are being used, and as applicable, adhere to the standards put forth in Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education, 1994);
  • use multiple sources of information, such as but not limited to clinical or structured interviews, systematic observations, behavior checklists and rating scales, self-reports, work samples and standardized assessment instruments;
  • ensure that the application of assessment practices is nondiscriminatory (see A Note on Cultural Considerations in the Identification of Students with Emotional Disability);
  • include information concerning the student's family and developmental history, health, cultural norms and expectations, and social and emotional functioning in the home and community;
  • gather evidence concerning educational/classroom performance;
  • obtain information about student abilities and performance in the areas of cognitive/academic, communication, social/emotional, personal/adaptive and perceptual/motor functioning;
  • analyze factors underlying the student's behavior or emotional responses by identifying the target behavior, the function or purpose of the behavior and the factors maintaining the behavior; and
  • document student's responses to interventions.

Information and involvement from parents/family is essential in designing a comprehensive assessment. Input from parents ensure that the appropriate information is collected, documented, used in determining eligibility and included when the PPT determines that an IEP will be developed. When the PPT engages in designing an initial evaluation or reevaluation to determine eligibility for special education, the IDEA 2004 requires that school personnel collect and consider parental input (34 C.F.R. Sections 300.304[b][1], 300.305[a][l][i] and 300.305[a][2], and 300.306[c][l][i]). Information related to the student's developmental history; medical and health history; family dynamics (including recent situational trauma); strengths and weaknesses; prior educational opportunities; cultural and linguistic background; and functional abilities outside of the school setting is essential to completing a comprehensive evaluation and is best provided by the parent, guardian and/or other family member.


Checklist for Comprehensive Evaluation

Worksheet for Conducting a Comprehensive Evaluation [PDF]


Assessment for Eligibility

Assessment of a student for evidence of an educational disability due to an emotional disability is a comprehensive process that adheres to the integrity of the emotional disability (ED) definition. Assessment of a student with atypical behaviors and emotions is actually a series of decisions that have long-term educational, social and vocational consequences. Therefore, it is essential that these decisions reflect a truly disabling condition and not an intolerance of or insensitivity to individual differences, the impact of unrelated disabilities, and/or temporary situational factors. The multidisciplinary team is essential to the determination of eligibility for special education and related services. The school psychologist, school social worker and teacher should be involved in all school-based assessments. The team should also include other student support services staff (i.e., school counselor, school nurse) and other school personnel as appropriate. Parent/family input into a comprehensive assessment ensures that appropriate information related to the student's developmental history, medical and health history, family dynamics, strengths and weaknesses, prior educational opportunities, cultural and linguistic background and functional abilities outside of the school setting is collected, documented and used in determining eligibility.

Best practices suggest that the PPT do the following when considering eligibility:

  • evaluate interventions within the general education setting that were attempted (i.e., SRBI tiered interventions) prior to referral, to determine if they are sufficient in scope;
  • review referral and screening information;
  • consult in the planning of assessment and/or additional intervention;
  • conduct screening and/or assessment procedures; and
  • link assessment data to intervention planning, implementation and ongoing evaluation.

In considering this information, the PPT has responsibility for three initial steps: (1) determine if the prereferral strategies and interventions were sufficient and, if not, request the implementation of additional alternative strategies; (2) determine that evidence supports a suspected disability and, if not, indicate that an evaluation is premature; and (3) if recommended, design an evaluation study. If an evaluation study is warranted, C.G.S. Section 10-76d-9 of the further specifies that an evaluation study must include reports of:

  • educational progress;
  • structured observation; and
  • psychological, medical, developmental and social evaluation as appropriate.

Additional evaluation procedures are outlined in the IDEA, Section 614(b). These regulations address administration of evaluation measures and the use of other evaluation materials in the child's native language by trained personnel in conformance with the instructions provided by the producers of the test/materials. A full explanation of these requirements is provided in section 5 To rule out an underlying medical condition as the source of the student's behaviors, it is important for the school health professional to communicate with the student's health care providers and parents. This information will help ensure that the diagnosis and subsequent treatment plans are coordinated and comprehensive. This should be a collaborative effort between the school mental health professional and the school nurse.

Although an emotional disability can exist concomitantly with other disabilities such as a specific learning disability, sensory impairment, developmental delay, physical disability, language disability or an autism spectrum disorder, a student should be identified as ED for the purpose of special education only if the emotional disability is considered the student's "primary disability." In the event that other disabilities (e.g. autism, multiple disabilities or other health impairment) are suspected, the comprehensive evaluation should investigate and identify those disability areas. If criteria are met in more than one disability category, it is the responsibility of the PPT to determine which disability is "primary;" that is, having principle influence on the student's ability to participate and progress in general education.

The content expected within the comprehensive evaluation study for assessment of ED is outlined on the Checklist for Comprehensive Evaluation and summarized in the Planning and Placement Team Worksheet to Determine Eligibility for Special Education Due to Emotional Disability checklist. The checklist represents a way for the PPT to document the eligibility procedures for the condition of emotional disability. The worksheet outlines the essential elements in the Connecticut definition of ED that were described previously. This tool is designed to help the PPT document all essential elements for the determination of ED eligibility. If disagreement occurs concerning the final decision, best practice suggests that dissenting opinions be recorded in the IEP under Prior Written Notice and may be noted in the minutes of the PPT meeting.


Planning and Placement Team Worksheet
to Determine Eligibility for Special Education
Due to an Emotional Disability

Worksheet for Planning and Placement Team Determining Eligibility for Special Education Due to Emotional Disability [PDF]


Practices to Address Disproportionality in Identification
of Students with Emotional Disability

District Policies: Policies that are based on a thorough and timely analysis of data related to trends of student population, student learning, teacher quality and professional development create school systems in which all students are successful. However, in some circumstances those with limited connection to the student population for whom decisions are being made determine policy. The "punishment paradigm" (Maag, 2001) which includes zero tolerance policies, corporal punishment, suspension, and expulsion, target identification of African American students at disproportionately high rates (Skiba, 2002) and contribute to their overrepresentation in disproportionately segregated programs for emotional disability. These policies tend to exist in urban schools, which serve predominately black, and Latino students. Bearing in mind the afore-mentioned cultural incongruence, students of color may exhibit cultural behaviors that are not readily understood by the majority of their teaching staff. Collaboration between district level special and general education administrators provides another path to reducing disproportionality. By forming partnerships with general education administrators, special education leaders can play a role in developing effective intervention models designed to reduce inappropriate referrals to special education (for an example, see Klingner, Harry and Felton, 2003).

Schoolwide Considerations: "Disproportionate representation should be addressed through the creation of culturally responsive educational systems," (Klingner et al., 2005). Districts and schools that find their data are disproportionate should consider what is in place for all students. Successful learning environments most often are characterized as preventive, predictable, positive, instructional, safe and responsive for all students and staff across all school settings and activities (Sugai and Horner, 2009). Additional information on consistent and effective schoolwide environments is further addressed throughout this document and within section 4, Key Elements for Effective Individualized Programs and Services.

Classroom Level Considerations: Teachers, administrators and support staff should understand that perceptions of behavioral appropriateness are influenced by cultural expectations, that what is perceived as inappropriate varies across cultures and that behaviors occur within large socio-cultural contexts. Educators should connect with students in ways that convey respect and caring; explicitly teach rules and expected behaviors within a culture of care; provide a continuum of support; and involve families and the community in positive, mutually supportive ways (Klingner, et al. 2005). Educators should work to build bridges between home culture and the social expectations of the school environment by understanding the way in which the child interacts at home, in their communities and among their peers. This knowledge should be used to build and implement culturally responsive practices that enhance students' opportunities to learn and reduce the likelihood of underachievement and referral for special education eligibility.

Early Prevention and Intervention: The implementation of early intervening strategies using a tiered approach provides an opportunity to address the issue of disproportionality. When concerns arise about very challenging student behaviors, teachers are likely to access assistance through the school's early intervention process in which tiered and targeted interventions are implemented

and monitored for effectiveness. A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) may be conducted, the findings of which should drive the development of a BIP. To reduce disproportionality, schools and districts should examine the depth and breadth of the early intervening services (EIS), programs, strategies and supports that are available and ensure these supports are available to all students who may benefit from them (National Education Association, 2007).

Referral Process: Bias or inappropriate practice should be evaluated at every phase of the referral process that leads to special education identification. If bias or inappropriate practice is found, then disproportionality must be treated as problematic (Westat, 2004). Educators require cultural competence and skills to ensure appropriate interpretation of behavior. A broader view of student performance is also necessary to facilitate accurate perceptions of behavior resulting in appropriate referrals, interventions and placements.

Assessment Process: Concern about disproportionate representation is focused on the high incidence of special education identification in categories such as specific learning disability (SLD) and ED. One factor influencing disproportionate identification of students with ED is the tendency to exercise wide latitude in deciding who "fits" (Gottlieb, Alter, Gottlieb, and Wishner, 1994). Additionally, a major issue with regard to potential biases in the assessment process is found in the psychometric properties of the assessment measures for all racial and cultural groups. While the issue of test bias remains controversial, culturally competent administration and interpretation of the tests is crucial (Skiba, Bush, and Kensting). Typically, behavior-rating scales are used to allow for the quantification of behavior and to compare individual child behaviors to a normative reference group. However, rating scales are subjective in nature and this directly affects the reliability and validity of the instrument. Reporting biases have been documented in the literature for all reporters regardless of race or ethnicity depending on their psychological state or belief in the efficacy of services being offered. One must also consider the varied ways in which teachers may interpret specific behaviors and the function of those behaviors. Parent underreporting of symptoms may also occur for fear of stigma, a history of experiencing racial and/or other biases and a lack of trust in schools or other agencies to work in the best interest of their children.


Assessment for Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development

Once eligibility for special education services has been established, attention must shift to development of an overall plan that can meet the student's educational needs. In developing the IEP for all special education students—particularly for the student with an emotional disability whose behavior tends to evoke high levels of anxiety—it is required that goals, objectives and program characteristics be developed before specific program and education setting decisions are made. The PPT must guard against the pressure to move the student abruptly from his or her current education setting to a more restrictive setting to address a referral crisis. The team must develop goals and objectives, determine appropriate supports and services and agree on the service providers prior to addressing placement in the least restrictive educational setting.

  • Present Levels of Performance

    Assessment information collected or generated during the eligibility determination phase should contribute to developing the plan that eventually becomes the Individualized Education Program. These assessments by the multidisciplinary evaluation team should yield a profile of the student's current levels of performance, needs and strengths and the student's characteristic pattern of response to environmental and internal influences. Assessment for emotional disability will include not only information about the student's aptitude and academic achievement levels, but also information regarding (1) cultural, social and personal competence needed to maximize independence and (2) when appropriate, the student's language and communication competence and vocational aptitudes and interests. Social and personal information should lead to the identification of affective skills to be targeted in the IEP. Examples include (1) managing anger, frustration and other emotions that tend to exacerbate conflict with peers, teachers and school administrators, and (2) coping effectively with withdrawal or depression.

  • Developing Goals and Objectives

    IEP development requires that goals and objectives be written based on the student's profile and current level of performance and that the goals and objectives reflect the appropriate specialized instruction. The definition of special education found in 34 CFR Section 300.39, clarifies that special education and specialized instruction encompass more than only academic instruction. PPTs must consider all aspects of the child's functioning at school, including social/emotional, cognitive, communication, vocational and independent living skills and not limit the development of goals and objectives to academic areas. Goals and objectives in the affective domain must always be considered for the student identified with an emotional disability. Therefore, special consideration should be given to a broad range of areas such as self-esteem, conflict management, communication with others, interpersonal relationships, self-control and appropriate methods of seeking attention and assistance, when determining specialized instruction.

  • Intervention Strategies and Supports

    Intervention strategies and supports, previously and currently implemented are the next consideration in developing the student's IEP. Discussions about interventions may focus on issues such as how to redirect the student who has difficulty in self-regulation, how much re-teaching is needed or how to provide opportunities for the student to practice positive social skills in the natural environment. Assessment information that relates to effective academic activities (e.g., direct instruction techniques or cooperative learning techniques) and response to classroom characteristics (e.g., climate, classroom rules, reinforcement systems) will assist the PPT in the appropriate selection of intervention strategies. For instance, the selections may include prevention strategies designed to minimize confusion and frustration, increase predictability and/or decrease demands that interfere with a student's ability to cope. Universal, targeted or intensive interventions that have been effective in prevention and are available within the SRBI framework should be continued and/or enhanced.

  • Other Identified Supports and Services

    Assessment information about student behavioral issues related to family or community circumstances or stressors will influence the intervention selections. This information and input from parents may reveal the need for a service coordinator/liaison to facilitate communication within the school setting or outside agency, or may indicate the need for parent counseling and training to promote better understanding of the student's educational needs. Health assessments will yield information about medication routines and can influence effective monitoring of medication.

  • Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Determination

    Lastly, the PPT determines the LRE or setting in which the goals and objectives, services and interventions will be implemented. By law, schools are required to provide a FAPE in the LRE that is appropriate to the individual student's needs. A student who has a disability identified in IDEA such as ED should have the opportunity to be educated with nondisabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate. Identified students should have access to the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities or any other program that nondisabled peers would be able to access. The student should be provided with supplementary aids and services necessary to achieve educational goals if placed in a setting with nondisabled peers. While assessment information will be the basis for determining which interventions, strategies and/or services will be written into the student's IEP, along with goals and objectives, placement decisions result from consideration of:

    • student's level of current performance in all areas;
    • modifications and accommodations in general education instruction;
    • need for a BIP that considers safety issues and the teaching of new behaviors;
    • necessity for aids and supports allowing identified students to be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate;
    • removal from the general education environment only after the use of supplementary aids and services do not achieve satisfactory outcomes;
    • where on the continuum of possible placements the student should be educated; and
    • applicable laws, regulations and school board policies regarding issues such as academic credit, grading, attendance, discipline or suspension/expulsion.

Change is inevitable with students experiencing ED. Thus, the PPT should develop an IEP that is flexible to respond to these changes without requiring excessive meetings that contribute to undue delay. For example, the PPT might develop specific program modifications to be implemented when the student attains a specified criterion of performance for objectives. The modification can then be initiated without a new PPT meeting unless the modification results in a placement change. In keeping with this "open system" design, feedback from parents/guardians, teachers and other service providers should be considered during IEP development and documented appropriately.

IDEA 2006 requires that all students with disabilities, including students identified as eligible for special education and related services by virtue of an emotional disability must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with children who are not disabled. "Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the general education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily" (34 C.F.R. Section 300.114[a][2][ii]). Each child requiring special education services should be educated in the schools that he or she would attend if he or she did not require special education and related services unless the IEP requires another placement. The Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (R.C.S.A.), the CSDE and the BSE, Section 10-76d-16 (a)(1),(2) require that priority is placed on placements within the district in which the child resides and within another school district or regional school district that is near the child's home. Cooperation among districts is encouraged over placement in a private or state operated facility. The PPT should consider placement within a private facility only when all other possible public placement options have been fully explored. In addition, placement within a facility in another state shall only be considered when a suitable public or private school placement within the state of Connecticut is not available.

Behavioral characteristics are often a part of an emotional disability and may affect the provision of the same opportunities to the student with an emotional disability to be involved in work- or community-based training or experiences as their typical peers. Opportunities to be with nondisabled peers and adults need to be provided to students with ED so that they develop a repertoire of appropriate behaviors that will generalize into the adult world—postsecondary education or training, employment and community settings. In addition, many students with emotional and/or behavioral issues strive to be just like their peers and when given the opportunity to work or be out in the community they will often rise to the occasion and their behaviors will improve. While students with more severe emotional or behavioral issues should be prepared for supported education or employment settings that will provide disability specific supports and services, it is essential to the provision of effective programming and services that the PPT discuss and consider all available opportunities as they engage in transition planning for students with ED.

The steps outlined above form the basis of using assessment information and parental/student input to develop an IEP that is implemented within the least restrictive environment and should also guide the student's annual review process, transition planning or other reviews, including the redetermination of the appropriateness of a placement in a more restrictive setting.

The checklist that follows may guide teachers, parents, students and other members of the PPT in using assessment information to build an IEP.


Worksheet for Designing an Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Worksheet for Designing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) [PDF]


Ongoing Assessment of Student Performance/Progress Monitoring

To ensure the appropriate and effective implementation of a student's educational program, a systematic process for monitoring student performance on an ongoing basis should be developed. This process delineates ways in which documentation of all student outcomes written in the IEP can be gathered across all educational settings. This process also guides recommendations for program modifications and changes, monitors timelines and can assist in providing evidence for continued eligibility as a student who requires special education services.

Additionally, ongoing assessment provides for daily or weekly data collection and monitoring of student performance, revealing what does and does not work. Progress monitoring drives instructional modifications and changes in the IEP that enable students to succeed. When team members have knowledge of data describing student performance, they are better informed and able to contribute to meetings in which important decisions are made (team meetings, annual reviews, triennial reviews, etc.) Ongoing assessment and progress monitoring provides a record of student performance over a substantial period of time and enables those involved in annual and triennial reviews to make decisions that are based on a substantive data. In other words, the ongoing recording and reviewing of data informs educators about student performance with respect to the goals, objectives and timelines of the educational program. Ongoing assessment also provides the PPT with evidence as to whether the student continues to meet the eligibility criteria for special education and related services.

Those included in the administration and implementation of the educational program, such as teachers, parents, students, related services personnel and community liaisons should contribute to the ongoing monitoring of student progress. Anecdotal notes or logs of meetings and conversations that focus on student progress are also recommended.

Progress monitoring practices/activities should be designed to illustrate the success of interventions and student progress and achievement of IEP goals and objectives. Communication and documentation are essential elements in the process. The systems and processes by which educational professionals monitor and document progress vary and can best be determined by those most closely involved. For example, a group of teachers in an elementary school might schedule informal meetings where the performance of a student can be reviewed and information shared. Others might choose to employ the use of an assignment notebook, chart and/or journal whereby student work can be recorded and monitored by teachers, parents and the student. At the secondary level, regularly scheduled team planning meetings can highlight the needs and progress of specific students. Such practices and activities provide for the collection of data, the analysis of student performance and the recommendation for appropriate modifications and adjustments to interventions and the IEP.

A student's progress towards attaining his goals/objectives, as outlined in the IEP may be measured through a variety of methods such as observation, anecdotal records, permanent product, interviews and formal and informal test scores. Student outcomes (i.e., academic, social, functional, personal and behavioral) identified in the IEP are considered and progress is reported in accordance with identified timelines.

Throughout the progress monitoring process, educators should provide data to parents/families in a manner that is easily understood; engage families in ongoing communication, which focuses on their view of the student's progress. Families should be viewed as partners and participants in the progress monitoring process. Regular and ongoing assessment of student performance through frequent progress monitoring in all areas of focus will facilitate the provision of successful interventions and appropriate specialized instruction and services.

The checklist and guiding questions that follow may provide direction to teachers, parents, students and other members of the monitoring team in developing and implementing a systematic process for recording and reviewing student performance.


Checklist for Ongoing Assessment of Student Performance/Progress Monitoring

Checklist for Ongoing Assessment of Student Performance/Progress Monitoring


A Note on Functional Behavioral Assessment

PPTs are charged with developing IEPs for students who meet eligibility requirements for special education. To meet the requirements of the IDEA, when necessary, the IEP must address students' unique behavioral needs as well as their learning issues. Teams must explore the need for interventions and supports to address any student's behavior that impedes the learning of the student with a disability as well as the impact of such behavior on the learning of his or her peers. Consistent with the requirements of IDEA, teams must conduct an FBA and implement a BIP that includes positive behavioral strategies and supports.

An FBA is a problem solving process designed to address a student's behavior, when that behavior impedes the learning of the student with a disability as well as the learning of his or her peers. It is intended to guide the PPT in making data-based decisions about how to assist students, by looking beyond the observable behavior and focusing on the function or the "why" of the behavior. While IDEA advises a FBA approach to determine the function, the purpose and or the contributing factors to a student's behaviors, it does not specify techniques or strategies to be used when conducting such an assessment. There are however key elements or steps common to most FBAs:

  • Define the behavior in concrete measurable terms.
  • Collect data on possible causes (i.e., Is the behavior linked to a skill deficit? Does the behavior occur under specific conditions? Can "triggers" be identified?).
  • Analyze the data. Look for stimulus response patterns, predictors, maintaining consequences and possible "function."
  • Formulate and test a hypothesis. Can a plausible explanation of the function of the behavior be determined? What are the conditions under which the behavior is most likely to occur? Determine setting, antecedent, behavior and consequence (A-B-C).

As a tool for collecting data, the FBA assists in the investigation of the nature of specific behaviors or patterns of behavior to aid in identifying the student's underlying motivation. A FBA can be recommended by the PPT at any time in response to a concern regarding a student's behavior, as understanding the function behind a student's behavior is extremely helpful in the development or revision of a BIP.

Consent for a Functional Behavior Assessment

The use of an FBA is considered best and preferred practice in understanding behavior within the context in which it is observed and in guiding the development of relevant, effective and efficient positive behavioral interventions. In the case where an FBA is conducted as a best and preferred practice for all challenging behavior and is intended to assess the effectiveness of behavioral interventions in the school as a whole, the parental consent requirements in 34 C.F.R. Section 300.300(a) and (c), generally would not be applicable. Such an FBA would not be focused on the educational and behavioral needs of an individual child. If an FBA is used, for example, in the context of PBS as a process for understanding problem behaviors within the entire school and to improve overall student behavior in the school, it generally would not be considered an evaluation that would require parental consent, unless such consent is required from the parents of all children in the school prior to conducting such an evaluation (34 C.F.R. Section 300.300[d][1][ii]).

If however, a FBA is used to evaluate an individual child, in accordance with 34 C.F.R. Section 300.304–300.311, to assist in determining whether the child is a child with a disability and the nature and extent of special education and related services that the child needs, it is considered an evaluation under Part B. The regulation at 34 C.F.R. Section 300.15 parental consent consistent with 34 C.F.R. Section 300.300 (a) and (b) is applicable for a FBA conducted as an individual evaluation or reevaluation.

In Letter to Christiansen, 48 Individuals with Disabilities Education Law Reporter (IDELR) 161 (OSEP 2007), then-OSEP director, Alexa Posny attempted to clarify the issue, differentiating between universal and individualized FBAs: "If an FBA is used to improve overall student behavior within the school," she wrote, "it generally would not be considered an evaluation that would require parental consent, unless such consent is required from the parents of all children in the school prior to conducting such an evaluation." However, if an FBA is conducted to determine if a child has a qualifying disability or to figure out the extent of special education and related services the child requires, the FBA would qualify as an evaluation or reevaluation under the IDEA Part B and necessitate parental consent. When initiating an FBA, school teams are encouraged to review the factors under consideration before conducting an FBA to ensure you seek parental consent under the right circumstances.

In addition, the provisions under the IDEA, 34 C.F.R. Sections 300.521-300.5299(e), discipline procedures, require that when any change in the placement of a child with a disability takes place because of a violation of the code of student conduct, a determination must be made as to whether or not the behavior was a manifestation of that disability. If the team determines that the student's misconduct is a manifestation of his or her disability, the PPT must conduct an FBA and develop a BIP or, if in place prior to the infraction, the PPT must review the current BIP and modify as necessary. A FBA conducted in this situation also triggers the IDEA procedural safeguards that apply to evaluations (see Note on Manifestation Determination).

The use of an FBA should not be reserved solely for behavioral incidents that may result in disciplinary actions. Rather, this problem solving assessment should be utilized whenever a student displays behavior, which interferes with his/her learning or the learning of others.

A sample FBA is presented in section 5, Tools to Assist Planning and Placement Teams, and may be used by PPTs as a model in developing an individualized FBA.


A Note on Behavior Intervention Plans

The IDEA indicates that a BIP, based on an FBA, should be considered when developing an IEP if the student's behavior is interfering with his or her learning or the learning of others. A BIP should be reviewed at least annually and as often as necessary whenever any team member feels it is warranted.

The data collected during a FBA can be used to develop the intervention plan that should include the following key elements:

  • positive supports and strategies;
  • curriculum or program modifications;
  • supplementary aids and supports;
  • emphasis on skill development vs. controlling behavior;
  • timelines for implementation and reassessment; specific information related to the change in behavior necessary in order to meet the goal or expectation;
  • evaluation of consistency in implementation; and
  • evaluation of changes in target behavior.

A sample BIP is presented in section 5 to be used as a model from which PPTs can base the development of an individualized BIP using the information and data gathered from the FBA.