Baseline Data on Challenging Behavior


Once the challenging behavior has been selected for the BIP (PBS) in observable and objective terms, the school-based intervention and/or IEP team must establish baseline data on the identified behavior. The strength of these challenging behaviors (e.g., intensity, frequency, duration) as well as when and where they occur,  utilizing a variety of observational techniques provides objective data to guide the development and measurement of subsequent BIP (PBS) effectiveness. The data collection method and observation tools depends on the identified challenging behavior.


For example, over a week, the designated observer could record the number of aggressive and defiant behavior and find the daily average. This would quantify the scope of the problem for others, such as students, parents, teachers, administrators, school-based intervention and/or IEP teams. The following observation form and subsequent chart can assist in this endeavor, with or without modifications. Also, by noting those subjects, tasks, and/or activities where the targeted behavior occurs and doesn't occur, you can begin to hypothesize on the antecedent causes of the challenging behavior and perhaps those antecedent events, which limit its occurrences for future interventions:


(Identify) Challenging Behavior Occurs (+) or Doesn't Occur (-) During Selected Interval (e.g., subjects, tasks, activities)

Student's Name:                                                                                                               Date:
Identify subject, tasks, &/or activities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


For example, once the baseline data was collected, subsequent changes in challenging behavior could be tracked and attributed to the effectiveness of interventions, as a graph like the following would reflect:




In addition to collecting data on the identified studentís challenging behavior, we may want to collect data on incompatible pro-social behavior. We could use a chart like the following, with or without modifications, to conduct formal observations and:

  1. Record the occurrence of the challenging behaviors at predetermined units of time, in various subjects, periods, activities, times, &/or assigned tasks.
  2. Find the average challenging &/or incompatible incompatible pro social behavior for each student in a class.
  3. Determine where the challenging behaviors are the greatest (e.g., periods, subjects, times, tasks, activities, etc.) and with which students &/or adults.
  4. Determine where challenging and incompatible incompatible pro social behaviors exist to help determine future interventions.
  5. Identify weaknesses, which could be documented in the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) section of the IEP, and the possible goals of school-based interventions or special education programs and services (e.g., PBS, goals, related services, supplementary aids and services, etc.).
  6. Summarized at predetermined intervals to monitor and provide feedback to stakeholders on the success of the student in achieving goals, such as increasing engaged learning and achievement.


Daily Chart to Measure Challenging and Pro-social Behaviors

Student's Name: ________________________________________________________  Date: ____________________________
Time Subject Activity Off-Task Behavior On-Task Behavior

Off-Task Behavior -

Off-Task Motor (OTM) - Instead of working on assigned task, the student is out of seat, constant and noticeable fidgeting, playing with objects (e.g. pencil, toys, etc.) and/or other children, making inappropriate gestures, acting silly, hitting, biting, or throwing things, fighting with others, etc. 

b. Off-task verbal (OTV) - Instead of working on assigned task, the student is calling out, talking to someone when prohibited, making noises, etc. and

c. Off-task passive (OTP) - Instead of working on assigned task, the student is looking around, daydreaming, looking out window, skipping school, coming to class late, delaying starting assigned task, etc.

On-Task Behavior -

a. Looking at teacher when giving lesson, directions and/or instructions (L);

b. Participating in class discussion (P);

c. Working on seat work (S);

d. Working cooperatively on cooperative project (C).  


Example - The data collected from the above charts, including the the criteria for off-task behavior,  and an array of other measuring techniques can assist in the recording and observing off-task behavior. In the following chart we illustrated measuring on task and off task behavior for thirty 10-second intervals equally spread out over five major subjects &/or types of assigned tasks:





Based on the data in the above chart, 15 off-task observations were noted during 30 observations, which equals 50% off task. We arrive at a % for off task and on task behavior by dividing the number of "+" and "-" signs by the number of intervals. When we analyze this data further, we see that most of the off task behavior occurred during reading and social studies. Based on our data collection system, we could further analyze these observations by the types of tasks that were assigned to better understand the functional relationships between the task requirements and on task and off task behavior. This analysis could help us differentiate whether the off task behavior was due to a skill deficit or performance deficit. Clearly, if it's a skill deficit we would need to teach the student those skills &/or provide curriculum or instructional modifications. On the other hand, if it's a performance deficit we will probably need to rearrange the environment contingencies that are reinforcing off task &/or on task behaviors. In most cases, interventions will involve a combination of these factors.


Similar observational forms can be utilized for aggressive and defiant behaviors:


Daily Chart to Monitor Aggressive &/or Defiant Behavior and Pro Social Replacement Behavior

Student's Name: ____________________________________________________________  Date: _____________________
Aggressive &/or Defiant Behavior Pro Social Replacement Behavior Subject, period, task, activity, etc. Beginning Time Ending Time


Next Step

After establishing baseline data on the identified challenging behavior, the school-based intervention or IEP team needs to develop an intervention plan to address the targeted behavior and meet the student's needs.