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Learning the BCP


The Behavioral Characteristics Progression (BCP) was originally developed by the special education staff of the Santa Cruz County's Office of Education and VORT for a project entitled Special Education Management System funded under E.H.A.Title VI-B and E.S.E.A.Title III. Within this project, the BCP served as the major assessment, instruction, and communication tool, and over 100 special education professionals helped develop and field test the BCP instructional activities (methods).

The BCP is a non-standardized continuum of behaviors. It contains 2,300 observable traits referred to as behavioral characteristics. Ages and labels have been omitted and behavioral characteristics have been grouped into categories of behavior called Strands. Strands generally begin at age 1 year (skill #.01 within a Strand), and progress toward more complex characteristics. Strands generally end (e.g., skill #.50) with characteristics which approximate what society considers "appropriate" or "acceptable" adult behavior. Note: the term "pupil" is used throughout the BCP to mean children, students, and adults.

The BCP Assessment Record includes a list of "Identifying Behaviors" behaviors that may indicate the individual needs further assessment and instruction in the respective Strand. These Identifying Behavior can be used for screening which strands are most important for an individual and can help staff focus on the basic need areas of the pupil and in determining priorities of learner objectives

Background on the BCP

The Behavioral Characteristics Progression (BCP) is a criterion-referenced assessment and instructional planning system for use with children and adults. As an assessment tool, the BCP provides the teacher and/or diagnostician with a comprehensive chart of pupil behaviors to assist in identifying which behavioral characteristics a pupil displays and which he does not. As an instructional tool, the BCP helps the special education teacher develop individualized and appropriate learner objectives for each pupil. As a communication tool, the BCP provides a historical recording device used throughout the schooling of the pupil to display his progress and to help communicate this information to all those concerned with the pupil's educational program.

Assessment and early identification: Through parent interviews, ecological observations, and exposure to different activities in all areas of development, professionals working with children and adults can get an overall picture of an individual's skill levels. You can use the BCP to document growth and progress, both at home and in the educational setting. When there appear to be delays, mild or severe, it should be decided, with the parents involvement, whether the individual needs to be referred to his/her local school district for a more in-depth assessment to determine eligibility for special education services according to Public Law 99-457, making early identification of individuals with special needs a high priority of educators.

Program intervention and instructional teaching resource: By recording and charting an individual's developmental progress using the BCP Assessment Record, strategies can be included in the curriculum to build and expand an individual's skills. The individual should be taught according to his/her rate and style of learning within the range of normal development.

Parent involvement: A high priority should be given to parent involvement. The parent needs to be introduced to the teaching concepts that can be carried over into the home setting. As the parent becomes more involved, he or she will begin to feel more comfortable and effective in reinforcing skills at home that have been introduced in the educational setting.

Team approach and training guide: Family members, the educator and other school personnel, along with other professionals such as audiologists, social workers and therapists, constitute the team that provides comprehensive services to meet the individual's unique needs. The BCP can be used by the team to chart growth, and as a training guide for staff who are new to the field of special education.

Important Note: The BCP behaviors/skills and instructional activities should be used and adapted under the direct supervision of a qualified professional. While this is stated specifically for some skills in this book, this requirement applies to all content in this book. For example, Language strands/behaviors should be reviewed with a speech therapist and teacher of the deaf, and Motor strands/behaviors with a physical therapist and/or occupational therapist. The Assessment Record includes a list of "Identifying Behaviors" behaviors that may indicate the individual needs further assessment and instruction in the respective Strand. These Identifying Behavior can be used for screening which strands are most important for an individual and can help staff focus on the basic need areas of the pupil and in determining priorities of learner objectives

BCP Instructions - A Quick Start

  1. Familiarize yourself with the BCP Assessment Record and the procedures outlined in page iv-xxxii of the BCP Instructional Activities book. Some of the 2,300 behavioral characteristics are behaviors to be observed and addressed, but not taught (e.g., 37.24).
  2. Each activity and play-based observation of an individual can simultaneously yield information about a variety of skills and behaviors from several strands. It is typically unnecessary and inappropriate to assess each strand or domain separately.
  3. Study the content of the BCP Assessment Record, and thoroughly review the Identifying Behaviors for each strand. The BCP Assessment Record includes a list of Identifying Behaviors representing "indicator" behaviors that an individual might be displaying. Use these Identifying Behaviors to help screen/identify an individual's strands/area(s) of need.
  4. All of the skills and behaviors listed are rarely pertinent to any one individual. Many will not be pertinent due to the individual's age and developmental level, some skills may not be functional due to a individual's disability, and other skills may not be necessary to assess because they are not judged to be important for a particular individual. Also note that for some Strands (e.g., 06-Practical Math), there is no exact "developmental" sequence - often skills such as these are learned more in a sequence based on the pupil's motivation and exposure/experience.
  5. Observe the pupil's behaviors and skills in nature settings and/or give teacher-made tests. Assessment situations and time can be lessened if materials, activities, and/or natural play-based situations are combined.
  6. If you can't complete all of the observations needed, go to other sources of information. Most pupil files have a wealth of information in them, and their contents can be used in evaluation:
    • Pupil records
    • Grade reports and anecdotal records
    • Formal reports of teachers and professionals
    • Interviews with parents or guardians.
  7. Record the results of observations and reviews on each of the strands being considered - assign a credit code and date for each skill assessed.
  8. Meet with the parents to compose realistic goals and objectives that are appropriate for the pupil. The BCP is a great system for increasing communication between parents and professionals. Please note that the BCP behaviors are not IEP objectives per se. You will still need to individualize these competency-based benchmarks by applying audience, behavior, condition and degree to meet IEP requirements. In doing this, you may have to break (task-analyze) a BCP skill/objective down into sub-steps to make it appropriate for the pupil.
  9. Plan and implement your instruction with an easy-to-use approach, e.g., using the instructional module.
Note: Activity information is not provided for all skills - only skills for which there are instructional activities appear in this book. Use the BCP Assessment Record to see all the skills per strand.