Success of Registered Behavior Technicians
Nov. 11, 2022 - During the 2022-23 school year, SSD added a new support staff position: registered behavior technician (RBT). The role was created to allow certified personnel to provide ABA therapy to students who have applied behavior analysis (ABA) services as part of their individual education plan (IEP). The position falls under the category of a paraprofessional, but requires additional training.
“RBT’s are initially required to go through 40 hours of training by a qualified provider, pass a competency assessment with a Board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and pass a national certification exam,” said Jenny Frisbee, ABA director. “They are then required to follow guidelines for maintaining certification and an ethics code outlined by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board.”
There are currently over 80 RBTs actively working with students across the District. They focus on helping students learn adaptive and social skills, and proactive behaviors.
“We do something called functional communication, which is communicating with a purpose,” said Kellie Mayhew, an RBT at Northview High School. “For example, when it’s lunch time, instead of just giving a student their plate, preparing it, or feeding them, we ask them - are you ready to eat? They have to respond verbally or by using a core board. This lets the student know that I want them to communicate and share information with me. It also sets expectations and builds trust.”
“Data keeping is huge,” said Northview RBT Laura Scheller. “Whenever we work one on one with a student, we document their progress in the therapy log. We keep track of what is prompted, incomplete, or independent.”
Scheller has been with the District for nine years, and Mayhew for 10 years. They both previously worked as paraprofessionals. Mayhew had an interest in becoming an RBT long before SSD opened the position. She earned her certification just as the ABA program was reorganizing.
“Everything just lined up,” said Mayhew. “It has further educated me on how to work with children to help them better understand themselves.”
Before the RBT position was added, paraprofessionals would sometimes split their attention between assisting teachers and helping students fulfill their ABA minutes. This made it more challenging for students to receive necessary one-on-one time.
"Paraprofessionals are working on a lot and sometimes emergencies come up,” said Lindsay Brefeld, BCBA. Their busy schedule makes it difficult to provide uninterrupted time. RBTs can fill that gap, using 30 minutes to an hour to repeatedly go over programs that students need to learn."
Carrie Brandriff, RBT in Ferguson Florissant School District agrees. She believes RBTs are needed to produce long-term results.
“I believe RBTs are needed for consistency of students' success,” said Brandriff. “Since starting this year, students’ communication skills have soared, they have built relationships with staff and other students. Their play skills have increased, and in some cases, unwanted behaviors have decreased!”
Behavior Analyst Alex Burkhardt is excited to see how the program progresses. She credits her RBTs for how successful the transition has been so far.
“I have great RBTs. They are really good at providing programming and instruction and asking questions when they are not sure,” said Burkhardt. “I see that they want to grow and appreciate their hard work.”
To apply or learn more about RTB’s, visit SSDmo.org/careers.