FBA: Functional Behavior Assessment

An FBA is an assessment of a child’s behavior in school. It is a tool to identify the underlying reasons why they act out and the first step in finding solutions. 

Who does it?

It should be led by a professional like a school psychologist or behavior specialist. But the teachers, parents and other specialists (like therapists) will give their feedback.

What does it look at?

An FBA is not a specific test. It is an exploration of a child’s problem behaviors, what may be causing or leading up to them, and what kinds of strategies help to minimize them. An FBA should also look at positive behaviors to see what encourages them!

The evaluators will look at these things


  • What are the behaviors that are having a negative impact?
  • When do they happen? In what settings or situations?
  • What are the underlying reasons for them?
  • What positive behaviors can we teach and encourage?
  • What strategies can encourage the healthier behaviors?

They will talk to the parents or caregivers also to get your thoughts and see if there is anything going on at home that may be easing or contributing to what’s happening in school.

How can I request one?

  • If you have concerns about your child’s behavior, you have the right to request an FBA. You can ask for this if your child already has an IEP or not.
  • Ask the teacher (or IEP team) to plan an assessment. Put it in writing, with a date, and keep a copy for yourself. Send it to the teacher and the district’s special education department. 
  • If you have trouble, send a copy of the request to the school district’s office of Special Education. Sometimes this is called Exceptional Student Services.

What’s next?


  • After the FBA is done, they should send you a copy.
  • It will have recommendations on what you and the school can do.
  • Set up a team meeting to see if you need to make changes or additions to the IEP, or write up a Behavior Plan. (Sometimes called a BIP: Behavior Intervention Plan. See next page.)

Learn more:


Sources: Understood, IDEA Partnership, West Ada School District