Using functional behavior assessment in general education settings: Making a case for effectiveness and efficiency

Terrance M. Scott, Anne Bucalos, Carl Liaupsin, C. Michael Nelson, Kristine Jolivette, Lise DeShea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Under the 1997 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools have a legal obligation to conduct functional behavior assessments (FBAs) when developing intervention plans for students with disabilities whose behaviors lead their individualized education program teams to consider a change in educational placement, including suspension and expulsion. However, FBA also holds significant promise as a procedure to be used proactively with students with behavioral challenges who are educated in part, or wholly, in general education classrooms. Unfortunately, current conceptualizations of FBA as a methodologically rigorous procedure pose significant and possibly insurmountable barriers to proactive implementation in general education settings. The authors analyze these barriers through a targeted review of the literature, an examination of how the characteristics of general education settings promote the use of less demanding FBA methodologies, and a consideration of situations in which certain FBA procedures generally are contraindicated. Finally, they advocate an active research agenda that is responsive to the particular challenges of public school settings and FBA students with and at risk for mild disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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