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Behavioral Intervention Plans

A behavioral intervention plan refers to the assistance that is provided for students to develop and exhibit adaptive, socially appropriate behaviors and to diminish patterns of behavior that interfere with the learning process. It should incorporate a comprehensive set of procedures and support strategies that are selected on the basis of the individual student's needs, characteristics, and preferences. An effective behavioral support plan will change undesirable patterns of behavior, while being respectful of the student's dignity. This plan should promote the student's capabilities and enhance both the short term and long term opportunities for the student. The essential components of a behavioral support plan include multiple interventions and support strategies that are based on an individualized, functional assessment.

Components of a Behavioral Intervention Plan:

Target Behavior(s)

Identification and description of the problem behavior(s) in specific, observable terms must be included. Avoid using general or vague labels for behavior (e.g., uncooperative, aggressive). Define the behaviors(s) in such a way that others will recognize the target behavior(s) from the written description.

When a student exhibits multiple problem behaviors, it will be necessary to prioritize 1-3 behaviors to target in the Behavioral Support Plan. It is not effective to try to change too many undesirable behaviors at one time. During the functional assessment process, look for those behaviors that interfere significantly with the learning process, behaviors that pose risk to the student or others, or for those behaviors that are pivotal (i.e., that if they were to change it would have a significant impact on the student's motivation and learning).

Also include the current rate of occurrence for the target behavior. This baseline will assist you in evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention and support strategies over time.


From the functional behavioral assessment, information is gathered that assists staff in describing the relationship between the target behavior(s) and events within the environment. Specific statements should be written that theorize about the function or communicative intent of the behaviors(s). Describing when the behavior occurs and why it appears to occur is a necessary step in selecting effective interventions and support strategies. The basic assumptions underlying the assessment and Behavioral Support Plan are: 1) behavior has a purpose; 2) behavior communicates; 3) behavior is connected; and 4) one behavior can have multiple purposes.

Environmental Strategies

Included in this area of the Behavioral Support Plan are those strategies that are being put in place to structure and manipulate the environment in order to promote the student's success. Identifying the conditions in the environment (or setting) that contribute to the occurrence of the behavior will assist you in determining what modifications and strategies are necessary to try and prevent the target behaviors from occurring. Examining how the student should be supported in the school setting, routines, transitions and schedule is essential in any proactive plan. Consider some of the following environmental factors:

School Setting:

  • Location of the classroom
  • Location of individual work area
  • Storage of materials, personal belongings
  • Seating arrangements
  • Exposure to distracting stimuli
  • Size of the group
  • Level of supervision
  • Schedule represented clearly to student
  • School setting
  • Inclusion opportunities identified
  • Corresponds to IEP and LRE
  • Meets need for attention span,
  • Developmental level
  • Staff assignments
  • Advanced notice of any alterations
  • Transitions
  • Level of supervision
  • Level of independence
  • Preparation/cues needed
  • Introduction of new events
  • Incorporation of choice making
  • Clear rules/expectations
  • Management of time
  • Consistency across time/staff


  • Introduction of new events
  • Incorporation of choice making
  • Clear rules/expectations
  • Management of time
  • Consistency across time/staff
  • Routines

You should also consider ways in which the student needs support and modification in the areas of curriculum and materials. Some of the factors to examine include:

  • Curriculum/materials age-appropriateness
  • Level of difficulty
  • Concrete vs. abstract
  • Variety
  • Length of task
  • Relevance to quality of life
  • Functionality
  • Individualized

Another area of environmental manipulation to consider is the type of instructional method used with a student. Additional factors to examine are:

  • Methods/style of staff interaction
  • use of additional cues
  • specific instructions/language
  • presentation
  • learning style

If comprehensive assessment and planning are done, the environmental strategies section of most Behavioral Support Plans will include sufficient changes to the student's school experience that will help to make the problem behavior(s) irrelevant and unnecessary.

Positive programming strategies

One of the values of a Behavioral Intervention Plan is that the interventions are designed to enhance the student's competencies and access to desirable environment, activities and social circumstances. The first step is to identify an alternative appropriate behavior for the target behavior that can serve the same function that is noted in your hypothesis. To improve the probability that your interventions will be effective, you must give careful consideration in selecting this replacement behavior. You will need to consider the abilities of the student, how can the same message be communicated, how much effort will be required to use the new behavior and how will the learning environment support this new response. If the new alternative behavior requires too much effort or does not result in the same desired outcome with the same level of dependability, the student may not be motivated to make any behavioral change.

The availability and effectiveness of the motivational strategies used with the student must be determined and included in a Behavioral Support Plan. The systematic use of reinforcement is the most powerful tool in strengthening or teaching new behavior. A key to the effectiveness of any reinforcement strategy as part of a Behavioral Intervention Plan is to identify what is potentially reinforcing for the student, but also how much is presented or provided. Reinforcers must be individualized an age appropriate for the student.

Strategies that work toward instructing the student in new skills that will enable him/her to be more effective in the learning environment also need to be included. Typically, student's with problem behaviors need support in increasing communication skills, social skills, coping skills, and/or self-regulatory skills. When the student's functional skills improve, there is greater likelihood that behavior change will be maintained over time and generalize to other settings or behaviors. Remember that to teach these skills it may be necessary to use a variety of methods (e.g., prompting, shaping, task analysis). Specify these procedures or methods in the Behavioral Intervention Plan.

Reaction strategies

It is possible that the target behavior will still occur occasionally while the student is learning the new alternative behavior as well as the other new skills being developed. It is important that the staff response or reaction to the problem behavior emphasize situational management and not punishment. The strategies that will support a change in the student's behavior have already been put in place with the environmental and positive programming procedures included in the plan. Therefore, our main concern can now be how to safely mange the student in the situation when the behavior occurs. The strategies included in the plan will be used to support the student in following the Student Code of Conduct.

There are effective redirection or de-escalation procedures that may need to be included in the Behavioral Support Plan. In general, it is most effective to intervene with problem behaviors at their onset. Use effective redirection early before the student's behavior can escalate. Look for early signals of agitation and /or a chain of behaviors that generally occur in succession.

In some situations, it may be decided that a specific consequence is appropriate. Consequences should be carefully selected to make sure that the hypothesized function of the target behavior is not inadvertently reinforced by the selected consequence. Staff should take caution that consequences do not become equated with punishment. Note: any consequence that removes the student from the current educational placement must be documented. Discontinuing educational services as specified in the IEP for longer than 10 cumulative days in a school year is considered a change in placement.

When the student's behavior involves a risk to the student or others, a crisis management plan needs to be included. This must specify what immediate steps the staff will take to provide for the safety of the student and others until the situation is de-escalated. It is recommended that team intervention techniques be used.


A Behavioral Intervention Plan is a multi-element plan that addresses the individual needs of the student. It should contain both proactive support strategies and intervention strategies to assist the student in learning new skills. The most effective plans will be those that are based on the Functional Behavioral Assessment process. The developed plan, including goals and objectives, must be added to the student's IEP through a case conference. Remember that the assessment of a student's behavior is ongoing and that the Behavioral Intervention Plan may require modification.

Four Basic Assumptions About Behavior

  1. Behavior has a purpose / serves a specific function
  1. Behavior communicates
  1. Behavior is connected
  1. One Behavior, multiple purposes

Describing Behavior

Describe Behavior in Observable Terms

Use General Terms

Give Observable Examples

Reaction Strategies

Redirection and De-escalation

Identify effective staff responses for when the problem behavior occurs that attempt to redirect the student or de-escalate the situation.

Sample strategies that could effectively redirect the student:

Sample strategies that could effectively de-escalate the situation:


Identify individualized consequences that will be implemented when problem behavior occurs. Consider consequences that reduce the likelihood that the student's desired outcome will be achieved.

Consequences should:

Benefits of Consequences;

Academic v. Behavior Problems

Comparison of Procedures to Remediate Chronic Academic and Behavior Problems
Chronic Academic Problems
Chronic Behavior Problems

Identify the error pattern or misrule.

Identify the functional relationship between behavior and environment.

Identify the skill, concept, rule, operation or form of knowledge to be practiced.

Identify expected or acceptable behaviors.

Modify examples and presentation and allow practice of the correct skill with less opportunity to practice the misrule.

Modify environment to allow practice of expected behaviors and remove stimuli that are likely to cause the inappropriate behavior

Provide various forms of feedback so that more accurate responses are strongly reinforced

Provide a variety of preferred rewards so that correct responding is reinforced.

Continue to shape skill towards target, provide review and integrate with other skills.

Move towards generalization and maintenance in restrictive environment.

What is the Purpose of the Behavior?

Questions to ask for a student who is seeking ATTENTION
Questions to ask for a student who is seeking to AVOID
Questions to ask for a student who is seeking CONTROL:


Logical Consequences
Arbitrary Consequences

Arbitrary consequences are imposed by another person (adult authority) and do not necessarily relate to the misbehavior or the current situation. Examples include:

Natural Consequences

Natural Consequences occur without intervention by another person.

Examples include:

Direct disciplinary action that denies a student access to meals or specials classes is not allowable by Federal Law and SBCSC Policies and Procedures.

Environmental Strategies

Modifications/strategies that will support the student with setting, routines, schedule, transitions.

Sample strategies that could support the student with the school setting:
Sample strategies that could support the student with school routines:
Sample strategies that could support the student with the schedule:
Sample strategies that could support the student with transitions:
Sample strategies that could support the student with the curriculum and or materials:

Evaluating Data

Evaluating Behavioral Intervention Plans through Data Collection

Data collection involves the objective measurement of behavior over time. These measures are required in order to choose effective strategies and interventions for changing problem behavior. Data can indicate if, when, and how much change is occurring. The more detailed and frequent the data collection, the more reliable your judgments.

When analyzing student data to determine effectiveness of the Behavioral Intervention Plan the following issues need to be considered:

The formality of data collection to review the effectiveness of the Behavioral Intervention Plan does not need to go on indefinitely. If the staff, parents and student feel some satisfaction that meaningful improvement is being seen in both the target behaviors and in the development of new skills, periodic data collection can provide enough information to monitor progress on the behavioral objectives included in the IEP.

Positive Programming Strategies

Sample strategies that could teach appropriate alternative behavior or other functional skills:

Crisis Management

Sample strategies that could be included in crisis management procedures:

*SBCSC has staff certified to provide Crisis Prevention Institute training. Please contact Special Education Services (283-8130) to get more information about training your building's Crisis Team.