Understanding the Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) Process for an IEP

School is an incredibly different environment than home, and it’s challenging for kids to manage their behaviors in an unfamiliar place. Teachers might see behaviors in the classroom that you don’t see at home. When those behaviors begin to interfere with your child’s everyday learning, they could warrant some help from the school.

That’s where the behavior intervention plan (BIP) comes into play. This document acts as an agreement between the school, the child’s teacher(s), and the child’s parents or guardians regarding difficult behaviors and a plan to help your child be successful at school. 

In this guide, I’ve compiled an overview of everything you need to know about a BIP, including what information you’ll find in it and how it relates to the IEP.

Understanding the Behavior Intervention Plan 

  • What Is a Behavior Intervention Plan?
  • Who Qualifies for a Behavior Intervention Plan?
  • The Development of a Behavior Intervention Plan
  • What Is Included in a Behavior Intervention Plan?
  • Examples of Behavioral Interventions
  • How a Behavior Intervention Plan Works
  • Behavior Intervention Plan Outcomes
  • Steps Toward a Successful Behavior Intervention Plan

What Is a Behavior Intervention Plan?

A behavior intervention plan outlines clear and detailed interventions and services to improve a child’s behavior in the classroom. BIPs are created when a child’s behavior interferes with their learning ability. The main goal of a BIP is to teach positive behavior strategies and reinforce desired behaviors, hence why it’s sometimes called a positive behavior intervention plan.

A BIP will look different for each student, as behaviors vary significantly among children. A child’s BIP targets their behaviors, specifically, using approaches that teachers and parents believe will work for that child to improve behavior.

Who Qualifies for a Behavior Intervention Plan?

Students with or without an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan can qualify for a BIP, although typically if a student qualifies for a behavior plan they most likely will need additional support that an IEP or 504 plan can offer.

Students who already have an IEP will have the BIP attached to the IEP. In this case, the BIP becomes a legal document within the IEP that the school must adhere to. When the IEP team meets to discuss the IEP, they can determine whether a BIP is necessary for the child. If a BIP is determined to be necessary a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) must first be completed. The FBA will help the team determine target behaviors, antecedents, consequence strategies, and other intervention supports that will be helpful. After all the important information is collected the team will take that information and create the BIP. 

The Development of a Behavior Intervention Plan

To decide whether a child needs a BIP, the school โ€” or, if a child has an IEP, the IEP team โ€”  must conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). The FBA is a tool that helps the school see what triggers problem behaviors and what helps curb those behaviors. The FBA also provides insight on whether behaviors are or are not related to a child’s disability if they have one.

What Is Included in a Behavior Intervention Plan?

A BIP includes detailed information about a child’s behaviors that interfere with the classroom or their learning. More specifically, the BIP outlines the following three areas:

Explanation of Behaviors

Following observations for an FBA, the school should define the exact behaviors, known as target behaviors, the BIP should address. The BIP outlines these behaviors, specifying what the child does and how it impedes their learning or the overall classroom environment.

The observer will collect data to determine a baseline for the target behaviors. This information will be used to create goals around the target behaviors.

Causes of Behaviors

Observers also note what triggers, also known as the antecedent, the target behaviors. They’ll look for an action or series of events that usually leads to the target behavior. 

For example, consider a child who falls asleep at their desk around 9 a.m. three or four days a week. After speaking with the child each time, the teacher notices that on most of these days, the child says they got home late from the babysitter’s house the night before after their mom worked. In this case, the teacher explains that the child’s lack of sleep contributes to this particular behavior about 90% of the time.

Behavioral Interventions

Once a teacher or specialist defines the behaviors and what triggers them, the team discusses the intervention strategies that will work best for those behaviors. A teacher may have already tried a few interventions that helped the child in the classroom, so the team may elect to add those strategies to the BIP. But they can also incorporate additional interventions that they believe the child will respond to.

This section also explains specific goals for the child’s behavior and how, exactly, teachers or specialists will implement the interventions to address those goals.

Examples of Behavioral Interventions

The behavioral interventions included in a child’s BIP depend on the exact behaviors displayed in the classroom. For instance, the interventions used for students who display work avoidance behaviors will differ from those who display frequent talking out behaviors. 

The following are examples of behavioral interventions you might find in a BIP:

Instructional Accommodations 

Most teachers’ first intervention is an instructional accommodation that changes something in the classroom environment to help a student with behavior struggles. For instance, a student who gets distracted easily might benefit from having their desk moved closer to the teacher and being in a classroom with minimal visual and auditory stimuli.

Teachers might also modify their instructional methods for a student with a BIP. Giving clear and concise instructions, offering choices, and providing increased one-on-one instruction.

Visual Cuing 

Visual cues are pictures, objects, or written words that offer instructions, reminders, or task lists. When a problem behavior occurs, or a child needs a reminder to stay on task, the teacher presents a visual cue to trigger a response.

An example of a visual cue would be the teacher holding up a card showing a picture of eyes, an ear, and a mouth. This card can remind a child that it’s time to look at the teacher, actively listen, and stay quiet. 

School Counseling

Interventions in the classroom may require additional support from a school counselor. School counselors can meet one-on-one with a student when needed, when classroom strategies aren’t successful, or it’s clear the student needs a break from the classroom.

During their time with the school counselor, the child reflects on and talks about their behavior. The counselor may offer behavior management suggestions, provide positive reinforcement, and off self-regulation tools.

Positive Reinforcement

A BIP also includes space for positive reinforcement. The ultimate goal of a BIP is to increase appropriate behaviors and, therefore, decreasing problem behaviors. Positive reinforcement is the best tool to increase positive behaviors. Teachers offer positive reinforcement through verbal praise, material rewards, and special privileges. They may also use fun games and activities to reward students. Providing sensory reinforcement by dimming lights or playing music can also reinforce positive behaviors with sensory-seeking students.

How a Behavior Intervention Plan Works

Once a BIP is in place, the child’s teachers and specialists will continue monitoring behaviors and using the BIP’s outlined intervention strategies. The case manager will be responsible for collecting and monitoring behavior data to determine whether the interventions outlined are being implemented with fidelity and the student is showing a decrease in problem behaviors.

If the data shows that the strategies outlined in the BIP are not working, the team will meet to revise the BIP. The parents or guardians and BIP team should meet regularly to ensure that the current plan meets the child’s needs, as behaviors can change frequently.

Behavior Intervention Plan Outcomes

It’s important to understand that a BIP doesn’t ensure that a child will never have a behavioral problem in the classroom. 

The BIP is simply a formal document that attempts to replace problem behaviors using data and research based interventions. However, the BIP team can not predict which interventions will definitely work and which ones won’t. It could take some trial-and-error to create a behavior intervention plan that works with a student.

As a parent or guardian, stay in communication with the team. Follow up with your child’s teachers to check on progress. Ask to meet again with the team, if necessary, to discuss different strategies to improve behaviors.

Steps Toward a Successful Behavior Intervention Plan

If your child is on an IEP and experiences behavioral problems at school, ask the team about incorporating a behavior intervention plan, too. You and the team can choose behavioral interventions to promote more positive behaviors based on your child’s response. 

Ask the school about conducting an FBA if your child has frequent behaviors that disrupt their learning or the learning of others in the classroom.

What are your thoughts on the BIP process after reading this guide? I’ll try my best to answer any questions you still might have โ€” leave a comment or shoot me an email!

About the author

Emily Cummings

I am a mom of two crazy, amazing, independent, little feminists. They bring so much light to my life and a lot less sleep. Since becoming a mother and increasingly in the last year, I have witnessed parents struggling to connect with their child's special education team with no success. I have become more aware of the gaps in our public school system and how parents may benefit from empowerment and advocacy tools.

My work experiences range from a juvenile detention center to an autism specialist in the Issaquah School District and a special education teacher in a self-contained program in the Lake Washington School District. My master's in teaching focused on special education and behavioral disorders from Seattle Pacific University. I completed my BCBA coursework from Montana State University.

Want to get in touch?

I'm happy to help however I can. Email me at hello at behaviorist .com.

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