CHILD OUTCOMES SUMMARY (COS) PROCESS (A collection of resources that provide information on completing the COS process.) (Indicator 7)


Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must report the percentage of preschool children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who demonstrate improved:

  1. Positive social-emotional skills (including social relationships),
  2. Acquisition and use of knowledge and skills (including early language/communication and early literacy), and
  3. Use of appropriate behavior to meet needs.

States are required to measure and report on the progress children make between the time they enter a program and the time they exit in each of the outcome areas. Data are to be reported for all children who stay in the program at least 6 months. To report data, states must have information about children's functioning at these two time points and have a way to examine the level of improvement or progress in functioning between the time points.

The Child Outcomes Summary Process (COS) is a team process for summarizing information related to a child’s progress on each of the three child outcome areas. The COS process is an effective way to use multiple sources of information to describe a child’s function on each outcome area. 

 The COS process is NOT an assessment instrument. It is a process used for summarizing across multiple sources of information about the child. Using the COS process does not require that programs collect more data about children’s progress; it is a mechanism that allows programs to summarize assessment information for federal reporting as well as for their own purposes, such as for accountability, program planning, and program improvement.

For more information on the COS process, please review the Overview of the Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process

The resources below provide information to understand and utilize the COS process.

COS Process Training Modules

Online Modules: Child Outcome Summary (COS) Process and Practices

Online Module: The Decision Tree, Indicator 7; Outcome 1: Children have age-appropriate social relationships.

Online Module: The Decision Tree, Indicator 7; Outcome 2: Children acquire and use knowledge and skills.

Online Module: The Decision Tree, Indicator 7; Outcome 3: Children use appropriate behaviors to meet their needs.

A comprehensive online module has been developed jointly by the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSY) to support those who provide instruction or related services to infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities.  The module provides key information about the COS process, and the practices that contribute to consistent and meaningful COS decision-making. The course can be used by an individual or can be used to provide professional development to a group.

Over the course of multiple sessions, participants will learn about:

•why child outcomes data are collected;

•the key features of the COS process;

•the essential knowledge needed to complete the COS process;

•how the three child outcomes are measured through the process;

•how to identify accurate COS ratings using a team-based process;

•the importance of comparing children’s current functional performance to age-expected functioning;

•when and how to measure progress in the three child outcome areas; and

•how each rating, and the evidence that supports the rating, should be documented on the Child Outcome Summary Form (COS).

Users must register to access the sessions. Participants will be automatically redirected to the module after registering. The module is self-paced, so practitioners may access it as often as desired. Participants will need to save the registration information and link to the course for future use.

COS Documents

Virginia’s Child Outcomes Summary Form - This form may be used by teams to document the child’s entry and exit ratings as well as sources of information and supporting evidence for the rating.

Decision Tree for Summary Rating Discussions - The Decision Tree can be used to assist teams when determining a rating and are completing the Outcomes Summary Form.

Definitions for Outcome Ratings (7 scale definitions) -This document provides a definition of each of the seven ratings and is to be used when completing the Outcomes Summary Form.

COS Discussion Prompts - The Discussion Prompts provide questions to guide your discussions with family members, other IEP team members, or others who can provide information on the child’s skills and abilities across a variety of settings and activities.  It can be used when teams complete the Outcomes Summary Form.

Early Childhood Outcomes Conversation Starters - The Conversation Starters provide questions to guide your discussions with family members, other IEP team members, or others who can provide information on the child’s skills and abilities across a variety of settings and activities.  It can be used when teams complete the Outcomes Summary Form.

A Family Guide to Participating in the Child Outcomes Measurement Process (PACER) - This brochure was developed by the National Parent Technical Assistance Center at PACER in collaboration with the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and provides a family friendly overview of the Child Outcomes

Fidelity of the COS Process

The ECTA website provides many resources to help with division level personnel to increase the fidelity of the COS process.

Child Outcome Summary Process Self-Assessment  - This tool is a self-assessment intended to be used by division personnel involved in the OSEP Child Outcomes Summary process. It can be used by individuals or as part of a peer review process to reflect upon the extent to which the process used by the program meets the quality expectations of the state.  

Guidance for Reviewing Completed Child Outcomes Summary Forms for Quality Assurance from ECTA Center  - This link provides guidance on how to check the completeness and accuracy of a COS form. The guidance includes checks to see whether users understand the three outcomes and the 7-point rating scale, how to document the rating, and whether the documentation supports the rating.

Child Outcomes Summary Team Collaboration Toolkit is designed to assist states and programs in improving the COS team collaboration. Built around a checklist of quality practices, the COS-TC is a toolkit that provides a mechanism for those who implement, supervise, or train on the COS process to identify, observe, and assess recommended team collaboration practices in COS implementation. It underscores ways to actively  engage families as critical members in the COS process; however, much of the content is applicable for all COS teams, regardless of their composition.