Early Childhood Outcomes (Indicator 7)
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Special Education

Early Childhood Outcomes - Indicator 7

The federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) requires local school districts to report outcomes data for every child in preschool who receives special education services. Early childhood outcomes data are collected when a child begins to receive special education services (usually around age 3) and again when the child exits from preschool special education. Additional information about early childhood outcomes reporting can be found on this parent information publication.

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA Center) website
This is the national technical assistance center funded by the Office of Special Education Programs. The website offers a comprehensive set of resources for state and local administrators, teachers, and families related to implementation of a high-quality outcomes system for early childhood special education programs.

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Online Learning Modules (provided through the ECTA Center)
This online learning module is designed to prepare early intervention and early childhood special education staff to use the Child Outcomes Summary (COS) process to describe how children are doing on three child outcomes:

Early Child Outcome Resources (direct link to ECTA Center)
The Child Outcomes Summary (COS) affords a means by which providers can summarize information collected from multiple sources to address the three child outcomes. The 7-point rating scale is used to determine the extent to which a child's functioning on each outcome is appropriate given his or her age, and whether that child made progress toward age appropriate behavior. The summary is intended for local, state, and federal data collection, reporting, and program improvement.

The Child Outcomes Summary (COS) with Evidence Organized by Level of Functioning
ECO developed the COS with Evidence Organized by Level of Functioning based on feedback from users of the original form who requested additional guidance in documenting the rating. Please see also Guidance for Documenting the Rating on the Childhood Outcomes Summary (COS) with Evidence Organized by Level of Functioning. This document guides the user in writing specific examples of functioning, depending upon the rating given, in the supporting evidence boxes.

  • COS with Evidence Organized by Level of Functioning (October 15, 2009) Word | PDF
  • Instructions on the use of the COS (May 26, 2009) Word | PDF
  • Outcomes Ratings Definitions (May 21, 2009) Word | PDF
  • Child Outcomes Summary Form (COS) (OSPI, Excel)
    Form to use for annual submission of district-wide entry and exit data to OSPI
  • Frequently Asked Questions (OSPI, revised August 2015, PDF)
    This document provides information on early childhood outcomes reporting based on questions from Washington school districts.
  • Child Outcomes Rating Tool – How to calculate progress and get rid of those ‘impossible’ messages

The Decision Tree

The decision tree was created as a tool for training in the use of the COS Form. The tree is a series of questions about the extent to which a child exhibits age-appropriate skills and behaviors in each outcome area. Responses guide the user to a specific rating category on the 7-point scale. The decision tree was updated in May 2009 based on input from the COS Training Consortium.

In January 2011, the decision tree without numbers was developed for programs wishing to de-emphasize the numbers on the scale, to be used in particular when families are directly involved in the team discussion that describes their child’s level of functioning. This version replicates the original decision tree with the exception that the numbers of the rating scale, 1-7, were removed.

  • Decision Tree (June 1, 2009) Word | PDF
  • Decision Tree without Numbers Word | PDF

Contact Information

(360) 725-6075
(360) 586-0247 Fax

A Guide to Assessment in Early Learning: Infancy to Age Eight
A Guide to Assessment in Early Learning:
Infancy to Age Eight
(PDF, 204 pages)

Early Learning and Development Guidelines
Early Learning and Development Guidelines
(PDF, 152 pages)


   Updated 2/24/2016

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