CA Dept. of Education


On Haitus

Behavior 2018-19


Tara Zombres, M.Ed.
Education Specialist

Tara Zombres, M.Ed., is an Education Specialist at the Diagnostic Center-North.  She is a special education teacher who has taught students with a wide variety of disabilities. She has a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction in Special Education with the Moderate/Severe population.  Her areas of expertise are providing engaging and appropriate instruction for students with complex needs, developing educational programs for students with severe emotional and behavior disorders, teaching students with Autism using Evidence Based Practices and designing comprehensive programming for students with Emotional Disturbances.  At the Diagnostic Center, she provides trainings in Behavior Basics, and in Creating Student Success: How to Provide Meaningful Access to the CSS for Students with Moderate/Severe Disabilities. She is a BCBA candidate and a member of PENT (Positive Environment Network of Trainers) and CAPTAIN (California Autism Professional Training and Information Network).   


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  • Help! Helping parents with summer behavior


Help! I am a parent of a young child with behavioral difficulties. We have worked hard to put together supports at school and he had a pretty good year. Once school was going more smoothly for him, his behavior at home improved as well. But now he’s home for the summer and his behavior has gotten worse! Do you have any ideas on how I can help him be successful while he’s home all day during the summer? Thanks so much!


Thank you so much for this question. It is incredibly relevant for so many parents out there! It is very common for kids to struggle with increased behavior during the summer months. It is difficult to say why exactly any given child is engaging in behavior without specifically analyzing the factors that contribute to maladaptive behavior (sorry the behavior analyst in me can’t help it! J). But there are basic tips that can be helpful for almost every child (and family!)

Create home structure- Kids needs structure. Even though they often fight it and complain about it – it’s a huge underlying factor for inappropriate behaviors. School provides a daily routine, structure, and consistency from day to day. Therefore, making home-time during summer somewhat structures can be very helpful. This can be accomplished in lots of ways. Some examples:

  • Create a written or visual schedule of what the day will entail. If the locations and/or activities that a child is going to be engaging in varies from day-to-day, a schedule is highly recommended. If there is less variance, but a lot of open time a schedule can create that structure.
  • Include leisure activities and chores and self-hygiene as part of the schedule. Therefore, there is an expectation that all day isn’t just lazy and/or play time.

Limit the amount of time spent on “favorite” activities – During the school year kids will typically be limited in the amount of time they get to spend doing their very favorite things (i.e., iPad, video games, watching videos, playing outdoors, engaging with a favorite toy). In the summer it is very easy to let these boundaries lax a bit. However, when there are no limits on these activities, kids tend to increase the behavior when that time is then limited. This means that when you ask them to turn off the devices or come inside – there may be an increase in tantrums/refusal/negotiating, etc. because those limits feel unexpected to them. Therefore, continue to provide clear time limits and implement them consistently! This is so helpful in the long run…I promise!

Require that kids earn what they want- When it comes to successful behavior at school, kids are usually having to complete some kind of work or task demand to access items/activities that they want. This technique can be highly successful at home as well. Consider having your child complete chores or practice academic skills for a period of time before gaining access to the item/activity that s/he wants. This also establishes the requirement that kids participate around the home as part of their summer and across life!

I hope these ideas are helpful!

Good luck, be consistent, be creative and keep in mind that structure and expectations will make summer more fun for everyone! J


Tara Zomouse, M.Ed., BCBA

  • How can I access resources from this year’s PENT Cadre forum?


Hello! I know that each year the Positive Network Environment of Trainers (PENT) meets to discuss new information in the field of behavior. Is there a way for people who did not attend to access that information?


Hello and thank you for reaching out regarding resources from the PENT Forum. The answer is, yes there is an easy way to access all of the information from this year’s wonderful forum.

Go to and click on the “2018 Forum Handouts”. The button looks like this:

The focus of this year’s Forum was on re-introducing the elements of the Direct Treatment Protocol (DTP) and how to design an effective plan that meets both emotional and behavioral needs of students. I would recommend checking out the following specific resources (although everything there is fantastic!):

  • “Functional Behavior Assessment to Inform Treatment Decisions” – Dr. Clayton R. Cook, PENT Research Director
  • Direct Treatment Protocol: Steps for Implementation” Dr. Clayton R. Cook, PENT Research Director, Vanessa Smith, PENT Director, Dr. Bruse Gale, PEND leader
  • “Student-to-Intervention Matching System”

Good luck and enjoy all of the rich content that PENT provides!


Tara Zomouse, M.Ed., BCBA

  • Positive and preventative behavior strategies


I am a special education teacher and I have several students who engage in a lot of behavior throughout the day. When I ask my administration about Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) for those students, they told me that I need to implement positive and preventative behavior strategies before we look at interventions that are more intensive for these students. The problem is that I’m having a hard time finding information about what specific preventative behavior strategies are. Can you help?


This is a wonderful and very timely question. There is a strong focus right now across the educational system to create more preventative measures to support students who struggle with appropriate classroom behavior. Positive Behavior Intervention & Supports (PBIS) is a national movement whose mission is to use positive behavior interventions to, “improve social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities and students from underrepresented groups (”

Implementation of PBIS within the classroom consists of a set of specific strategies that include how the environment is designed, how students receive positive feedback (or reinforcement), and considerations for style of instruction.

The key to what makes a strategy positive is that it calls attention to the appropriate and correct behaviors in which students are engaging. The practice of finding positive ways to reinforce and praise students when they are doing the right thing is more effective than the practice of telling students what they are doing incorrectly.

The key to what makes a strategy preventative is that it is implemented prior to students engaging in any kind of negative or inappropriate behaviors. Preventative strategies should be in place consistently and be a regular part of the classroom culture.

Below is self-assessment that includes nine common positive and preventative behavior strategies. Below the self-assessment is a link to a padlet that outlines examples, videos, and more explanation of each of the nine strategies.

There is a great deal of information on preventative behavior interventions and it can be overwhelming! I hope this self-assessment can help provide a few specific strategies so that implementation is not quite so daunting.

Good luck!

Tara Zombres, BCBA



  • Online resources for all your behavior needs! (or at least some…)


I am a classroom teacher who is supporting students both in general education classrooms, and within my own special education room. I am always looking for new ideas and strategies to try and to recommend that other teachers try. Do you know of any helpful resources that area easily accessible?


Hi! Thank you for your wonderful question. There are a plethora of wonderful resources available on the internet in the area of behavior supports. However, I know it can be overwhelming to try and decide how to select a strategy, which websites are evidence based and which ones provide strategies that are supported by the California educational system. As a person who provides trainings across the state in positive behavior supports and reinforcement systems, I run into the same problem! Where do I start?!?!

My solution has been to use the format to put together a “one stop shop” for behavior supports. This is an online resource that allows for a ton of content (i.e., videos, articles, checklists, examples) in an easily accessible format. I’ve made this Padlet open to the public in hopes that it can be a resource that is relevant and helpful to what teachers are needing to support their students.

Below is a screen shot of the Padlet, and a link.

Good luck!

Tara Zombres

  • Why Are Replacement Behaviors Not Working?


Can you provide some tips on how to identify and teach replacement behaviors that will work?


Effectively identifying and teaching replacement behaviors to student who struggle with problem behaviors is an integral part of the behavior change process. While each student’s identified replacement behavior should be highly individualized, to address their specific behaviors, here are a few steps and tips to consider.

Tip 1 – A replacement behavior is a functional equivalent of the problem behavior. This means that the replacement behavior has to get the student the same thing (i.e., to escape or attain) that the problem behavior gets the student when they engage in the undesired behavior.

Tip 2 – Replacement behaviors should be easier than the effort needed for the student to engage in the problem behavior.

Often this step most significantly affects the success of a replacement behavior. If the skill that the student is asked to engage in is difficult, the likelihood of the student using the problem behavior instead increases.

Tip 3 – Replacement behaviors should not be contingent on a student performing target skills before accessing desired response.

Keep in mind that another component of a behavior plan is to identify a skill to increase. This is the appropriate place to identify the behavior that the team has identified for the student to learn so that the problem behavior is no longer needed.

This is a place to start! For more information and examples, check out California’s Positive Environment Network of Trainers (PENT) website at

  • Behavioral teaching strategy for the non compliant student


Can you please provide an example of a teaching or learning strategy that can be used with a student who has high rates of noncompliant behavior? This student has an intellectual disability and has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. We use reinforcement systems, but they don’t seem to be highly effective, especially when trying to get her to learn new skills or engage in novel activities.



Thank you for your question. This is a very helpful subject area for so many teachers and parents struggling with students who engage in difficult behavior when exposing them to new learning activities.

A best practice behavior intervention that targets compliance, completion of task, and builds behavioral momentum is high probability instructional routines. When a student struggles with noncompliance and refusal to engage in tasks and demands, using a high probability instructional sequence will increase the motivation for the student to comply with given directives. This strategy can be used across all aspects of a student’s day. It is especially effective when a child is being asked to engage in a request that is less likely to produce a compliant response. The theory behind the strategy is that providing requests that are more likely to produce a compliant response (high p) before introducing the less likely request (low p), the student will gain positive momentum towards compliance and, thus, increases the likelihood that the low p will occur.

An example sequence is provided below

  • Identify high probability tasks – These are tasks that the student is likely to engage in when asked. The tasks can be academic in nature, but can also be “silly” and/or kinesthetic.
      • Examples: sit down, spell your name, touch your nose, spin around, etc.
  • Identify the low probability (low p) task – This is the task that the student is unlikely to engage in.
      • Examples: time to come in from recess, beginning academic tasks, etc.,
  • Present multiple high p requests followed by the low p demand – The process of presenting several tasks that the student will more likely to engage in builds behavioral momentum and increases the likelihood that they will complete the task they are less likely to engage in. These tasks should be presented in fast succession (within a few seconds of each other).
    • There should be 3-4 high probability tasks followed by verbal praise
    • Present only 1 low probability task
    • When the low probability task is completed, the student should earn immediate reinforcement that is highly motivating and desired.

See example below: