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4240.0 - Preschool Education, Australia, 2012 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2013   
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MEASUREMENT CONCEPTS


INTRODUCTION

The National Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Collection aims to report accurately on the number of children who have received a preschool program within the collection reference period. To achieve this, an important goal of the collection is to count each child once in the total number of children within each jurisdiction who are enrolled in and attending preschool programs. Given the complexity of the service delivery models for ECEC across Australia, it is a statistical challenge to ensure that children attending multiple preschool programs are only counted once in these total counts.


COLLECTION METHODS

Jurisdictions collect and report data for the National ECEC Collection using either a Unit Record Level (URL) collection methodology or combination of URL and Aggregate collection methodologies.

A URL data collection methodology supports the collection of information at the individual child, worker and teacher level, and at the service provider organisation level.

An Aggregate data collection methodology supports the collection of information on child and teacher data at the service provider level. For this collection, aggregate data can only be presented in terms of episodes of preschool program delivery. An episode is the count of the occurrence for a specific characteristic. For the National ECEC Collection, an episode refers to a preschool program provided to a child. When one child attends two different preschool programs, the child is attending two episodes of preschool.

All jurisdictions were able to collect worker data using the URL data collection methodology.

The following table shows the collection methodologies used by each jurisdiction in 2012.

11 Jurisdictional Data Collection Methodologies, 2012

Jurisdiction Collection Method

Australian Government Unit Record Level
New South Wales Unit Record Level
Victoria Unit Record Level
Queensland Unit Record Level / Aggregate(a)
South Australia Unit Record Level
Western Australia Unit Record Level(b)
Tasmania Unit Record Level
Northern Territory Unit Record Level
Australian Capital Territory Unit Record Level

(a) Qld. collected data from a number of unfunded preschools using an Aggregate data collection methodology
(b) WA provided some Aggregate data as pseudo URL data for a small number of Community preschools


A URL collection with appropriate methodologies and protocols is the most appropriate method for ensuring a child who is enrolled in multiple preschool programs is only counted once in child level estimates. Aggregate data collection methodologies are limited in their capacity to identify children attending multiple preschool programs. Consequently all data from jurisdictions with a collection process that produced Aggregate data for the 2012 National ECEC Collection could only be presented in terms of episodes of preschool program provision.


CHILD EPISODE COUNTS

When one child attends two different preschool programs, the child is attending two episodes of preschool. Both episodes are counted for the total episodes of enrolment and attendance in a preschool program.

The concept of child episode produces the largest count of observations as it includes multiple counting of individual children who received 2 or more separate episodes of preschool during the reference period.


UNIQUE CHILD COUNTS

Identification of Unique Child Counts

The unique count of children represents the count of children, irrespective of the number of separate preschool programs at different service providers any one child may be enrolled in. Only unique child records are included in the count for the total number of children enrolled in and attending a preschool program.

In a given year, the enrolment and attendance counts of unique children will be:
  • less than or equal to the enrolment and attendance counts of child episodes, and
  • greater than or equal to the enrolment and attendance counts of children in the year before full-time schooling.

Identification of unique child records can only be achieved by application of a Statistical Linkage Key (SLK) and a child/client database. For the National ECEC Collection, child records with identical SLKs are flagged and investigated in the child/client database. This process confirms whether the matching SLK relates to the same child enrolled in multiple preschool programs, or whether the SLK was a coincidental match (i.e. another child with a similar SLK).

Alternatively, where no child/client database is available, a matching methodology is applied to determine matching SLKs. Where matches are considered to be dual enrolments, the information is combined accordingly into a unique child record, with totals for hours attended and enrolled, fees charged and maximum preschool program hours available. If the matching SLK is considered to be a coincidental match, both records are retained as individual unique child records.


Identification of Unique Child Records in the Year before Full-time Schooling (YBFS)

For the 2012 National ECEC Collection, children who were enrolled for more than one year of a preschool program were identified and if these children were aged 5 or 6 years old, their records were excluded from the YBFS population. Those 4 year old children who were previously enrolled in a preschool program were not excluded, because they would not have been attending a program intended for children in the YBFS in the previous year (i.e. they would have been attending preschool as a 3 year old child in 2011, but were out of scope to be included in the count of children enrolled in, and attending in the YBFS population).

Operationally, for the 2012 National ECEC Collection, the identification of unique child records in the YBFS could only be achieved when 2 years of data had been collected using a URL data collection methodology and, a preschool repeater indicator applied through a jurisdictional child/client database.

If the preschool repeater flag had been supplied by data providers (indicating that the child is a repeater on either the jurisdictional or CCMS files), and the child was five years old as at the 1 July age reference date, the child was not included in the tables presenting the 'Children in the Year Before Full-time Schooling'.


EPISODES OF WORKERS

The tables presented using this concept only include episode counts of workers delivering preschool programs and episode counts of all workers who have contact with children in a preschool program. In 2012 it was not possible to identify workers who worked for more than one service provider. Therefore, episode counts of workers may include multiple instances of the same worker across service providers.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information on these measurement concepts see National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 4240.0.55.001) or the Explanatory Notes section of this publication. For instructions and guidelines to assist in using the publication see National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Data Collection Guide (cat. no. 4240.0.55.002).

Further disaggregation of children enrolled in and attending preschools are contained in data cubes available from the ABS website http://www.abs.gov.au


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