What is the WRDSB Student Census?
The WRDSB Student Census was a confidential and voluntary survey for all parents/guardians of students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 and for all students in Grades 4 to 12. The goal of the Student Census was to better understand the diversity within the WRDSB. The results of the Student Census allow us to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, social and demographic makeup of WRDSB students.
Why did the WRDSB conduct a Student Census?
The Student Census aligns with the WRDSB’s commitments to equity and inclusion and evidence-based decision-making. Ontario school boards are mandated to collect identity-based student information by 2023 under Ontario’s Anti-Racism Act. Identity-based data collection is also supported by the Ministry of Education’s Education Equity Secretariat and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
When was the WRDSB Student Census conducted?
The Student Census was launched on April 19, 2021. The parent and guardian version of the census closed on June 15, 2021. The student version of the census closed on June 30, 2021.
How was the Student Census developed?
The Student Census is aligned to our WRDSB’s Operational Plan and our commitment to an organizational culture rooted in human rights and equity. WRDSB staff conducted consultations with students, diverse community members, Ontario’s Education Equity Secretariat, and other Ontario school boards to ensure that our process was based on the best advice and best strategies available.
What questions were asked in the Student Census?
Census questions included those required under Ontario’s Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism, as well as several additional questions mandated by the Ministry of Education to collect data based on the grounds protected against discrimination in the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The census included questions about students’ cultural, social, and sociodemographic identity. It specifically asked about Indigenous status, ethnic/cultural background, racial identity, first language, nationality, gender identity, religious affiliation, health/disability status, age, and grade.
Parents and caregivers of students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 were also asked about socioeconomic circumstances.
Students in Grade 7 to 12 were also asked about sexual orientation.
Was the WRDSB Student Census mandatory?
Participation in the WRDSB Student Census was voluntary. Every question on the Student Census was optional. Every student and parent/guardian were invited to choose which (if any) questions they wished to answer. Parents/guardians of children under 18 years of age were also given the chance to request that their child not participate in Student Census.
How was the Student Census conducted?
The WRDSB Student Census was conducted primarily online during remote learning. This was due to the launch of the Student Census unexpectedly coinciding with the Ministry of Education’s decision to transition all Ontario schools to remote learning for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year due to the increased spread of COVID-19 throughout the province at the time. Originally, the WRDSB planned to facilitate the Student Census in person.
Students and families who could not complete the census online or preferred a printed option were able to request to receive the Student Census by mail. The mailout included addressed return envelopes to allow them to return their student census responses by mail.
Is the Student Census confidential?
The WRDSB Student Census is confidential, but it is not anonymous. Individual student information was not reported. A small number of WRDSB Research Department and Information Technology Services staff are able to match census responses to student email addresses and identification numbers but only when required for the purposes of conducting research. In Student Census reports, student information is combined with the information of other students in a way that does not allow individual students to be identified. The WRDSB Student Census process followed provincial freedom of information and privacy laws (i.e., Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, MFIPPA).
Detailed information on our privacy and data security protocols is available on the Student Census webpage.