Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


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Published in EDUCATION AND TREATMENT OF CHILDREN Vol. 22, No. 3, AUGUST 1999. Copyright 1999 West Virginia University Press.


The 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandate that schools evaluate, through the process of a functional behavioral assessment, those students with disabilities who are exhibiting significant behavior problems which may lead to suspension and expulsion. We conducted a statewide survey of special education administrators and school psychologists to examine their views of the relative effectiveness, usability, suitability, and practicability of functional behavioral assessment procedures for two types of problem behaviors (i.e., low-level chronic or low frequency unique problem behaviors). The results suggest that special education administrators and school psychologists are generally supportive of the use of functional behavioral assessments for a range of problem behaviors. However, administrators and psychologists are uncertain of whether such assessments would be acceptable for unique low-frequency problem behaviors that lead to suspension and expulsion such as violations of firearms and drug policies. Additionally, special education administrators and school psychologists indicated that educators might be unaware of and unwilling to conduct functional behavioral assessments. Implications for practice and future research needs are discussed.