Westwood Middle School

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Spotlight: Jessica Danielson, School Psychologist

As a school psychologist, one of my primary roles is to conduct comprehensive psycho-educational assessments to help IEP teams determine if a student is eligible or continues to be eligible for special education services. School psychologists are also trained to conduct functional behavior assessments (FBA), which help teams identify a behavior that they typically would like to reduce and/or extinguish (i.e. physical aggression, leaving the classroom/escaping, etc.). A FBA involves several hours of observational data, interviews, review of records, as well as consultations with teachers, parents, administrators, and other school personnel. This information helps teams determine the reason why the undesirable behavior is occurring and helps define a functionally equivalent replacement behavior for the student. For example if a student yells and screams while running out of the classroom (i.e. escape) during certain times of the day, the team would develop a plan for the student to temporarily avoid the activities that are triggering the maladaptive behavior to a more appropriate way to avoid the activity (i.e. break system). The results of the FBA help teams develop behavior intervention plans, which help general education teachers, special education teachers, administrators, specialists, and other school personnel all respond and intervene in the same way to help reinforce positive behaviors (and eventually reduce/extinguish the maladaptive behavior). At Westwood, I have conducted several functional behavior assessments this year, which have been challenging but also rewarding. Being a part of a team that can help a student be more successful in the classroom reinforces my passion for the profession.