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Help/FAQ About the COR

Who should complete the COR?

The COR is most useful when filled out by the staff members most familiar with the children — the teachers or caregivers. Parents are encouraged to contribute observations they have recorded as well. If the COR is to be used in research, outside observers may be trained to make observations and to complete the COR.

Is training necessary for COR users?
To assist those who are new to COR assessment in completed the COR accurately and developing effective assessment strategies, we recommend High/Scope COR training. High/Scope offers several COR training options, including workshops at High/Scope headquarters, on-site workshops, and an online workshop. To request additional information on COR training contact our us at [email protected] or visit the Professional Development section of our Web site.

When should you complete the COR?
Classroom or center staff should complete the COR two or three times a program year — for example, as the year begins, halfway through, and as the year ends. The timing for completing the COR depends on the specific evaluation concerns of the user. The COR may be used as often as you wish to document children's developmental status and progress. Head Start programs, for example, are required to complete their assessment three times during the program year.

Where do staff members get the information to complete the COR?
Information for COR ratings comes from the daily, ongoing anecdotal notes kept by teachers or caregivers and from items the child may have made or produced. We recommend that programs using the print version of the COR use the Child Anecdotes booklet as an organized way to maintain records of child observations, but programs may also develop their own forms for note taking. The CD-ROM and Web versions of the COR have a built-in system for managing anecdotes.

How many anecdotes do teacher or caregivers have to write each day?
There is no minimum or maximum number of anecdotes staff members should collect each day. It is not realistic to attempt to write notes in every category, on every child, every day. Recording anecdotes for some children every day is a realistic goal, however. Staff members may also consider focusing on a particular COR category or an areas of the setting each day.

Can an anecdote or child work sample apply to more than one COR item?
Yes! Teachers or caregivers often find that certain anecdotes or portfolio items can be used as supporting evidence for two or more COR items. These anecdotes may be cross-referenced on the anecdote forms or in the computer files.

Are there shortcuts to writing and scoring anecdotes?

The more teachers or caregivers use the COR, the easier the process will become. If they invest some time in the beginning becoming familiar with the different categories and items, they will find that the task no longer seems overwhelming. Each team must be creative and find out what works best for them.

How much time should staff members expect to spend every day to do the COR?

Throughout the day, teachers or caregivers should be jotting down very brief notes about what they see children doing. Altogether, this should take only a few minutes. The process of transforming rough notes to formal notes (entered in the Child Anecdotes booklet, in the computer, online, or in the file system the program has set up) can be accomplished in 20 to 45 minutes daily. 

At the same time, however, teachers or caregivers should be planning or modifying the next day's activities based on what they have observed. For example, if they have noted that a child or several children were very involved with filling and emptying containers of water that day, they might decide to add additional materials for filling and emptying (for example, corks, beans, plastic peanuts, oats, and various containers). The time staff members spend on COR-related tasks gradually becomes a natural part of observing, interacting with, and planning for children. As they become more experienced with COR assessment, staff members eventually see COR note taking and planning as work that enhances the time they spend with children rather than an extra job that takes them away from more important things.

Does the COR help with lesson plans?
The COR instruments are designed to represent a comprehensive cross-section of the activities we can expect children to engage in as they develop from infancy to age 6. Observing for these developmentally normal activities will produce a comprehensive portrait of each child's abilities. If, however, teachers or caregivers find they have gaps in the COR notes and materials they have been assembling, they can use this knowledge to select materials that are likely to provide experiences in that category or item. Regular use of the COR allows staff members to make plans related to the children's interests they observed that day rather than to an arbitrarily selected topic. The materials staff members select will provide an opportunity for the children to try out abilities and experiences staff have not observed up to that point.

Will all children show growth in all areas?Some children will show significant growth in certain COR categories while seeming to stand still in others. Other children will show a relatively steady growth across most categories. Some children are ready to read as early as 3 or 4 years of age, while others are not ready until first or second grade. These kinds of differences also occur in other areas of development such as movement, mathematics, and social abilities. These are natural developmental differences you may expect with any group of children.

What is the meaning of the item levels? Does a level 3 mean all 3 year-olds should score at a level 3?

There is no correlation between level 3 and age 3 or between level 4 and age 4. The five levels that follow each item represent stages of development. The behaviors associated with each level go from simple (1), to more complex (5). Although the item levels are not intended to be associated with age, there certainly will be times when a 3 year-old is assigned a level 3.

Are there age norms for the COR?
We recommend against using age norms for infants, toddlers, or preschool children, and we do not provide them for the COR. It is all to easy to misuse age-related information: age norms, such as the percentage of children scoring at a particular level, can create narrow expectations for children, particularly when norms are used with young children. The pace of development varies greatly from individual to individual, so that a child's status on certain traits and abilities at particular ages is not very predictive of his or her later status on the same traits and abilities. It is usually a mistake to place children in particular programs based on age-related scores, because their scores on a particular ability relative to their peers' could shift in the next month, or even the next week.

Why don't some anecdotes fit into any of the COR categories?

Teachers or caregivers may find that they collect some anecdotes that don't happen to fit with any of the items on the Infant-Toddler or Preschool COR but do tell them a lot about a child's understanding of the world, his or her interests, and the best ways to support that child. This does not mean that the information is any less valuable, just that it doesn't fit into the COR.

What about numerical scores? Since parents grew up with them and are accustomed to seeing them on their older children's assessments, parents often expect to see a score of some kind — even for a preschooler.
Space is not provided on the Family Report form for COR levels because these numbers do not convey useful information for parents. We believe it is more useful to keep the information we share with parents anecdotal, because of the detailed pictures these observations provide. The use of actual information about the individual child is something that parents grow to understand and value.

Can the Preschool COR be used in Head Start? How does the COR align with the Head Start Outcomes Framework?

The Preschool COR was developed with Head Start requirements in mind and it is highly compatible with Head Start's approach to child development and assessment. The COR categories, items, and levels, align with the Domains, Elements, and Indicators of the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework. The CD-ROM and Web versions of the COR automatically translate COR data into Head Start Outcomes reports. Head Start programs can thus use the COR to expedite their assessment and reporting process.

Can COR assessment be used for children with special needs?
The Preschool and Infant-Toddler COR are based on developmental levels, not chronological age. Using a combination of the Infant-Toddler and Preschool COR, you can evaluate the abilities of a child with special needs in a full developmental range. While we have not analyzed COR use in the exclusive population of children with special needs, the tool is an authentic assessment that is based on developmental levels that can be used with this population. We have heard from many special educators who feel the COR adapts well to their assessment needs.

Can I use the COR to assist me in developing an IEP (Individualized Education Plan)?

As special education programs increasingly move toward forming objectives that reflect developmentally appropriate practices, they find that the traditional methods for assessing and writing IEPs for the children in their programs are unsatisfactory. This may be solved by organizing procedures for child observation, assessment, and IEP development around the COR. Teachers who have tried this with the COR have reported positive results; in some districts all teachers are using COR-based IEPs. These COR-based reports look a bit different than those in standard IEPs. They not only include such traditional IEP areas as gross- and fine-motor development, language, concepts, self-help, and social-emotional development, but also highlight such nontraditional areas as problem-solving, expressing emotion, and expressing initiative.

Can the COR be used used as a screening instrument to determine placement or eligibility for special services?
The COR is not designed to screen children for problems and deficits. Rather, it is an observational assessment instrument that documents children's growth over time based on evidence in the form of anecdotes and child creations. By contrast, screening instruments do not use anecdotes or work samples as evidence but instead rely on data collected as children perform a set of standardized tasks. While COR data is collected and scored over a period of months, screening instruments are typically administered one time, with the results often used to make high-stakes decisions.

Can the COR be used to evaluate early childhood staff?
The COR is not designed to be used for teacher or caregiver evaluation. As mentioned above, the COR is primarily intended to document children's growth over time. However, the Preschool COR can be used along with High/Scope's Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA), as part of a teacher evaluation. An infant-toddler version of the PQA is in development.

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