What is a Preschool Child Observation Record (COR)?

How educators track, "What did my students learn today?"

Childhood Observation Record
Your preschooler's development might be marked on a Childhood Observation Record, or COR, depending on the preschool. ImagesBazaar/Vetta/Getty Images

Preschool teachers, administrators, and other early childhood education experts have a host of tools in their arsenals to evaluate and record the progress​ and trajectory of their students. One such tool is the Child Observation Record, or COR

The COR is an authentic way of assessing a child's development, primarily used by schools that employ the HighScope method, although it can be used by anyone wishing to evaluate the learning skills of a preschooler.

While complex, with many categories to fill out, the primary goal of the COR is to answer: "What Did They Learn Today?"

High Scope educators or those interested in using High Scope's methods can subscribe to their proprietary software for their students. While families wouldn't necessarily subscribe, there is a family section where parents and caregivers can access a library, view photos, and other information that the teachers have shared.  

There are six categories in the Preschool COR and within categories are lists of 32 items to observe. Everything is broken down further into eight developmental levels that range from (1) simple to (5) more complex.

The COR is an ongoing process. Teachers observe the preschooler in class on a daily basis and then write down anecdotes that describe what the child did. Observations can include what and how a child played, who they played with, questions they asked, and any other anecdotal information that is helpful to chart the child's development.

Behavior is recorded as well. For the most part, the notes are then inputted into the computer and then rated into the categories, items and levels, but some schools still use paper files. In addition, copies of any work the student did is attached to the file either digitally or with hard copies. 

The thinking is that these series of notes, over time will provide a vision of the child as a whole, including developmental milestones, successes, and problems. By recording these authentic observations in real time (teachers are highly encouraged to fill out an observational record of their students weekly at a minimum, daily is preferred), the hope is that educators will have meaningful information and data about students that can be used to further enrich their academic progression, as well as create relevant, meaningful lesson plans for future learning.

For example, if a child spends some time during playtime building a block tower, the teacher may observe that child was able to stack up 10 blocks before it fell down. If the next time the child builds a tower and stops at eight blocks, the teacher can encourage the student to keep going and remind them what they worked on the previous time. 

There are CORs for different age groups. The Preschool COR is used to assess children 2½ to 6 years old while the Infant-Toddler COR is for children between the ages of 6 weeks and 3 years.

There is also a COR for kindergarten students that is divided into two parts: Kindergarten Entry Assessment, which measures a student's development before they start kindergarten and  the Ongoing Assessment, which takes place throughout the year and determines how well the student is completing the Common Core State Standards.

There is a cost involved for using HighScope's COR software. 

On the Web:
HighScope Official Site
HighScope U.K.

Also Known As: COR, Preschool Child Observation Record

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