HighScope's educational approach emphasizes “active participatory learning.” Active learning means students have direct, hands-on experiences with people, objects, events, and ideas. Children’s interests and choices are at the heart of HighScope programs. They construct their own knowledge through interactions with the world and the people around them. Children take the first step in the learning process by making choices and following through on their plans and decisions. Teachers, caregivers, and parents offer physical, emotional, and intellectual support. In active learning settings, adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions. Through scaffolding, adults help children gain knowledge and develop creative problem-solving skills.

HighScope uses the term scaffolding to describe the process whereby adults support and gently extend children's thinking and reasoning. HighScope teachers carefully observe children so they know when and how to enter this zone. Children must be secure and confident in what they already know before they are ready to move to the next level. When HighScope says adults support and extend children’s learning, it means that the adults first validate, or support, what children already know, and then, when the time is right, gently encourage them to extend their thinking to the next level.


HighScope assesses children’s development with comprehensive observations rather than narrow tests using COR Advantage, HighScope's research-validated child assessment tool that spans from infancy through kindergarten. Observing a broad range of behaviors over several weeks or months gives us a more accurate picture of children’s true capabilities than tests administered in one-time sessions. Using the content areas as a framework, teachers record daily anecdotes describing what children do and say. Children’s COR Advantage scores help teachers design learning opportunities tailored to their level of development. COR Advantage is also used to explain children’s progress to parents during conferences. Instead of only giving parents abstract scores, teachers share anecdotes illustrating what their children are doing now and how they will continue to grow. HighScope has also used this assessment instrument in state and national research projects to investigate the effectiveness of our educational approach and to compare it to other curriculum models

You can read more about Highscope and COR here