Common Functional Assessment
Questions Answered:

  • What is a functional assessment?

    A functional behavior assessment is an analysis of an individual student’s demonstrated behaviors and their purpose and triggers to determine the most effective proactive interventions in supporting that student’s unique behavioral needs. Functional assessments can be conducted informally at varying levels of intervention through an analysis of student behavior data and conversations with a student’s parent and teachers. More formal behavioral assessments are conducted as part of intensive interventions and supports and are guided by research-based protocols in order to obtain accurate, meaningful data.

    When conducted as a Tier 3 PBIS or RtI intervention, particularly on the path toward evaluation for special education services, a trained staff member, often a social worker or an experienced, interventionist, analyzes a student’s behavior data from sources like Kickboard and behavior tracker graphs and conducts interviews with the student, parent, teachers, and other staff members to determine the most frequent student misbehaviors and the causes of those behaviors. The results of the assessment then inform the creation of an intervention plan that minimizes the student’s triggers through adjustments to environment and proactively addresses misbehaviors through implementation of positive behavior supports and preferred reinforcers.

    To ensure faithful implementation and determine effectiveness, all stakeholders should meet to review both the functional assessment and intervention plan and be trained on how to collect implementation data. Clear communication about target behaviors, recommended methods for correcting misbehavior, student preferred incentives and rewards, and use of data trackers helps to build investment in and faithful execution of the plan across all components of a student's day. Kickboard’s behavior intervention plan feature is an excellent way to track both a student’s undesired and replacement behaviors and analyze trends in the student’s behavior over various settings and time periods.

  • What outcomes can I expect from a functional behavior analysis?

    A functional behavior analysis provides a wealth of helpful information for those who are responsible for a student’s behavioral development.  An FBA looks beyond the behavior itself and uncovers the environmental factors that produce the behavior, such as anxiety caused by large group settings or noise, verbal redirections that cause fear or embarrassment, unstructured times like transitions, length of schedule, etc. They also determine the purpose of the exhibited behavior, like work avoidance, attention seeking, or peer approval. Through the data collection and interview process, a more nuanced understanding of a student’s behavior is reached so that a proactive, effective plan can be created that addresses that student’s unique needs.

    While functional behavior assessments can produce valuable information, they are only as useful as the intervention plan they help to create. Many teachers and parents often hope for a fix-all once the process is completed; however, an FBA is just the beginning of the process and to see any meaningful change in student behavior all stakeholders must have a deep knowledge of the assessment results and implement the subsequent plan with fidelity. Since these plans are used as supports for students who exhibit significant behaviors, they can be expected to be successful most of the time with natural regressions of behavior or periods of ineffectiveness.  

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"Kickboard has made a huge difference. We reduced disciplines by 44% in just 18 weeks. If I go to another campus and come back to ours, I can see and hear the difference. It’s so positive here and that’s changing the culture of our school. This not only improves students’ behavior but it improves their academic performance as well."

– Kasie Jackson, Assistant Principal - Dallas ISD

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