Functional Assessment Team Meetings

Why is it important to use a team process to conduct a functional assessment?

The active involvement of the student, teachers, parents, and other individuals from the school and community during the functional assessment process helps to ensure that the information gathered will take into account:

  • the strengths and needs of the student,
  • accurate information about student's environment, and
  • the perspectives of the people who will be implementing any future interventions.

Who should be on the functional assessment team?

The student's team will vary depending upon a number of variables including the level of complexity of the problem behavior, the number of school personnel involved, and the participation of family and community members. Team members should include the student, individuals who will be implementing the PBS plan, family members, and people who know the student well. Every team should include a person who has experience implementing functional assessments and is familiar with the principles of behavior. 

What are the critical features of an effective team?

There are a number of critical features that are present in effective teams. These features include: 

  • a vision statement,
  • ground rules for team meetings,
  • team roles,
  • agendas and meeting minutes,
  • data based decision making, and
  • dialogue and team collaboration.

Vision Statement One strategy for ensuring that team members are all working towards the same common goal is to create a group vision statement. The vision statement helps a team identify and work towards an ideal outcome for the student. A vision statement may be that the student will have the opportunity to attend school within his own community and learn in a safe and inclusive setting. Creating a vision statement can be an important way to develop a collaborative atmosphere as team members share their hopes and dreams for the student. 

Ground Rules For Team Meetings Identifying group expectations that describe how everyone will participate in team meetings can result in better outcomes and create a more positive atmosphere. Examples of common ground rules include:

  • attending meetings faithfully,
  • being present throughout team meetings,
  • letting every person have a chance to speak,
  • giving everyone a chance to finish their statements without interruption, and
  • creating a sign the facilitator can use to gain the team's attention when people are off-task.

Team Roles Responsibilities for running effective meetings are shared across team members and often include common roles:

  1. A Facilitator guides the team by following a meeting agenda, encouraging everyone on the team to speak, and clarifying what is said by paraphrasing and summarizing what has been said. The facilitator redirects the team when off task behaviors occur.
  2. A Time Keeper assists in establishing the length of time for each topic and alerts the facilitator when it is time to address the next agenda item.
  3. The Record Keeper reviews the actions that are identified to make sure everyone understands what they are responsible for completing and sends meeting minutes to team members promptly at the end of the meeting.

Agendas and Meeting Minutes Agendas outline the topic areas to be discussed at the upcoming meeting. Agendas can include information about the amount of time that will be spent discussing each issue that the team must address. Meeting minutes should include a statement of the action to be taken, the person responsible for completing the action, and a date for its expected completion. It is important to distribute the meeting minutes as quickly as possible after the meeting has been completed. This confirms that each person understands what he or she is expected to do before the next meeting. 

Data-Based Decision Making Direct observation data is an important part of the functional assessment process because it will be used to support the team's hypothesis statement about the function maintaining the student's problem behavior. The data that is collected during the functional assessment should be reviewed at each meeting to develop and confirm the hypothesis statement(s). The meeting minutes should document which team member will be bringing data to the next meeting and include meeting days when data will be reviewed.

Why is it important to collect meeting minutes during the functional assessment process?

Meeting minutes are an important tool for making sure everyone knows what they are responsible for during the functional assessment process and when they need to complete each activity. Without meeting minutes, it is common for tasks to be forgotten, for team members to forget what they were responsible for completing, and for the length of the time needed to complete a functional assessment to increase.

Where can I find more information about facilitating team meetings?

Cathcart, R. S., Samovar, L. A., & Henman, L.
D. (1996). Small group communication: Theory
and practice (7th ed.). Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark
Fisher, R., & Ury, W. (1981). Getting to yes:
Negotiating agreement without giving in (2nd ed.).
NY: Penguin Books.
Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, F. P. (1991). Joining
together: Group theory and group skills (4th ed.).
Boston: Allyn Bacon.
Rindone, N. K. (1996, May). Effective Teaming for
Success. Presented at the workshop for Kansas
State Department of Education, Division of Student Support
Services, Boots Adams Alumni Center, University of Kansas,
Lawrence, Kansas.
Snell, M. E., & Janey, R. (2000). Teachers'
guides to inclusive practices: Collaborative teaming
(pp.62-73). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.