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7 Key Components of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans

In the realm of special education, developing Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPSs) is one of the most crucial aspects of supporting students with behavioral challenges. These comprehensive plans are designed to address problem behaviors and foster positive changes in students’ conduct. An effective BIP should be function-based, and incorporate a variety of proactive strategies to promote success. Reactive strategies, of course, are necessary in the event that they are needed! In this blog post, we will explore key concepts for crafting well-structured and data-driven BIPs to meet the unique needs of special education students.

1. Identify Target Behaviors for Reduction

The first task when creating a behavior intervention plan is to identify the specific behaviors you want to target for reduction. These behaviors should be observable, measurable, allowing for accurate tracking of progress. They should be defined objectively, so that all teachers and staff are monitoring the same behaviors to ensure accurate data collection. Finally, you may have the most success when you target 1-2 behaviors for reduction at a time. Prioritize any behaviors that are impeding the safety of the learner or those around them first, before attempting to target additional behaviors (such as those that are interfering with their learning but not necessarily a safety concern).

2. Function-Based Assessment: Understanding the Why

The foundation of any successful behavior intervention plan is a thorough understanding of the reasons behind a student’s problem behaviors. If we can figure out why they are behaving this way, we can try to implement strategies that will minimize the behaviors, and/or teach the student a more appropriate alternative behavior. We can also implement consequences that will decrease rates of behaviors over time, rather than increase them. For example, if a student engages in target behaviors to receive attention, and as a consequence to behaviors they are hearing a lengthy reprimand from staff discussion, then they are more likely to continue engaging in these target behaviors rather than stop them!

A functional behavior assessment, using tools such as Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence (ABC) data or a functional analysis, helps identify the triggers and consequences that maintain the undesirable behavior. By delving into the functions of the behavior, we can design interventions tailored to the student’s specific needs, increasing the chances of success. Click here for a FREE digital data tool for A-B-C data.

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3. Incorporating Antecedent (Proactive) Interventions

schedules 7 Key Components of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans

Antecedent interventions focus on modifying the environment or conditions before a behavior occurs, with the aim of preventing or minimizing its emergence. Strategies such as visual schedules and pre-teaching of expectations can be incredibly effective in setting the stage for positive behavior. By proactively addressing potential triggers, we create a more conducive learning environment for our students. Click to browse a variety of FREE visual schedule templates.

Keeping the function of the behaviors in mind, we can tailor these strategies to each individual learner. For example, if a child is craving attention, we can embed 5 minute “talk time” breaks throughout their daily schedule in which they can have free access to conversation with appropriate staff or peers at the time. Similarly, if a child is craving access to preferred items, such as drawing or coloring, we can incorporate non-contingent art breaks between activities or classes.

4. Teaching Replacement Skills

Behavior intervention plans should not solely concentrate on eliminating problem behaviors. Equally important is the teaching of appropriate replacement skills. By ensuring students have the necessary tools to cope with challenging situations, we empower them to make better choices and foster a positive learning experience. Click to browse an adaptive behavior skill assessment with skill protocols to systematically teach replacement behaviors.

assessment 7 Key Components of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans

These skills should be functionally equivalent to the problem behavior, providing the student with an alternative way to achieve their goals. For example, if a student is engaging in problem behaviors as a means of avoiding work completion, then a functionally equivalent skill to teach them would be to request a “break” from demands (either verbally or with picture cues, sign language, or an augmentative communication system).

5. Reinforcement-Based Strategies

Reinforcement plays a significant role in shaping behavior. Positive reinforcement involves providing rewards or incentives following the display of desirable behaviors, thereby increasing the likelihood of their recurrence. Individualized and meaningful rewards are particularly effective. Remember, what motivates one student, may not motivate another! By recognizing and reinforcing positive actions, educators can encourage students to repeat those behaviors in the future.

pref 7 Key Components of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans

To identify specific motivators, observation can be an effective tool to see what your students gravitate toward during their unstructured, free-play periods. Interviewing parents or guardians can also give you insight into your student’s preferences. If you have a student who is able to participate in a verbal discussion of their likes and dislikes, an open ended interview form could also be instrumental in gathering lists of potential reinforcers. Click here for a FREE interview form.

6. Consequence-Based Strategies

While reinforcement focuses on increasing desirable behaviors, consequence-based strategies aim to decrease undesirable behaviors. These strategies involve implementing appropriate consequences following the occurrence of problem behaviors. Consequences can be natural and logical, ensuring they are directly related to the behavior and promoting a sense of accountability. It is essential to avoid punitive measures and instead focus on learning opportunities to foster growth and development.

Consequences should be:

  • Immediate (to the extent possible, so that the learner connects the behavior to the consequence)
  • Related to the target behavior
  • Teach a skill rather than focus on arbitrary punitive measures

7. Data Collection for Monitoring Behavior Intervention Plans

To evaluate the effectiveness of a Behavior Intervention Plan, systematic data collection is crucial. Consistent data tracking allows educators to observe patterns, measure progress, and make data-driven adjustments to the plan as needed. The data should be objective, reliable, and easy to interpret. Check out this free guide to help you get started in tracking data for behavior intervention plans.

Common types of data methods utilized to monitor progress of behavior intervention plans include: frequency count, duration, interval data, or scatterplot. Collecting A-B-C data can also help ensure that the triggers or maintaining consequences to the target behaviors are consistent over time. Click to browse a bundle of varied printable data collection sheets to help you track progress over time.

behavior intervention plan data 7 Key Components of Effective Behavior Intervention Plans


Crafting Behavior Intervention Plans for special education students requires a multi-faceted and data-driven approach. By ensuring that the plan targets specific behaviors, is function-based, incorporates proactive and reactive strategies, teaches replacement skills, and employs reinforcement and consequence-based approaches, educators can create a supportive and effective learning environment. Monitoring the plan through systematic data collection ensures ongoing progress and empowers educators to make informed decisions. Through these efforts, special education students can receive the targeted support they need to thrive academically and socially.


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