Understanding Behaviors: What Is Behavioral Assessment?

What if parents and teachers alike could understand children better than ever?

A behavioral assessment provides a thorough and in-depth way to understand a child’s different behaviors. Unfortunately, many people do not understand what this kind of assessment is and what benefits it has to offer.

If you’d like to see how much of a difference behavioral assessment can make, keep reading to discover the answer!

What Is Behavioral Assessment?

We’ve prepared a solid guide to the process and benefits of this assessment. First, though, it’s important to define what behavioral assessment actually is.

On the most basic level, this assessment helps determine why someone is behaving in a certain way. In education, functional behavioral assessments help to determine why certain students are struggling. And in science, tools like the modular maze help researchers explore and understand the behaviors of mice and rats.

In an educational context, such assessments are one of the best ways that teachers and administrators can ensure that every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Who Needs This Kind of Assessment?

Now that you know what this form of assessment is, that leaves us with an obvious question: who needs this kind of assessment?

If a student is already part of any special education programs, they will receive such an assessment. And for students who already have 504 plans or IEPs, new behavioral issues can prompt a new assessment.

In certain cases, specific behaviors may require an assessment thanks to federal law. For example, student problems involving drugs, weapons, or violent threats may require assessment.

Finally, parents or teachers may request a behavioral assessment if they are worried about specific student behavior.

Discovering Disabilities

What, exactly, is the purpose of such an assessment? Broadly speaking, these assessments help to understand and true negative student behavior. More specifically, an assessment may help uncover specific disabilities that impede student success.

For example, certain students may be suffering from something more extreme such as oppositional defiant disorder. Until a child is diagnosed, parents and teachers may not be able to handle the child’s disruptive behavior in the right way.

Ultimately, the spirit of this assessment is discovery. Schools want to offer children the benefit of the doubt. If the child is regularly acting up, schools want to identify and treat the root problem instead of just dealing with the symptoms.

Different Assessment Steps

What, then, goes into a functional behavioral assessment? In most cases, these formal assessments can be broken down into four steps.

Step one is explicitly defining student behavior. It’s important to know what the student has been doing using precise language. Having more info makes an eventual diagnosis that much easier.

The next step is collecting and analyzing more information. This may range from academic records to teacher, staff, and student interviews. The purpose of this information-gathering is to determine when the disruption began, who/what makes it happen, how often it happens, and so on.

With all of the information at hand, the assessment team tries to determine the cause of disruptive behavior. Furthermore, they’ll want to know why the student thinks this behavior is beneficial.

Finally, the team recommends a behavior intervention plan. A BIP helps address issues at school, and the team may make recommendations regarding the student’s home life.

Some schools may add a fifth step which simply involves analyzing the effectiveness of the original plan after implementation.

Behavior Intervention Plan

The BIP is where “the rubber meets the road” in meeting student needs. It makes recommendations for what administrators, faculty, and staff can do to address disruptive student behaviors.

For example, the assessment team may determine that much of the disruptive behavior comes from a student feeling restless. The school may try to offer ways for a student to channel that restless energy in a positive way.

In all likelihood, the BIP is not perfect. But it is a document that formally commits school resources to address the needs of disruptive students.

Who Initiates the Assessment?

Let’s say that you may be interested in an assessment for a child or student that you know. Who, then, can actually initiate such an assessment?

The primary responsibility for initiating a functional behavioral assessment rests with the school district. And it is the district that must make sure schools follow federal guidelines regarding FBAs.

However, multiple people can make recommendations for an FBA. This can include principals, teachers, staff, nurses, or anyone on the school’s Student Assessment Team.

Finally, a child’s parents can request a formal assessment of their child’s behavior.

How Assessment Helps Teachers

You know now what an FBA is and how it works. But how do the results of these assessments help teachers in the classroom?

One obvious answer is that it helps the teacher with these specific disruptive students. Once a BIP is in place, each teacher will have a “game plan” to deal with specific student disruptions.

More broadly, though, assessment results can help teachers incorporate behavior strategies that benefit the entire classroom. And they will gain added empathy and understanding regarding why children act out. More often than not, these disruptions are a unique cry for help on the part of the student.

How Assessment Helps Parents

The assessment offers benefits to teachers in a very direct and relevant way. How, though, can assessment help the parents of these disruptive children?

The sobering reality is that the assessment is only the beginning of an ongoing plan to help the student. Therefore, assessment results help parents understand what behaviors and triggers they need to look out for and report to the school.

Assessment may also determine that certain behaviors are caused by stress around the home. If this is the case, parents may be able to create a less stressful home environment, allowing the student to perform better at school.

What Comes Next

Now you know how behavioral assessment can help children overcome obstacles and succeed. But do you know how else to help those you love to live happier and more productive lives?

We bring you the best in science news and reporting every week. To learn more about treating behavioral issues, check out our Health and Medicine section today!