Behavior Goals

Big Picture

A BIP includes a variety of supports, strategies, and interventions to encourage the student's use of desired, positive behaviors. Behavior goals should be developed as part of the BIP, specific to areas of behavioral need targeted by the BIP.

The three areas where goals may be developed to support a BIP are:

  1. Required: Use of an identified functionally equivalent replacement behavior.
  2. Recommended: Decrease in challenging behavior
  3. Recommended: Increase in general positive behavior

Best practice states that when a goal targeting a decrease in behavior is developed, a goal targeting an increase in desired behavior is also developed.

Throughout the PENT website, behavior change may be referred to as modifying behavior or changing behavior; it is important for the practitioner to understand that these terms include both the increase of desired behavior (e.g., general positive behavior or the use of replacement behavior) as well as the decrease in challenging behavior.

While the focus of a BIP is usually to decrease the occurrence of challenging behavior, best practice states that a challenging behavior should not be targeted for decrease or elimination without also targeting desired behaviors to increase.


Behavior goals are developed to allow for progress monitoring of the specific areas of behavioral need that have been identified by the IEP team. Well-written goals allow the school team to accurately measure progress over time and to determine next-step goals for the student. Without explicit, measurable goals, our evaluation of progress may be inaccurate. Monitoring these goals ensure that a student is making progress by not only seeing challenging behavior decrease, but also by seeing desired behavior increase. Additionally, monitoring the progress the student makes towards the goals is an additional measure of effectiveness and a continued need for the BIP.

Key Concepts

Goal Writing Considerations: When writing behavior goals, there are many factors that educators should be aware of. Including these factors in the planning and discussion process will help to ensure that the goals developed are appropriate and individualized for the student. Some elements include consideration of the student's learner profile, their disability, and determining areas of behavioral need.

Data: Each goal developed must include baseline data which is directly related to the behavior or skill targeted by the goal. Additionally, selection of the most functional, appropriate type of data collection to ensure accurate monitoring is an important part of crafting behavior goals.

Writing Measurable Goals: Goals written should follow the S.M.A.R.T format and include the six components required to ensure the goals are complete and measurable.

Examples and Non-Examples

Goal Components: Examples and Non-Examples of Behavior Goals


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