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Special Education Best Practice Checklists

The constantly evolving field of special ed requires dedication, compassion, and expertise from special education best practice checklists.

As the needs of diverse learners continue to grow and change, it is essential that educators have access to up-to-date best practices and strategies to ensure the success and well-being of students with disabilities.

With this in mind, the use of checklists has become a valuable tool for ensuring that special education practices are in line with current research and standards.

These checklists serve as a guide for educators to assess their practices, identify areas for improvement, and implement evidence-based strategies in their classrooms.

Utilize best practice checklists in special education to improve teaching and learning for students with disabilities.

This includes the key components for some of the foundations of special ed.

By utilizing best practices, special education professionals can ensure that their teaching aligns with best practices.

Ultimately this leads to improved outcomes for students and a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.

Special Education Best Practice for Behavior Contracts

Craft a Goal

Craft a positively framed goal reflecting the behavior that requires improvement, incorporating the student’s first name.

Define Clear Expectations

Clearly delineate specific behaviors expected from the student, offering them a chance to discuss and ensure comprehension. Ensure fairness, age-appropriateness, and alignment with school policies.

Identify Rewards

Specify the rewards the student will earn for fulfilling behavior contract expectations. Explore effective incentives through student interviews or a provided list for selection.

Outline Consequences

Establish consequences for breaching the behavior contract, directly linked to the targeted behavior. Involve the student and caregivers in determining these consequences.

Execute the Contract

Select a start date for the contract, ensuring all necessary supports are in place. Regularly review expectations with the student and designate a time for reward delivery upon compliance.

Monitor and Assess

Regularly assess the contract’s effectiveness, initially weekly, making adjustments as necessary. Identify stakeholders responsible for reviewing expectations and contract effectiveness. Determine the duration (typically a month) of sustained behavior required for contract completion and discontinuation.

Special Education Best Practice for a Behavior intervention Plan – BIP

Formulate a Behavior Hypothesis

Utilizing data from the FBA, construct a hypothesis concerning the behavior of concern. Detail the observed triggers, specify the behavior in question, and elucidate the perceived function of said behavior.

Define Replacement Behaviors

Elaborate on each concerning behavior and propose corresponding replacement behaviors. Provide strategies, tools, and supportive individuals integral to teaching, implementing, and monitoring these replacements.

Outline Proactive Measures

Detail proactive actions and support strategies aimed at aiding the student. Incorporate visual aids, environmental adjustments, and personnel involved in executing the plan.

Establish Incentives and Reinforcements

Employ incentives and rewards to foster positive behavior. Engage the student in determining desired reinforcements and implement a clear system for earning and tracking incentives.

Catalog De-escalation Techniques

Document de-escalation strategies derived from the FBA to mitigate concerning behaviors. This encompasses activities, interventions, and adult support.

Record Data

Designate a data collection tool for monitoring progress. Specify the frequency of data collection (daily, weekly, monthly), reporting (weekly, monthly, quarterly, semesterly), and assign responsibility to staff members for documentation.

Develop a Crisis Plan

Assess if the student necessitates a crisis plan to uphold the safety of themselves and others.

Special Education Best Practice for Crisis Plans


Assess Student Needs

Convene with the student’s team to determine the necessity of a safety crisis plan. Justifications may include self-harm, harm to others, recent hospital discharge, transition difficulties, medical concerns, etc.

Define Crisis Characteristics

Describe crisis behaviors comprehensively, integrating perspectives from both the student and adults involved, to clearly delineate the situation.

Identify Triggers

Enumerate potential triggers, encompassing events or changes preceding a crisis, along with early warning signs displayed by the student.

Secure Information Release

Obtain a release of information from medical providers if the student is under their care, facilitating necessary discussions within the school setting while upholding privacy protocols.

Provide Contact Information

Supply updated contact details for key individuals to reach during a crisis, such as legal guardians, medical professionals, service providers, and special education staff, ensuring clarity with names and phone numbers.

Outline Immediate Actions

Specify immediate crisis response actions, including de-escalation strategies and previously effective interventions.

Document Medications

If applicable, document all prescribed medications, detailing dosage and administration times, for reference in medical emergencies.

Special Education Best Practices for FBAs


Obtain Written Consent

Prior to commencing any aspect of the FBA, secure written consent from the student’s legal guardian. Discuss the behaviors of concern and the FBA process, recommending a team meeting if the student already has an IEP. For initial evaluations, provide an overview of the FBA during a team meeting, where the legal guardian can sign the necessary paperwork if they agree with the evaluation recommendations.

Identify Behavior Category

Categorize the behavior under assessment: engagement, physical aggression, or refusals. This categorization guides the examination of behaviors during observation.

Maintain Observer Role

During FBA procedures, the data recorder should strictly maintain the role of an observer, refraining from any interaction beyond observation, including teaching, redirecting, or offering advice.

Record Behavior in Real Time

Monitor for identified behaviors throughout the FBA process, recording occurrences in real-time. After documenting each behavior, specify the antecedent and perceived function, ensuring comprehensive documentation.

Maintain Objectivity

Strive for objectivity throughout the observation process, reserving subjectivity solely for determining perceived functions of behaviors.

Diversify Observations

Conduct FBA observations a minimum of three times per student to gather comprehensive information for the FBA summary. Vary observation parameters including time of day, subjects, days of the week, duration of observation, and supervising adults (as feasible).

Special Education Best Practice for Student Observations

Outline the Objectives

Clearly define the objectives of the observation, including its purpose and intended outcomes.

Respect Student Privacy

Maintain the confidentiality of observed students and peers within the classroom environment. Refrain from disclosing sensitive information to unauthorized individuals and exclude peers’ names from notes and reports.

Observer Role Only

During observations, refrain from any interaction beyond the role of an observer. Avoid disrupting the learning environment and refrain from engaging with students or teachers, including teaching, redirecting, or offering advice.

Record in Real Time

Monitor behaviors relevant to learning and record them promptly as they occur. Provide detailed descriptions of each observed behavior.

Maintain Objectivity

Strive for objectivity, avoiding judgments or assumptions. Focus solely on the observed behaviors and provide an impartial narrative of classroom events.

Determine Number of Observations

Decide the required number of observations based on the specific objectives. For routine classroom observations in special education initial evaluations, one observation may suffice, while health-related needs or progress monitoring may require multiple observations (recommended three), varying in time, subjects, days, duration, and supervision.

Special Education Best Practice for Transition Assessments


Identify the Skill for Assessment

Begin by pinpointing the specific life skill to assess within the transition plan: employment, education/training, or independent living.

Choose the Transition Assessment

Select an appropriate transition assessment tailored to the identified life skill area.

Conduct Interviews

If feasible, utilize an interview-style format for the assessment process. Guide the student through questions, with either the student or teacher recording responses. Employ visual supports and supplementary discussions to clarify inquiries as necessary.

Consider All Participants

For students unable to communicate their preferences, involve a parent or legal guardian in completing the assessment. Parent surveys are valuable, particularly for students with profound disabilities. In cases where a legal guardian is unavailable, and the student cannot express their desires, a teacher can observe and document the student’s likes, dislikes, and abilities.

Summarize Assessment Results

Summarize assessment findings in a narrative format, linking them to relevant curricular components supporting transition skill development.

Document Current Skill Levels

Document the student’s current proficiency level in independent living, alongside their aspirations for post-high school education/training and employment.

Explore Additional Skills

Review past assessments and consider new skills to investigate as the student progresses, ensuring comprehensive information for the transition plan.

These special education best practice checklists are incredibly helpful tools for educators and parents alike.

By providing a clear and organized overview of best practices, these checklists can improve the quality of education and support provided to students with special needs.

Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance your instruction, or a parent advocating for your child’s education, these checklists are an invaluable resource.

By following the special education best practice, we can create a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all students.

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