Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Special Education

First Advisor

John Kregel


The presence of challenging and violent behaviors that pose risks to the overall safety and the educational learning experience in the public education setting have been on the rise in recent years. Traditional reactive, coercive, and punitive measures to address these behaviors have been futile. Congress responded to the national increase in violent behaviors by implementing several acts, including zero tolerance policies, in an effort to diminish the rise in violent behaviors. Of significance to this study was the inclusion of Functional Behavior Assessment in the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997. Unfortunately, FBA has the least legal grounding of all the disciplinary provisions of IDEA and has been questioned by experts in the field if sufficient empirical support exists for the generalization of the technology to all students and whether or not school personnel have the skills required to conduct FBA with integrity (Drasgow, Yell, Bradley, & Shriner 1999; Quinn, 2000; Scott et al., 2005; Skiba, 2002). The purpose of this research study was to obtain and analyze information regarding the perceptions of special education teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia on the use of Functional Behavior Assessment with students with high incidence disabilities in public schools. A nonexperimental survey design using an online self-report survey was conducted with special education teachers in the eight superintendent regions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The study examined the behaviors that most frequently prompt a FBA, if a relationship exists between the type and frequency of training and the perceived effectiveness of FBA, the relationship between teacher attributes of beliefs and self-efficacy and the overall perceived effectiveness of FBA, and how teachers perceive the overall FBA/BIP process in public schools. The survey was distributed electronically to special education teachers through the office of the special education director in each of the 132 school divisions in Virginia. A total of 373 special education teachers responded to the survey. Respondents perceive the extent to which FBA contributes to the effectiveness of interventions that reduce challenging behaviors of students and the effectiveness of current FBA methods in increasing positive replacement behaviors and improving learning/academic achievement in public schools moderately effective. Congruent with the literature, special education teachers reported that chronic problem behaviors and physically aggressive behaviors were most likely to prompt an FBA. Respondents indicated their knowledge base, training experiences, and background in FBA. Overall, the majority of special education teachers reported that the training that they have received in FBA was moderately to very effective. Respondents indicated that further training in all areas of FBA was needed using a dynamic team based process with post training support. The most frequently reported area of FBA that requires more training was developing function-based interventions while the least reported area of need was developing hypotheses about the functions of the behavior. Teacher beliefs and self-efficacy were examined to determine if these attributes predict a special educator’s perceived effectiveness of FBA. High levels of teacher self-efficacy were associated with increased views of perceived effectiveness of FBA in public schools. Two belief items were found to correlate with the perceived effectiveness of FBA. The results of this study have important implications for personnel development and training for future and current special educators as well as information that can be applied to the exploration of a standardized process for conducting FBA in public schools in Virginia.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2013