4240.0.55.001 - National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/03/2013   
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In 2012, the Northern Territory (NT) was responsible for one data collection in relation to preschool services, the Age/Grade Census, which collected data using a Unit Record Level (URL) data collection methodology.

Age/Grade Census

The 2012 Age/Grade Census consisted of three components:

  • Student Census
  • Staff Census
  • Preschool Census (Students and Staff)

Institutional Environment
The organisation responsible for the Age/Grade Census was the NT Department of Education (DECS). Data for the Age/Grade Census were collected under the Education Act (NT).

The data collected from the Age/Grade Census enables reporting on NT schools and the early childhood education sector for a variety of reporting requirements. The preschool data collected from this census are used for the National Preschool Census and the Report on Government Services, as well as government budget paper estimates and the NT DECS annual report.

Scope: The scope of the Age/Grade Census for the early childhood component of the census consisted of all children enrolled in a preschool program that attended a government or registered non-government preschool at least once during the four week period prior to the one week reference period (30 July – 3 August 2012).

The scope for data provided on workers included all paid workers employed in government and registered non-government preschools and who were registered with the NT Teacher Registration Board. Workers were included irrespective of whether they delivered a preschool program during the reference period.

Coverage: All government and registered non-government preschools participated in the Age/Grade Census, which collected data using a URL collection methodology. Although the data collection methodology utilised for non-government preschools differed from that applied to government preschools, the data collected were at the same level of detail and were comparable with data from government preschools.

Long Day Care centres that deliver a preschool program were not within scope of the 2012 Age/Grade Census, therefore the Child Care Management System (CCMS) was utilised for coverage of this sector.

Data collection methods: The 2012 Age/Grade Census collected data using a URL data collection methodology for the following statistical entities:
  • Child: data at the child record level
  • Service provider organisation: data at the service provider record level
  • Worker: data at the worker record level

The Age/Grade Census is an annual collection and in 2012 was undertaken on 3 August 2012. Information gathered for the Preschool Census component of the collection related to the reference period of 30 July to 3 August 2012. Completion of data processing and validation stages took approximately 2 to 3 months after the collection date, at which time the data were delivered to the ABS.

Data sourced from the Age/Grade Census for the purposes of the National ECEC Collection are published by the ABS in Preschool Education, Australia, 2012 (cat. no 4240.0).

In 2012 data extracts from the Age/Grade Census of child, teacher and service provider record level information were submitted from each government and some non-government schools’ Student Administration and Management System (SAMS). Some non-government schools provided data via Excel spread sheets. Additional data were collected through an online survey tool and data from both sources were processed centrally for inclusion in the census collection.

Teacher level data: Teachers were required to provide details on their field of highest qualification relevant to early childhood education and care. NT DECS considered all teachers registered with the NT Teacher Registration Board as four year equivalent qualified teachers.

After data were processed by NT DECS, school principals were required to check the data, edit if necessary, and confirm accuracy. Business rules guided the processing of data. All three components of the Age/Grade Census required formal sign-off from school principals for the final data lodgement, stating it was a true and accurate representation of their school for the reference period. This ensured the quality and validity of the data being provided. Internal validation of the Preschool Census (Student and Staff) was undertaken using a system that outlined how to validate and edit data.

Detailed validation processes used by NT DECS in 2012 were as follows:
  • schools validation: schools were provided with a validation report through the Business Intelligence Centre and were required to confirm the information was correct
  • performance and data management validation: the validation process included historical comparison of trends, comparison of enrolments and schooling level proportions, cross checking missing data and application of national reporting rules. Schools were also required to carry out validation reporting to maintain data quality, targeting such areas as child Indigenous status, gender and age.

For the purposes of the National ECEC Collection, data collected through the 2012 NT Age/Grade Census were comparable with data collected in 2011, as both collections were undertaken using a consistent URL data collection methodology.

Specific data elements collected using methods which did not align with the ECEC National Minimum Data Set (ECEC NMDS) specifications are outlined below and should be taken into account when analysing the data collected. An analysis of the coherence of this collection with other jurisdictional collections should be undertaken on an individual basis, taking into account any data elements that are not consistent with the ECEC NMDS specifications. Deviations between the 2012 ECEC NMDS and data collected from the Age/Grade Census, are outlined in table 6.7.


Data ElementDetails of Deviation

Preschool program hours attended (Child)This data element was not available in 2012.

Area of usual residence (CD) (Child)Geo-coding for some child addresses was less accurate where instances of remote residences or street names were not supplied.
For those children in remote localities who did not have an address recorded, the address of the remote preschool was supplied as a proxy.

Date of birth (Child)Where date of birth was unavailable, it was estimated at 01/01/YYYY.

Geographic location of organisation (CD) (Service provider)Geo-coding for some remote preschool addresses was less accurate where street address was not supplied.

Maximum preschool hours available (Service provider)Care should be taken with interpretation of this data element as for some schools, this represents the average number of hours per week that the preschool service is available to children, while for other schools, this represents actual hours per week per student,

Counts of Children:
It is possible for a child to be concurrently enrolled in and attending two or more preschool programs and attend preschool across years. In order to address collection requirements, it is important to be able to identify matched episode records for a child, both within a collection cycle and between years accurately.

Children in a Preschool Program in 2012:
      For NT, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in 2012 were able to be derived as data were collected using a URL data collection methodology.

Children in a Preschool Program in the Year before Full-time Schooling:
      As NT had two or more years of comparable data collected using a URL methodology and had a child/client database, counts of children enrolled in and attending preschool programs in the year before full-time schooling were also able to be derived.

The NT provided a range of information to assist in the collection and reporting of data, such as manuals and fact sheets, to support correct interpretation and definition of concepts. Detailed reports and instructional papers on the requirements, processes and rules for submitting data through the Age/Grade Census were provided to service providers to assist with data provision. Information sourced can be obtained on the NT DECS website http://www.det.nt.gov.au/.

Data sourced from the Age/Grade Census for the 2012 National ECEC Collection are published at the state and territory level in Preschool Education, Australia, 2012 (cat. no 4240.0) on the ABS website.

Information Source
The information contained within this report has been sourced from NT DECS in consultation with the ABS. Further information is available at the NT DECS website: http://www.det.nt.gov.au/.

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