Saturday, September 02, 2006
Stages Software Solutions for Learners with Special Needs
It's the beginning of a new school year! For those new to the field of assistive technology and learners with special needs, it's time to mention an excellent software program developed by a wonderful friend and mentor, Madalaine Pugliese. Stages is a developmental framework for describing a student's language and cognitive abilities and helps to assess and document change over time. In addition, possible curriculum activities that promote student achievement are included with the Stages manual. The website includes a database that correlates the stages of language and cognitive skills with specific software solutions. Some schools use this tool in combination with the Stages Report Wizard to create alternate assessment portfolios which objectively demonstrate changes over time. The Stages website also includes information about how Stages activities correlate to State standards.
I have used Stages with learners at all seven stages of cognitive and language development. One of the most gratifying experiences was when I worked with a 14 year old, non-verbal student with Stage One activities. How incredible it was to see the student respond to and engage with the material and maintain visual attention in a way that was not typically seen in the classroom!
Stages Assessment Software is highly recommended to help IEP teams address the needs of learners with language and cognitive challenges. It should be part of the Assistive Technology team's tool box in every district!