Using an Objective Risk Rubric

By: Makenzie Schiemann, M.S., President, NABITA, Vice President, Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment, TNG

Once a behavioral intervention team (BIT) receives a referral for an individual who is experiencing distress or who poses a risk to the community, they must decide what to do for the student or the community. This decision-making process is often where BITs struggle as they wonder if they are doing enough or too much, taking the most effective action, or responding appropriately. When I hear team members explain that their team often struggles to decide what to do with a case or spends a lot of time spinning their wheels during team meetings, I always ask the same question – do you use an objective risk rubric on every case referred to the team, and does the risk rating on the rubric determine which interventions you deploy?

When teams do not use an objective risk rubric on every case to analyze the risk present and what interventions should be used to mitigate that risk, they tend to feel unsettled about whether they are making the right decision due to the lack of objective assessment, or as though they are reinventing the wheel every time they decide what action to take.

To resolve some of these functional hot spots, teams should use an objective risk rubric. To objectively assess risk, teams must apply a standardized tool to every case – regardless of how serious or how trivial it may seem. Having a risk level assigned to each individual referred to the team every time they are discussed creates a consistent process and a shared language to guide the team through decision-making. Objectively assessing risk is critical to identifying the safety concerns and deploying the appropriate intervention measure to address these concerns or to support the student. When bias, tradition, culture, or other subjective opinions drive the assessment process, teams run the risk of either over-or under-reacting to a case.

NABITA has created an objective risk rubric to guide teams in objectively assessing risk. The NABITA Risk Rubric is used by 93% of teams and helps guide the case management plan, need for a mandated assessment, how to contact the student, need for a welfare check, and more for the majority of teams. The NABITA Risk Rubric is designed to be applied to every case the team discusses and provides a framework for both the risk present and the interventions to help mitigate that risk.

If you or your team would like to learn more about the NABITA Risk Rubric, join us for a FREE Talking BITs event on April 23rd from 2-3 PM EST. During this Talking BIT, NABITA experts will provide an overview of the Rubric and facilitate the application of the Rubric to a variety of case studies.