Analyzing Process Quality of Early Childhood Education with Many Facet Rash Measurement Model

Quality of early childhood education institutions specifically, dimensions of process quality should be evaluated. Purpose of this study is to analyze process quality of early childhood education by using many-facet Rasch measurement model (MFRM). In
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  ERSOY / ‹lkö¤retim Program›n›n (1-5. S›n›flar) Uygulanmas›na ‹liflkin Aile Görüflleri  • 25  Analyzing Process Quality of Early Childhood Education with Many Facet Rash Measurement Model  Ramazan BAfiTÜRK*, Nesrin IfiIKO⁄LU** Abstract Quality of early childhood education institutions specifically, dimensions of processquality should be evaluated. Purpose of this study is to analyze process quality of early childhood education by usingmany-facet Rasch measurement model (MFRM).In this study, data were collected from twelve early childhood education institutionsby four independent judges. Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECER)was used to evaluate the process quality of the institutions.MFRM was applied toanalyze the data.The results indicated that early childhood education institutionswere below the desirable level of process quality. It has been found that judges exhi-bited similar behaviors and when item statistics were examined they served the pur-pose of the evaluation. Standardized measurement tools and measurement modelswere recommended to increase process quality of early childhood education. Key Words Many-Facet Rasch Measurement Model, Judges Bias, Early Childhood EducationQuality. © 2008E¤itim Dan›flmanl›¤› ve Araflt›rmalar› ‹letiflim Hizmetleri Tic. Ltd. fiti. *Correspondence  : Assist. Prof.Dr. Ramazan BAfiTÜRK, Pamukkale University Faculty of Education,Department of Educational Sciences, Incilip›nar, 20020 DenizliE-mail:** Assist. Prof.Dr. Nesrin IfiIKO⁄LU, Pamukkale University Faculty of Education, Department of Early Childhood Education Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice 8  (1) • January 2008• 25-32  With the purpose of reaching early childhood schooling rate of de-veloped countries, studies have beencontinued to widespread early childhood education in Turkey(MEB, 2006a; MEB, 2006b). Despite quantitative increase in thenumber of early childhood institutions, the current number of chil-dren attending centre-based ECE programmes is, approximately 16percent (MEB, 2007). Along with increasing quantity of early child-hood schools, the quality of the early childhood education instituti-ons specifically providing developmentally appropriate practicesshould be taken into consideration.It is obvious that high quality early childhood education has positi-ve effects on children. In the cost, quality, and outcomes study, Pe-isner-Feinberg, Burchinal, Clifford & Yazejian, (1999) stated thathigh quality child care services was significantly related to chil-dren’s school readiness, academic success, cognitive progress andsocial development as well as children who experienced better qua-lity child care were more advanced in their development into theearly elementary years. Additionally, researches showed that chil-dren enrolled in good quality childhood programs tend to be moresuccessful in later school, were more component socially and emo-tionally and showed higher verbal and intellectual developmentduring early childhood period (Barnett, 1995; Clarke-Stewart, 1987;Peisner-Feinberg,, 1999; Schweinhard & Weikard, 1997;Sylva, Siraj-Blatchford, Taggart, Sammons, Melhuish & Elliot,2006). The positive affects of early childhood education on chil-dren’s socio-emotional development (Seçer & Sar›, 2006), the in-crease on children’s motivations of learning and later success werealso stated (Zembat, 2005).On the other hand, definition of quality and indicators of qualityprograms has still been discussed by researchers in this area (Tex-tor, 1998, Phillipsen, Burchinal, Howes, & Cryer, 1997). A commonapproach is to define quality in terms of certain structured compo-nents of services such as teachers’ educational level, experiences,salaries, child-teacher ratio and size of the classroom. Alternatively,the process quality of early childhood education including teacherchild relationships, providing developmentally appropriate activiti-es, simulating and rich educational environment needs to be consi-dered while measuring and defining early childhood education qua- 26 • EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY & PRACTICE  lity (Wishard, Shivers, Howes & Ritchie, 2003). Observational me-asures were often used to assess the process quality of early childcare services (Sheridan & Schuster, 2001).Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale developed by Harms& Clifford (1980) is often used to assess the quality of the earlychildhood education. This observational tool assesses teacher-childinteractions, developmentally appropriate activities, stimulatingand rich learning environments and family/personal relationships(Sheridan & Schuster, 2001). Specifically, this scale was widelyused in many research studies that assessed the quality of earlychildhood education (Burchinal & Cryer, 2003; Cassidy, Hestenes,Hegde, Hestenes, & Mims, 2005; Peisner-Feinberg, et al. 1999;Sylva, et al., 2006).The assessing the quality of early childhood education is found tobe limited and often occurred not ideal conditions in Turkey (Ok-tay, 2002). Quality of early childhood education institutions, speci-fically, dimensions of process quality such as teacher-child interac-tions, developmentally appropriate activities, stimulating and richlearning environments should be evaluated. Therefore, purpose of this study is to analyze the process quality of early childhood edu-cation by using many-facet Rasch measurement model. Methodology The participants of the study were randomly chosen four privatepreschools, five kindergartens within public primary schools andthree independent preschools in Denizli (Karasar, 2005). Even tho-ugh Rasch model does not require generalizing the results fromsample to population (Linacre, 1993), this study group includes dif-ferent early childhood school types. From the participant schools,twelve classrooms serving children ages 5-6 were observed. EarlyChildhood Environment Rating Scale (ECER) developed byHarms and Clifford (1980) was used to evaluate the process qualityof the classrooms. ECER is an observational instrument that inclu-des seven sub sections named “Personal care”, “Furnishings anddisplay for children”, “Language-reasoning experiences”, “Fineand gross motor activities”, “Creative activities”, “Social develop-ment”, “Adult needs” and a total of 37 questions scored using the BAfiTÜRK, IfiIKO⁄LU /  Analyzing Process Quality of Early Childhood Education... • 27   7-point scale. The scale was translated into Turkish and reliabilityand validity of the scale were ensured (Ifl›ko¤lu, 2007).In order to collect data, four fourth year students from early child-hood education program were trained to use ECER. Each observerindependently observed twelve classrooms and filled the ECERs.At the end of this procedure each classroom was evaluated by fourindependent observers.MFRM model was applied to analyze the collected data (Rasch,1980). MFRM has been developed in recent years to overcome so-me of the problems and assumptions associated with Classical TestTheory and to provide information for decision-making that is notavailable through Classical Test Theory (Linacre, 1993). MFRMhas several distinct advantages over classical data analysis (Smith,Schumacker & Bush, 1998; Elhan & Atakurt, 2005). First, Raschmeasurement places each facet of the measurement context on acommon underlying linear scale. This results in a measure that canbe subjected to traditional statistical analysis, while allowing forunambiguous interpretation of group performance as it relates to judge severity and item/task difficulty. Second, the Rasch-basedcalibration of examinees, items/tasks and judges is sample-free. Inother words, Rasch techniques remove the influence of samplingvariability from its measures so that valid generalizations can be ma-de beyond the current sample of groups, collections of items/tasksand pool of judges. Third, Rasch ‘fit’ procedures can be used to de-rive unexpected response patterns that are useful for evaluating theextent to which individual groups, tasks or judges are behaving inways that are inconsistent with the measurement model (Engel-hard, 1992; Wright & Linacre, 1994). FACETS software programdeveloped by Linacre (1993) was used to apply Many-facet Raschmeasurement. This program was able to give detailed informationabout the calibration of the three aspects of the study (Groups per-formance, item/task difficulty and judge severity/lenient). Results This research demonstrated that the Rasch based analysis provideswith 1) the relationship among three facets of evaluation (schooltypes, judges, items) 2) school quality and fit statistics, 3) judge se- 28 • EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES: THEORY & PRACTICE  verity and fit statistics, 4) item/task difficulty and fit statistics and5) bias interaction analysis by model. Specifically, the results indi-cated that early childhood education institutions were below thedesirable level of process quality; on the other hand private schoolshad better process quality aspects than public kindergartens and in-dependent preschools. It has been found that judges exhibited si-milar behaviors and when item statistics were examined they ser-ved the purpose of the evaluation. In other words, questions in thescale were able to separate the quality of early childhood educationinstitutions. With all or part of these pieces of information, the fa-cets of the data can be thoroughly investigated individually, whichis not always possible in the traditional test analysis. Rasch measu-rement can therefore provide complementary information that isuseful to government officers and school principals who wants toimprove school quality in their school. In addition to improvingoverall estimates of the dependability of assessment results, Raschmeasurement allows the identification of specific elements of as-sessment and research procedures that are affecting those scores.Rasch analysis allowed the identifying of specific judges, specificquestions and specific combinations of judges, questions and scho-ol types that are affecting the dependability of judgments. Thus,the instrument questions can be improved by examining the fit sta-tistics (infit and outfit). In addition, the assessment can be impro-ved by having discussions with judges and subject experts whenthe misfit elements are found. Discussion Findings of this study indicated that participant early childhoodeducation institutions possessed limited process qualities. Similarstudies also demonstrated that public and private early childhoodeducation institutions had limitations in terms of physical, person-nel and environmental features (Ar›, 2003; Kalemci, 1998). Moreo-ver, findings showed that judges’ performances for observation we-re similar and these similarities increased their reliability of obser-vations. A research demonstrated that different aspects of judge ef-fects for example randomness, accuracy, centrality, extremism inaddition to harshness and leniency detected with many-facet Raschmeasurement judge calibration logit values and fit statistics and fo- BAfiTÜRK, IfiIKO⁄LU /  Analyzing Process Quality of Early Childhood Education... • 29
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