Special Needs Transportation

The ABCD's of a behavior intervention plan

Nancy Tarvin
Posted on March 1, 1999

Behavior problems exhibited by students with disabilities are not uncommon on the school bus. According to the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, students with special needs who are experiencing behavior problems in any school setting, including the school bus, must have these problems addressed in their Individualized Education Programs (IEP). Thus it is becoming increasingly necessary for school districts to write behavior goals and intervention plans specifically for the school bus. Behavior IEPs should include the following:

  • Current level of functioning
  • Statement of annual goals
  • Short-term objectives

    Each of these components must be written in objective, measurable terms. Baseline data is essential in determining current levels of functioning. Drivers and monitors are encouraged to keep documentation about students with significant behavior problems in order to help identify and quantify behavior issues. For example, if a student has to be told to sit down seven times, uses profanity five times and has a good ride once over a one-week period, this data can be used to indicate a current level of functioning of "Follows school bus rules one out of 10 bus rides. "The statement of annual goals represents what the student can reasonably be expected to accomplish in 12 months. For example, an annual goal such as "Follow school bus rules eight out of 10 bus rides" would accomplish safer bus behavior yet allows for realistic expectations. The short-term behavioral objectives should describe the specific behaviors that need to be increased or decreased. Writing behavioral objectives is as easy as "A-B-C-D." "A" refers to your audience; most of the time a phrase such as "the student will be able to…" addresses this need. "B" indicates behavior desired, for example, "…stay in seat…" "C" refers to the conditions for meeting the goal, such as "…for the entire bus ride…" "D" indicates degree of mastery, for example, "…for eight out of 10 bus rides… "Put all four components together: "The student will be able to stay in seat for entire bus ride for eight out of 10 bus rides." You have written a perfectly acceptable behavioral goal. Add the current level of functioning derived from the baseline data and your behavioral objective is complete and measurable. (See sidebar for behavioral verbs to aid in writing behavior objectives.) Typically, only a few of these objectives would be included as part of a more general behavior IEP addressing behavior problems throughout the school setting because it is rare for special-needs students to exhibit behavioral problems on the school bus alone. The following is a sample transportation behavior intervention plan. It indicates those behaviors that are interfering with learning and/or safety, alternative positive behaviors to be increased (written objectively and measurably), intervention strategies appropriate to a school bus setting, reinforcers (rewards) and consequences (punishments). Again, not all of the behaviors, intervention strategies, reinforcers and consequences listed would typically be used on one student's intervention plan. School bus issues normally would be addressed with other school-related behavior problems on the same behavior intervention plan.

    Behavioral Verbs
    Apply, Arrange, Classify, Collect, Compare, Construct, Define, Demonstrate, Describe, Read, Graph, Identify, Estimate, Refrain, Use, State, Separate, Report, Record, Organize, Order, Match, Measure, Recite, Relate, Revise, Comply.

    Sample Transportation Behavior Intervention Plan Student Age School Grade School Year Duration of Services

    Behaviors that Interfere with Learning/Safety Unsafe out-of-seat behavior

  • Refusing to fasten seat belt
  • Refusing to follow directions
  • Use of profanity and/or name-calling
  • Unsafe voice volume
  • Aggressive behavior toward property or others
  • Putting objects/body parts out of bus windows
  • Alternative Behaviors to Be Increased

    Stay in seat for entire bus ride ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Currently: ____out of ____ bus rides

    Fasten seat belt at first request ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Currently: ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Comply with staff directions at first request ____ out of ____ times

    Currently: ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Refrain from using profanity and/or name-calling for entire bus ride ____out of ____ times

    Currently: ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Maintain low voice volume for entire bus ride ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Currently: ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Keeping hands to self for entire bus ride ____ out of ____bus rides

    Currently: ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Keep all body parts and/or objects inside the bus for entire bus ride ____ out of ____ bus rides

    Currently: ____out of ____ bus rides

    Intervention Strategies

  • Frequent reminder of rules
  • Assigned seating
  • Clearly defined limits and expectations of behavior
  • Avoid power struggles and negotiating of consequences
  • Set limits calmly, use neutral tone of voice
  • Be straightforward about inappropriate behavior
  • Give concrete examples of desired behavior
  • Be consistent o Provide choices rather than direct commands
  • Assist in conflict resolution with peers
  • Acknowledge appropriate behaviors
  • Private discussions regarding behavior
  • Reinforce successive approximations of behavior
  • Redirection
  • State instructions simply, one at a time
  • Use of seat belt
  • Use of harness


  • Positive notes home
  • Good bus reports
  • Praise
  • Concrete reinforcers (e.g., stickers, certificates)
  • Peer or bus helper
  • Choice of seating
  • Choice of radio station
  • Increased privileges at school


  • Assigned seating or call home
  • Conference with administrator
  • Discipline referral
  • Parent conference
  • Decreased privileges at school
  • Time out from school activities
  • In-school suspension or lunch detention
  • Before- or after-school detention
  • Saturday school
  • Safety class
  • Alternative placement for continued or serious misbehavior (not to exceed 10 days without IEP team meeting)
  • Emergency removal (not to exceed 3 days)

    Nancy Tarvin is a nationally certified school psychologist at Leander (Texas) Independent School District.

    Related Topics: behavior management

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