Special Education

Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides for  Behavioral Supports and Interventions - Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions

The State Education Department
The University of the State of New York
Albany, NY 12234

Office of Special Education

Quality Indicator Review and Resource Guides for Behavioral Supports and Interventions - PDF PDF Document (1.05 MB)

  1. School-Wide Positive Behavioral Systems
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Small Group Interventions (SGI) for At-Risk Students
  4. Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions (Updated May 2014)

Individualized Intensive Interventions focus on addressing the needs of students who exhibit recurring problem behaviors that are not sufficiently addressed by a school’s broader behavioral systems.  The interventions are developed for individual students, but are most effective when they work in conjunction with existing systems (i.e., positive school-wide, classroom, and small-group behavioral supports).  Individualized Intensive Interventions are designed by a comprehensive team to thoroughly analyze, address, and monitor the needs of students with these more severe or chronic behaviors, and are most often developed in the form of Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and Behavioral Intervention Plans (BIPs).

Key Question:

Does the school have a consistent effective school-wide discipline system, with sufficient allocation of resources to include an efficient system for addressing the needs of students with severe or chronic behavioral problems? (See Office of Special Education Quality Indicator on School-Wide Positive Behavioral Systems for more in-depth indicators)

Indicator: School Infrastructure

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:

There is an effective positive school-wide discipline system in place.
  • There is a school-wide system for addressing discipline that includes:
    • increasingly intensive interventions;
    • on-going assessment to determine student need for intervention; and
    • use of a data-driven problem-solving process.
  • The principal provides oversight of system, including process for implementing individualized interventions, to ensure it is being delivered as designed.
  • The principal is an active participant in planning and implementing intensive individualized interventions.
  • Adequate resources and programmatic flexibility are provided to implement individualized interventions with fidelity.
  • Access to school-based intensive interventions is rapid and efficient.
Written, school-wide discipline procedures, meeting rosters, memos, records of classroom visits, budgets, schedules ,job descriptions, plan description, IST or referral records

Component 2:  Professional Development

Staff are trained in effective intensive individual behavioral interventions.
  • Appropriate school staff are fully trained in providing intensive individual interventions.
  • Appropriate school staff are fully trained in their role in assessing the functions of student behavior.
  • Technical assistance is provided to responsible parties about components of intervention plans.
  • A system is in place to check fidelity of implementation and provide retraining as needed.
  • Staff regularly share effective practices across and within grade levels.
  • Staff are regularly acknowledged for their implementation of the program.
Attendance records, training evaluations, teacher reports, surveys, observation checklists

Key Question:

Are proactive classroom behavioral support systems in place to reduce the need for small group and individualized interventions?   (See Office of Special Education Quality Indicator on Classroom Management for more in-depth indicators)

Indicator: Behavior Management

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  Classroom Management

Effective classroom management strategies are
used in all classrooms.
  • Classroom behavioral expectations are aligned with school-wide behavioral expectations.
  • Classroom behavioral expectations are explicitly taught in all classrooms.
  • Consequences for problem behavior in the classroom are consistent with school-wide plan.
  • Students in every classroom receive a greater number of positive than negative acknowledgements.
  • Students in every classroom are engaged in meaningful academic work.
  • Routines from one classroom to the next are not in conflict.

Component 2:  Nonclassroom Behavioral Supports

Effective management strategies are used in nonclassroom settings.
  • Behavioral expectations for hallways, playgrounds, buses, cafeteria, bathrooms & other nonclassroom settings are aligned with school-wide behavioral expectations.
  • Behavioral expectations for each setting have been explicitly taught.
  • Consequences for problem behavior in these settings are consistent with school-wide plan.
  • Students receive a greater number of positive than negative acknowledgements in these settings.
  • Paraprofessionals and other staff responsible for these settings have been trained in the school-wide program.
  • Paraprofessionals and other staff responsible for these settings receive data on program implementation.

Key Question:

Does the school have a consistent, high quality system for small group intervention for at risk students? (See Office of Special Education Quality Indicator on Targeted Small Group Behavioral Interventions for more in-depth indicators.)

Indicator:  Interventions for At-Risk Students

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1:  High Quality Small Group Intervention

Evidence-based small group interventions for behaviorally at-risk students are in place.
  • There is a consistent and timely referral process in place to identify students for small group intervention.
  • A team develops, monitors, and assists with implementation of targeted interventions.
  • The team conducts monthly updates on targeted interventions, implementation and student progress.
  • Targeted strategies build on school-wide practices (e.g., use same set of school rules, teach similar expectations, use school reinforcement system).
  • School has evidence-based practices for small group interventions.
At risk criteria policies, monitors are identified, training dates, written description of secondary strategies, written action plan

Note: In regulations, FBAs and BIPs should be considered for a student with a disability when:

  • the student exhibits persistent behaviors that impede his or her learning or that of others, despite consistently implemented general school-wide or classroom-wide interventions;
  • the student’s behavior places the student or others at risk of harm or injury;
  • the CSE or CPSE is considering more restrictive programs or placements as a result of the student’s behavior; and/or
  • a student’s behavior resulting in suspensions or removals has been determined to be related to the student’s disability.
  • conducting a Functional Behavior Assessment:
  • an appropriate  consent is required through the CSE/CPSE process; and
  • information obtained through the FBA process should be documented and/or referenced in the development of the IEP.

Although the FBA and BIP process is required when appropriate for students with disabilities they may also be an excellent tool for any student with intensive behavioral concerns.

Key Question:

Do teams identify the problem behavior(s) of students with chronic difficulties in concrete, measurable terms?  Do they determine why the student engages in problem behaviors that impede learning and how the environment is related to the behavior(s)?

Indicator: Developing Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions:  Functional Behavioral Assessments

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1: FBA Team Process and Composition

FBA’s should be developed through a team process.
  • Administration understands and supports the FBA process and team decision, and allocates resources.
  • Team has understanding and sensitivity to student’s culture and community.
  • Team can articulate established problem solving process.
  • Team includes people who understand the FBA process, can conduct functional assessments, and can analyze and monitor data.
  • Team contributes to development of FBA and consists of persons who know the student across multiple settings (e.g., teachers, student, parents, support staff, administrators).
  • Team reviews and summarizes data, refines description of problem behavior, and develops BIP or other intervention.
FBA team list, FBA, survey, implementation fidelity, team interview, team notes, BIP.


Component 2: Identifying Problem Behavior

Baseline data are collected on the clearly defined behavior using multiple sources.
  • Data are collected to clearly define problem behavior using multiple sources and individuals such as referral form, attendance, anecdotal.
  • Problem behavior is defined in concrete, measurable and observable terms:  Behavior is described in sufficient detail so if a stranger sees the behavior h/s would be able to identify it.
  • Only one problem behavior is described at a time (behaviors may serve multiple functions).
  • Direct observation of the problem behavior and additional multiple sources of relevant data are collected using a variety of tools, including but not limited to:
    • anecdotal reports and behavioral referrals;
    • review of student records; and
    • interviews with the parent/s and student surveys/checklists.
  • Baseline measures are taken to determine occurrence/nonoccurrence of problem behavior across:
    • activities,
    • settings,
    • people, and
    • times of day.
  • Baseline measures include frequency, duration, intensity and/or latency (how long it takes a student to respond).
Problem behavior defined in FBA, copy of data collection tools/summary of data, progress monitoring report dates set, conducted and noted.

Component 3:  Contextual Factors:  Factors Influencing Behavior

Factors that maintain the problem behavior are identified.
  • Setting events (factors that increase the likelihood of the behavior occurring such as problems at home, on the bus, classroom activities, tasks) are identified.
  • Antecedents (people, events, activities that occur before the problem behavior) of the problem behavior are identified.
  • Consequences (events that consistently follow the problem behavior) that maintain the problem behavior are identified.
  •   Consideration is given to:
    • Medical/psychological/psychiatric diagnoses
    • Parental input
    • Cultural/ethnic factors
    • Gender
    • Developmental/maturational level

RESOURCES/TOOLS for Components 2 & 3:

Component 4:  Hypothesis and replacement behavior development

Function of the behavior and replacement behavior(s) are identified.
  • A competing behavior pathway (the relationship between setting events, antecedents, problem behavior and consequences) is developed and written.
  • A written hypothesis statement is developed as to the function the problem behavior serves for the student (e.g., avoidance, control, attention, etc.) based on that competing pathway.
  • The hypothesis is written in terms that are observable and measurable.
  • The hypothesis is tested by manipulating the setting event, antecedent and/or consequence.
  • A replacement behavior(s) (appropriate behaviors that serves the same function as the problem behavior) is identified.
  • Baseline data are collected on the replacement behavior(s).

Key Question:

Do teams develop intervention plans that are measurable, that identify and teach replacement behaviors, and include supports and proactive strategies to prevent problem behavior from occurring?

Indicator: Developing Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions:  Behavior Intervention Plan

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1: Behavior Intervention Plan

Comprehensive BIPs are developed based on the FBAs, and are implemented with fidelity.
  • The team developing the BIP consists of persons who will be involved in implementing the plan (e.g., teachers, student, parents, support staff).
  • Team uses FBA data to develop planned interventions.
  • BIP is in written form.
  • BIP includes the following components:
    • Identification of the problem behavior
    • Baseline data for identified behavior
    • Hypotheses as to why behavior occurs
    • Replacement Behaviors to be taught
    • Intervention strategies
    • Methods and frequency for data collection
    • Dates for progress monitoring
  • Individuals responsible for implementing each component of the plan are identified on BIP by name and role.
  • The plan includes explicit and direct instruction for the teaching of replacement behavior.
  • Intervention strategies are proactive and positive, designed to reduce problem behavior.  This might include necessary changes to the following:
    • Environment (e.g., physical arrangement of the room, adult patterns of behavior)
    • Schedules or routines
    • Instruction
    • Academic tasks/assignments.
  • Interventions are designed to accomplish long-term change, not just to react to immediate situations.
  • Responsibilities for BIP implementation are clearly communicated to all those involved such as: general/special education teacher, related school staff, nonteaching staff (e.g., bus driver).
  • Plan is supported by all stakeholders to include: administrator(s), teacher(s), support staff, noninstructional staff.
  • BIP interventions, data collection and monitoring begin and proceed on planned dates.
  • Contingency/crisis plan is developed as needed.
BIP linked to hypothesis, team membership/participation, BIP, plan is implemented, progress monitoring data

Component 2:  Replacement Behaviors

Behaviors are identified and taught that are intended to replace the problem behavior.
  • Replacement behaviors are selected so that they successfully serve the same function as the problem behavior.
  • Settings and conditions where replacement behaviors are expected to occur are identified.
  • Replacement behaviors are appropriate to the age of the student and the setting where the behavior is expected to be demonstrated.
  • Replacement behavior is identified as addressing either:
    • Skill deficits (a skill the student needs to learn) OR
    • Performance deficit (skill student has but doesn’t perform consistently)
  • Specific plan for teaching replacement behaviors is identified.
  • Plan clearly identifies skills that need to be taught to student.
  • Plan provides specific details regarding instruction and teaching strategies to be used.
  • Strategies to acknowledge replacement behaviors are determined.
  • Baseline frequency of replacement behavior is collected.
  • Identified staff have skills and resources needed to implement the plan.
FBA/BIP, progress monitoring data


Component 3:  Consequences

The consequences of the behavior are managed in order to increase expected behavior and decrease problem behavior.
  • Artificial and natural consequences that will increase positive and decrease problem behavior are identified.
  • Student preferences for consequences are identified.
  • Student is aware of and/or has participated in selection of natural and artificial positive/negative consequences (when appropriate).
  • Consequences are designed to accomplish long-term change, not just to react to immediate situations.
  • Frequency/intensity/duration of consequences are the least amount required to result in the desired behavior
  • Schedules for reduction/fading of consequences are noted.
  • The written plan includes this information related to student preferences for consequences.


Component 4:  Monitoring and Evaluation of Plan

A process is in place for monitoring, evaluating and modifying the plan as determined.
  • Data are collected and analyzed on an on-going basis to monitor fidelity of implementation of the plan. (Are people doing what they are supposed to be doing according to the plan?)
  • A formal progress monitoring schedule is developed for efficient collection of data to monitor the effect of the intervention in increasing replacement behavior and decreasing problem behavior.
  • BIP is revised or concluded based on progress monitoring data.
  • Process is in place to document and report the results of progress monitoring to CSE/CPSE and parent(s).
  • Results of the progress monitoring are considered in decisions to revise student’s BIP and/or IEP.
Survey, BIP, progress monitoring data


Key Question:

Is there a structure in place for supporting students with intensive needs that engages the student, family, school and community agencies?

Indicator: Developing Intensive Individualized Behavioral Interventions:  Support for Families with Intensive Needs

Quality Indicator Description/Look Fors: Comments/Evidence

Component 1: Collaborative Planning to develop cohesive supports for families

Structure is in place for student, family and community agencies to develop a collaborative plan
  • Team consists of individuals who are relevant to the life of the student (family members, members of the family support system, community service providers, agency representatives, school staff, etc.).
  • Family voice/choice is the driving force of the team process.
  • Strengths of student & family are identified and built into plan.
  • Individualized plan is developed by a collaborative team process.
  • One plan which encompasses all supports and services, out-come based and culturally competent (responsive).
  • Team persists working towards goals of plan until the desired outcome is achieved.


Regulations/ Memos

The Office of Special Education publications

Web Resources


Bruns, E. J. & Walker, J. S. (2010). The wraparound process: An overview of implementation essentialsexternal link. In E. J. Bruns & J. S. Walker (Eds.), The resource guide to wraparound. Port­land, OR: National Wraparound Initiative.  Gives an overview of the wraparound process and briefly describes 6 primary components.

Bruns, E. J., & Suter, J. C. (2010). Summary of the wraparound evidence base.external link In E. J. Bruns & J. S. Walker (Eds.), The resource guide to wraparound. Portland, OR: National Wrap­around Initiative.  Gives a good summary of the research base for wraparound procedures.

Crimmins, D., Farrell, A.F., Smith, P.W. & Bailey, A.  (2007). Positive strategies for students with behavioral problems.  Baltimore, MD:  Paul H. Brookes Co.  In-depth description of PBS principles and application in FBA/BIP process.

Crone, D.A., Hawkins, L.S. & Bergstrom, K. (2007).  Elementary and middle school settings:  A demonstration of training, implementing, and using functional behavioral assessment in 10 elementary and middle school settingsexternal link.  Journal of Positive Behavior Supports,  9(1), pp. 15–29. Describes a training structure and evaluates effectiveness in increasing team implementation and teacher knowledge of FBA/BIP.

Dunlap, G., Iovannone, R., Kincaid, D., Wilson, K., Christiansen, K., Strain, P. & English, C.  (2010).   Prevent–Teach–Reinforce:  The school-based model of individualized positive behavior support.  Baltimore, MD:  Paul H. Brookes Co.  Gives a clear, step-by-step process for completing FBAs and BIPS, starting from team formation and assessment and going through assessing fidelity of implementation.  Includes many useful, easy-to-use forms.

Freeman, R., Eber, L., Anderson, C., Irvin, L., Horner, R., Bounds, M., & Dunlap, G.  (2006).  Building inclusive school cultures using school-wide positive behavior support:  Designing effective individual support systems for students with significant disabilitiesexternal link.  Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31 (1), pp. 4–17.  Discusses PBIS in the context of supporting students with the most intense behavioral needs. Includes some case studies at elementary level. 

Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J. & Lynn, N, (2006). School-based mental health: An empirical guide for decision-makersexternal link. Tampa, FL: University of South Florida, The Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, Department of Child & Family Studies, Research and Training Center for Children’s Mental Health.  Describes general findings in research on school-based mental health programs and gives research base for some specific programs.

O’Neill, R.E., Horner, R. H., Albin, R. W., Storey, K. & Sprague, J. R. (1997).  Functional Assessment and Program Development for Problem Behavior: A Practical Handbook Edition 2.  Pacific Grove, CA:  Wadsworth Publishing Company.  Step-by-step process, with tools, for completing through FBAs and BIPs.

Salend, S. J. & Taylor, L. S. (2002). Cultural perspectives: Missing pieces in the functional assessment process. Intervention in School and Clinic, 38(2), 104-112.  Brief article on how to build cultural sensitivity into the FBA/BIP process. 

Scott, T., & Eber, L. (2003). Functional assessment and wraparound as systemic school processes: Primary, secondary, and tertiary systems examples. Journal of Positive Behavior Supports, 5, 131-143.  Somewhat dry and academic, but places FBA/BIP and Wraparound in context of school-wide systems, and describes how elements of each inform school-wide, universal systems as well as secondary and tertiary system.

Scott, T.M. & Caron, D.B. (2005).  Conceptualizing functional behavior assessment as prevention practice within positive behavior support systems.  Preventing School Failure, 50 (1), pp.   13 – 20.   Brief overview of how the tenets of FBA can be used at all three levels of PBIS system.  Discusses efficient use of resources across three tiers to meet student needs.

Skiba, R. (2004).  Zero tolerance: The assumptions and the factsexternal link.  Education Policy Briefs, 2(1). Bloomington, IN:  Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.   Brief discussion on both intended and actual outcomes of zero tolerance policies in schools.   Gives concise information that could be beneficial for use with districts when discussing suspension practices for students.

Steege, M.W. & Watson, T.S. (2008). Best practices in functional behavior assessment.  In Best Practices in School Psychology V.  Thomas, A. & Grimes, J. (Eds.).  Bethesda, MD:  NASP.  Provides an overview of the research and findings on FBAs.

Sugai, G., Horner, R.H., Dunlap, G., Hieneman, M., Lewis, T.J., Nelson, C.M., Scott, T., Liaupsin, C., Sailor, W., Turnbull, A.P., Turnbull, H.R., Wickham, D., Ruef, M., & Wilcox, B.  (1999).  Applying Positive Behavioral Support and Functional Behavioral Assessment in Schools.external link  OSEP Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support:  Technical Assistance Guide 1 Version 1.4.4.    Basic overview of what PBIS and FBA are and how they fit together.  Easy to read and has an extensive bibliography.

Van Acker, R., Boreson, L., Gabl, R.A. & Potterton, T.  (2005). Are we on the right course?  Lessons learned about current FBA/BIP practices in schools. Journal of Behavioral Education, 14(1), pp. 35-56.  Concise summary of a research study reviewing FBA/BIPs to determine if they include critical, key components.  Includes a simple checklist for reviewing FBA/BIPs.

Last Updated: June 3, 2014