2003 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2003 Table of Contents 


Laura P. Casson,
M.S. Sp. Ed.
Assistive Technology, Inc.
7 Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459
Phone: (800) 793-9227 tel
Phone: (281) 772-0967 cell
Phone: (617) 641-9191 fax
Email: Lcasson@assistivetech.com

Under IDEA legislation, school districts are required to provide alternative assessment for students with disabilities who are not able to perform the standard state assessment test. This can be an overwhelming task for administrators, teachers, and other professionals who serve students with disabilities...what alternative assessment programs are out there that can help? What methods of alternative assessment save time for teachers rather than making more work for them? What programs are available to students who cannot speak or hold a pencil?

Stages is one such program! Stages Alternative Assessment is a framework for assessing and teaching learners with disabilities in the areas of cognitive and language skills. It:

Additionally, ATI has created documentation for every state showing how STAGES matches up with the state's core curriculum standards and alternative assessment measures!

The Seven Stages

The Stages Alternative Assessment consists of seven different learning levels, or stages.

Stages One through Three fall under the category of Language Foundation. These Stages are sequential in nature and should be approached this way.

Stages Four through Seven fall under a second category, Academic Discovery. These Stages are not strictly sequential in nature. For example, a student may be working simultaneously on reading in Stage Five and writing in Stage Seven. The Stages are not age- or grade-specific.

Stage One: Cause and Effect
The Stage One learner begins to understand that an input device controls the computer.

Stage Two: Language Readiness
The Stage Two learner begins to understand that objects have names and actions have words to express them. The learner is not asked to identify objects, but simply to absorb information.

Stage Three: Emerging Language
The learner demonstrates an understanding of everyday language. This is the first Stage in which the learner is asked to respond to a question based on a prompt.

Stage Four: Early Concepts
The Stage Four learner is now ready to explore beginning academic and social skills to show what has been learned.

Stage Five: Advanced Concepts and Communication
The learner expands basic literacy and math skills and works with classmates in other traditional curriculum areas such as science, geography and history.

Stage Six: Functional Learning
The Stage Six learner is interested in the world and begins to connect academic and social skills to become more independent.

Stage Seven: Written Expression
The Stage Seven learner works toward mastery of writing skills, moving from letter and sound association to full independent composition.

During this hands-on training, participants will spend the first half of the session exploring assessment activities within each of the seven stages. They will take note of the program's automatic record keeping, sample IEP objectives, observation forms, and software recommendations based on learner performance for each stage.

During the second half of the training session, case studies of students using the Stages program will be presented and reviewed. These will include video taped sessions of learners and teachers from school districts in the United States.

As written in the Journal of Special Education Technology, "Stages is an excellent resource and a must for any professional using a computer in their classroom. The applicability of the information reaches beyond students with special needs..." (Gilson Capilouto, JSET 11/00).

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2003 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.