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Tip of the Week: Implementing the NABITA Standards for BITs (Part XIV)

NABITA membership has more than doubled over the last year. To help new members implement the NABITA Standards for Behavioral Intervention Teams (BITs), and to provide continuing members with a refresher, NABITA is launching a Tip of the Week series specifically focused on the BIT Standards. Twenty standards, twenty Tips of the Week (maybe more) aimed specifically at the practical application of the BIT Standards (Note: the twenty Tips may not be published consecutively so that NABITA can bring you timely updates regarding other topics).

Standard 15. Record Keeping: Teams use an electronic data management system to keep records of all referrals and cases.

 “The record keeping systems used by the BIT should collect and store reports and case notes in a fashion that allows access for team members, facilitates communication among the team, and has the capability to analyze patterns (such as escalations, de-escalations, and baseline data) that exist beyond anecdotal knowledge. This means using a robust, electronic data management system that allows for data to be entered and stored in a way that is easily retrievable, searchable[,] and secure.”[1]

BITs must keep track of their records in a secure and easily searchable way. Handwritten or paper files should not be used. Instead, BITs should use an electronic recordkeeping system.

Along with storing records, the system must make it easy for stakeholders to submit referrals using electronic forms.  Electronic forms should simple to fill out, provide clear instructions, and be easy to find with the school’s website. Additionally, an electronic record keeping system allows institutions to create templates, restrict access, streamline the referral process, and so much more. With all the features an electronic recordkeeping system can offer, BITs can ensure the work is completed consistently, appropriately, and efficiently.

Practical tip – BITs share and document information in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA protection applies to all referrals made to the BIT and the subsequent case notes and actions. Under FERPA, students can request access to their records during the period in which the records are maintained. Since students can review their records, including the initial referral, BITs should incorporate tips to referral sources for how to make appropriate referrals with objective language and information. BITs should do so in their advertising and marketing efforts to the community, on the electronic form itself, and in record-keeping training to BIT members.

BITs should encourage referral sources/BIT members to avoid:

  • Using diagnostic language
  • Using subjective, informal, or judgmental language
  • Waiting too long to create the note
  • Leaving a case without documentation of the actions taken with and on behalf of the referred individual

BITs should encourage referral sources/BIT members to:

  • Be objective and descriptive
  • Report direct quotes or phrases used by the student
  • Include what was said/observed and what you did
  • Have continuity and documentation of the actions taken with and on behalf of the referred individual

A helpful acronym BITs can incorporate into their outreach efforts/training is SOLD, which stands for

Speculation & Stereotypes, Opinions, Labels, and Diagnoses. It can be framed in the following way:

You don’t want a student to feel SOLD Out, so stay away from:

  • Speculation & Stereotypes
  • Opinions
  • Labels
  • Diagnoses

Remember, all expectations regarding record keeping should be maintained in the BIT/CARE Team Manual.

Tim Cason, M.Ed.

Consultant, TNG

[1] NaBITA. (2018). NaBITA Standards for Behavioral Intervention Teams [White paper]. Access here.