I examined Sam's I.E.P. and noted the goals related to his aggressive behaviors. I compared these goals to the behavior modification program developed in the alternative placement for Sam. I talked about the goals with the lead teacher in Sam's placement. I asked him how he used the goals to plan instruction for Sam. To focus my observations, I used the information from the I.E.P. and the teacher interview to examine Sam's in-class behaviors.
In reviewing Sam's I.E.P. and referrals to the alternative program,
I found that in a six-month period, he had twenty-five occasions of hitting
and/or biting in the 1997-98 school year. A goal on his I.E.P. was that
Sam would have one incident of aggression or less per week in all settings.
Objectives formed to meet the goal included: (1) Sam would
earn a smiley face for non-aggressive, compliant behavior; (2) Sam would identify feelings of anger and fear; (3) Sam would state the reasons for his anger after an outburst; and (4) Sam would use sign to communicate his angry feelings without becoming aggressive.
While observing Sam, I witnessed one incident that was perceived by his teachers to be aggressive. Sam raised a fist to one of his teachers for what seemed to be no apparent reason. However, when I interviewed the teacher, he said, "Sam does not like his space to be invaded." Therefore, Sam could have raised his fist because he felt that his space was being invaded.
The alternative teacher told of another incident when a peer invaded Sam's space. At that time, Sam patiently waited for the student to leave his space without exhibiting any aggressive behaviors.
In the four times I observed Sam in the alternative classroom, he seemed to be content to work alone. The only student/student interaction I observed was when Sam completed an individual practice activity. He exhibited signs of excitement and quickly showed his work to one of his peers who gave him a pat on the back. With the exception of the raised fist, Sam seemed to work well with his teachers.
Sam was on level four, which is the highest level of expectations and privileges in system, each time I observed him in the alternative classroom. Because Sam was able to control his aggressive behavior (raised fist), he remained on level four. A student may be immediately placed on restriction level for exhibiting physical aggression. If the student is placed on the restriction level, he must progress through the level system beginning with level one (see appendix A). Sam had been on level four for a month prior to my observations. Therefore, Sam was meeting his behavioral objectives in the alternative classroom, level system, and I.E.P.