Functional behavior assessments and behavioral intervention plans: A school social work perspective

Date of Completion

January 2010


Social Work|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




The number of students in public schools with severe, disruptive, and persistent problem behaviors is growing at an alarming rate. An evidence-based process, the functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and behavioral intervention plan (BIP) has proven effective in reducing or eliminating severe problem behaviors that create barriers to learning. School social workers have historically played an important role in assisting students to remove barriers that impede their ability to make educational progress, yet there has been insufficient research conducted about school social workers' use of the FBA/BIP or their perceptions of this promising process. ^ This study represents the first effort that explores the extent to which school social workers in the State of Connecticut use the FBA/BIP to help students reduce or eliminate problem behaviors and to promote appropriate school behavior. Survey research was conducted to examine school social workers' perceptions of the FBA/BIP as an effective and practical process and to determine the extent to which school social workers perceive that they conduct the FBA/BIP with fidelity. Robert K. Merton's strain theory provides the conceptual framework to understand the ways that school social workers have adapted the FBA/BIP in their practices. ^