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Home » Student Success » Special Education » Early Childhood » Early Childhood Outcomes (Indicator 7)

Early Childhood Outcomes (Indicator 7)

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Special Education


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)

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.

Early Child Outcome Resources

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.

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) 

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.

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.

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Online Learning Modules

This online learning module provided through the ECTA Center 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:

  • Children have positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships).
  • Children acquire and use knowledge and skills (including early language/ communication and early literacy).
  • Children use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.

To set the stage for what you will learn in this module, view the Child Outcomes Step-by-Step video (Edelman, 2011). The 9-minute video shows the three child outcomes in action. Free registration may be required to view these modules.

Child Outcomes Summary-Team Collaboration (COS-TC) Quality Practice Checklist and Descriptions: Online Practice
This brief, minute-and-a-half video provides the background and purpose for the Child Outcomes Summary Teacher Collaboration (COS-TC) Toolkit (available on the ECTA website) and our new Online Practice.

This online learning site offers Early Intervention and Early Childhood Special Education providers an online copy of the COS-TC quality practice checklist and descriptions, and provides opportunities to practice with the checklist and descriptions by watching video clips of COS team meetings with families and rating the extent to which providers in the video used COS-TC quality practices.

The content is intended for those providers who have completed the COS Process Module: Collecting & Using Data to Improve Programs, as well as for trainers supporting teams in the COS process. By providers we mean professionals working with children and families in early learning and development programs to improve outcomes for young children with disabilities.

Published by: ECTA Center, DaSy Center, and Educational & Developmental Intervention Services

DaSy Center - Supporting Children By Improving Family Outcomes