Program Book Definitions/Guidelines

Program Book Definitions/Guidelines


Each new student and returning students will be given a VB MAPP assessment. Assessments are performed at the beginning and end of each school year.  The pre and post scores reflect learning throughout the school year. Your consultant will guide you through the assessment and scoring process.  Below are some definitions and guidelines to aid in the programming process. 


  • The word “program” is defined as a specific domain from the VB-MAPP– each of these would be considered a program. Motor Imitation, Echoic, Receptive, etc.  


Programs are selected based on the areas of need identified from the student’s VB-MAPP assessment.


Teaching no more than 5 programs at a time is a general guideline.  However, individual decisions should be made based on each individual student’s learning abilities/acquisition rate, the daily schedule of each student, feasibility of staff to carry out programs etc… 



  • “Targets” are the skills that are being taught within each program. The number of targets is usually determined by the highest criteria stated on the VB-MAPP; however, keep in mind that the goal is for students to master skills to fluency and generalize the skills to their natural environment.  Consultants will help you determine the targets for your learners as per the assessment results until you develop your skills in this area. Consultants will provide sample targets for all of the program areas, and some sample targets can also be found in the appendix of the VB-MAPP scoring guides. 


  •  Known skills are skills the learner was able to perform successfully during the assessment(s). These skills can be recorded on the VB-MAPP scoring forms  provided by your consultant or in the “Notes” sections of the student’s scoring booklet as shown above.  It is very important to record these “known” skills during assessment. We maintain and build on these known skills; therefore we use these them in daily programming.  “Known” skills are also sometimes referred to as “easies” or “mastered” skills.  



The Programming Sequence  


Step 1   - The Assessment


  • Record all skills, if any, the student successfully performed during the VB-MAPP assessment on the scoring forms or in the student’s protocol in the Note section. 

  • Transfer the scores to the grid in the corresponding section.  


    If the student scored a zero, then the dot at the bottom of the domain on the VB-MAPP grid should be filled to denote that the skill was tested but the student scored zero. 

  • 3

    Review the completed assessment results with the team and/or your consultant to determine which programs you will begin teaching first. Once programs are determined, go to Step 2, the Skills Tracking Sheet.














The Programming Sequence  


Step 2   - The Skills Tracking Sheet (example below)

Create skills tracking sheets for active programs only. Skills tracking sheets are not used for recording previously mastered skills where programming will never need to be developed. Skills tracking sheets are used to record one or both of the following…


    • Known” skills within active programs where only partial criteria has been met during assessment and further programming is necessary to meet the highest criteria. 


    •  Future targets to be taught within a specific program to meet criteria.

  • Begin by going to the specific domain (Mand, Tact, Listener Responding, etc.) in the student’s program book where you are creating the program. In the example above, we would go to Imitation in the student’s program book.


  • Record the student’s name, the mastery criteria in the boxes located at the top of the form. 


  • Record the skills the student successfully performed during the assessment first, and then list targets to be taught. If there were no skills successfully performed during the assessment and programming is deemed as necessary, then only records future targets to be taught. (There will be no known skills to record). Determine the number of targets to be taught using the program’s highest criteria.  Choose and record the targets considering the following…


  • The skills that will be useful in the learner’s current environments (functional skills)  

  • The learner’s current mastered skills that can be built upon

  • The learner’s current abilities

  • The learner’s current interests (MO)

  • The complexity of the target.  (Targets can be broken down teaching parts of a whole at first)


4.  Record in the Date Introduced column either…

  • “assessment” if the skill was determined to be mastered during assessment 


  • The current date the target is being introduced (taught) 


5.  Record in the Date Mastered column either… 


  • The date the skill was assessed and determined to be mastered


  • The date the target was mastered (see Step 5 – Weekly Probes for more information on mastery)


 Step 3 - Creating a Graph and Recording Cumulative Graph Data 


A graph is a pictorial representation of the facts. It displays a relationship between what you are manipulating, the independent variable, and the outcome, the dependent variable.  More on this…


Dependent variables and independent variables refer to values that change in relationship to each other. The dependent variables are those that are observed to change in response to the independent variables. The independent variables are those that are deliberately manipulated to invoke a change in the dependent variables. In short, the dependent variable (DI) is the outcome and the independent variable (IV) is the “thing” you are manipulating for the outcome to occur. Example: IV – amount of sleep DI – test scores.


Since instructional decisions are based on data collected, we use the graph to provide a quick representation of facts.  Therefore you will create one cumulative graph for each active program. See additional graphing information in the Program Book Set-up Procedures. (See the Mand Probe and Rate directions for specific information on graphing Mand data not covered here)


Preprinted graph grids are used but a graph can quickly be constructed using just graph paper. Regardless of the format you use, the following information is needed on the graph.


1. Title - Cumulative Graph for: _______________________  


The title offers a short explanation of what is in your graph. This helps the reader identify what they are about to view. Place skill names here that are the same as those on the skills tracking sheets in your student’s binder from the ABLLS assessment. Examples: Matching Identical Objects, Receptive ID Body Parts, Tacting Pictures of Common Items, etc. 


Example: Cumulative Graph for:  Tacting Pictures of Common Items 


  • Student: Record the name of the learner on this line.


  • VB-MAPP/ABLLS:  Record the section of the VB-MAPP/ABLLS here (optional).  Example: T3-b or C24


  • Y axis: 


On a line graph the Y-axis runs vertically (up and down). Typically, the Y-axis displays numbers (including percentages). These numbers represent the dependent variable which is your measurable outcome data. The Y-axis usually starts counting at 0 and can be divided into as many equal parts as you need. 


To determine which numbers to place on the Y axis, count the number of mastered skills already recorded on all Skills Tracking sheet for a specific domain. This will become your baseline data.  Baseline data provides a standard by which things are measured or compared. This number identifies conditions at the start of the training. The accumulation of data each day on the graph will display the learner’s progress. 


For behaviors, count the occurrence of the target behavior prior to the treatment to determine baseline.  (Confer with your consultant for more information here).



Subsequent graphs


When your graph is full (end graph at least 4 blocks before the last one), start a new graph with the same number as the end data point as the previous graph. Remember, the Y-axis starts counting at Zero so always place a Zero on the first line regardless of the starting number... The first line will show 0 and then your beginning counting number. Example: 0, 28, 29, 30 


Approximate Guidelines for choosing a starting number 

    • 0 – 20 skills – start numbering at 0

    • 20 – 100 + skills – start numbering by 2’s

    • 100+ where acquisition is 5 or more skills per week - start numbering by 5’s


Counting will begin by placing the starting numbers on the Y-axis and numbering up.  Numbering will begin on the second, horizontal line up from the bottom left hand corner of the graph on the Y axis. (See example).  Always place a Zero on the first line regardless of the starting number. (See example)


  • X-Axis 

In line graph, the X-axis runs horizontally. Typically, the X-axis has numbers representing different time periods, sessions, or names of things being compared. Usually dates will be placed on the X-axis. 

Write vertically on the line of a date (or indicate with a bracket at the date) if it is a weekend, mark off blocks or denote school holidays, in-services, etc. As the month proceeds, write in student absences as they occur, or mark “No Data” if unable to collected data for that day.  Coding the graph aids in the analysis of student progress.  


6.  Recording the Data

Once the graph is prepared (title, name, month, X axis, Y axis) student data can be placed on it.  


In preparing the Y axis, you have previously counted the number of mastered skills already recorded on all Skills Tracking sheet for a specific domain. 


  • Place the data point (dot) where the count and date intersect. 

  • If the student begins with no mastered skills, the first data point will be placed on Zero. Zero is the first line at the bottom, left hand corner of the graph on the X axis. 

  • All subsequent data will be is added to the total number of responses recorded during all previous sessions.  If no skills were mastered, the data point remains in the same place as the previous data point.  

  • Connect the data points with a line (except across phase change lines, or breaks/holidays). 

  • Data either stay at the same level (flat-line) or increase.  This means the steeper the slope on the graph, the greater the number of mastered responses. It would be rare to record a decrease on a cumulative graph. This would signify that retention of mastered skills is not occurring. 

  • If data flat lines beyond the expected rate of acquisition for the student (aimline), this signals a programming review by the teacher or team.  Observe trends, programming, targets, teaching sessions, and talk with instructor(s).  Possible problems: target discriminations too close, prerequisite skills needed, barriers to learning (review barriers assessment in the VB MAPP), review effective teaching procedures, materials used not adequate, prompt level not enough to evoke correct responses, etc.  



NOTE: Data should never go downward on a cumulative graph unless the student can not retain mastered skills.  If retention issues occur, consult with your team or consultant



Frequency Graph


The frequency graph is similar to the cumulative graph EXCEPT

      • It is titled Frequency Graph 

      • Data recorded is NOT cumulative; therefore the data CAN increase or decrease daily.  

      • You will only record the count or rate for that specific day and WILL NOT add it to the previous day. 

      • Multiple data points can be plotted simultaneously and a legend is included. (see legend below)

      • The frequency graphs reflect the total number of occurrences of a particular behavior during a specific time (per day, per session, per minute).  The time interval MUST remain constant. 


This is the type of graph we use to record frequency of mands (prompted vs. unprompted vs. spontaneous per minute, per 20 minute session, etc). A detail explanation of the data collection and graphing procedures for mand frequency data is covered separately in the mand rate and probe direction sheet.  


Frequency graphs are also used for collecting problem behavior data. 

7.  The Legend

There may be an instance were multiple data is being collected on the same graph (i.e. mand frequency).  The legend tells what each line represents. Just like on a map, the legend helps the reader understand what they are viewing. 


For example, the mand frequency graph displays data the following way:  a dot  represents prompted responses, the X represents unprompted responses, and the O represents spontaneous responsesThe corresponding symbols are connected with a line to display increases or decreases in the specific behaviors. 


See COLD PROBES for more on data collection


















The Programming Sequence  


Step 4   - Creating Card Sort for Intensive Teaching


NON-Picture cards


  • Use pastel colored and white 3 X 5 note cards for teaching skills.  Record the discriminative stimulus (SD’s) for mastered items on the index cards according to a color-coded system based on skill sets that include the operants. Colors are as follows: 


  • RED:Listener responding (receptive discrimination skills that you do not use pictures for such as, “touch your nose”, “stand up””, “show me laughing”)


  • GREEN: Tacts (tacts that do not have pictures/objects for example, “This is my nose”,  “what am I doing?”  laughing) 


  • BLUE Intraverbal skills


  • PURPLEMotor Imitation skills


  • YELLOW: Echoic skills


  • WHITE:  Visual Performance – rarely used because the items themselves usually serve as cues for the teachers; however there may be cases where the card can be helpful for any specific instructions.


  • Begin creating “known” cards for the student. 


    • Record the discriminative stimulus (SD’s) for mastered items on the index cards according to the color-coded system above. Place what the teacher is to say in quotes and the student’s response below not in quotes (may be helpful to underline the student’s response). Receptive responses will not appear on the card since the response is Non-verbal.  The student will perform your directions as stated on the card. (See receptive example below)

    • Record each student’s initial on the back of any programming cards (Language Builder (LB) cards, colored “known” cards, etc.)  This will prevent confusion or mix-ups among student cards.


Receptive Example - Pink

Do not create colored cards for tasks such as putting puzzles together.  These skills can be maintained in natural environment teaching (NET) or when doing leisure or independent activities. We also avoid having a student perform skills such as “go jump on a trampoline” during IT, for instance, as this would slow down instruction time and it may be difficult to regain instructional control with your student.  These mastered skills can be maintained where longer breaks are possible, in the NET, or during leisure/playtime. 




  • Once all colored cards are written out, shuffle them so that the operants and skills are mixed and varied. 

  • Place the cards in a medium sized container.  You can buy/create containers considering the card size and number of cards.

  • Begin using the cards from the front to the back.  Create a marker the states “START HERE” that is slightly taller than the 3 X 5 cards.   Place it in the back of the box. If you do not get through the entire stack of cards in a session, place the used cards behind the marker with the unused cards in front of the marker. This will indicate which cards to use in the next session.  When you come across the “start here” card it means you have gone through all the cards and, at this point you should shuffle all the cards and start over. Shuffling the used cards prevents rote responding.                               



Colored Card Samples


              Receptive – Pink             Imitation - Purple




Tact – Green  





Many tacts are pictures or objects that do not require being written on a card. Refer to #3 above for more information on picture cards. 











Color Card Samples


                  Intraverbal – Blue           Echoic - Yellow