Improving Systems, Practices and Outcomes

Child Outcomes Summary (COS) Process

Photograph: A female toddler holds up the end of a carrot during snack time. (Photograph by Alex Lazara)

The Child Outcomes Summary (COS) process is a team process for summarizing information on a child’s functioning in each of the three child outcome areas using a PDF: 7-point scale. With the COS process, a team of individuals who are familiar with a child (including parents) can consider multiple sources of information about his/her functioning, including parent/provider observation and results from direct assessment. Additionally, the COS process allows early intervention and early childhood special education programs to synthesize information about children across different assessment tools to produce data that can be summarized across programs in the state, as well as across states for a national picture. The ECTA Center developed a print resource providing PDF: Overview of the COS Process.

COS Process Online Module: Collecting & Using Data to Improve Programs

The ECTA Center and WWW: DaSy Center developed an online learning module that provides key information about the COS process, and the practices that contribute to consistent and meaningful COS decision-making. Over the course of multiple sessions, participants 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 to document ratings and evidence to support those ratings in COS documentation.

After registering for the module, you will be automatically redirected to its website. The module is self-paced, so you may access it as often as desired. For additional training materials related to the COS process, see the ECTA Center's COS Professional Development Resources.

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Converting COS Data to OSEP Progress Categories/Summary Statements

Can't see the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.

Many states use the COS process to collect child outcomes data for federal reporting purposes. The ECTA and WWW: DaSy Centers developed WWW: this online interactive that explains how the data obtained from the COS process is converted to the child outcomes data that states report annually to the federal government.

  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education

The ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile     © 2012-2020 ECTA Center

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute