We are pleased to share the progress we’ve made in creating the conditions for learning, in support of:

  • Student achievement
  • Student well-being

Student Achievement

Improvement in Graduation Rates

Graduation rates are just one benchmark used to ensure the effectiveness of efforts to support students. However, they are a good sign that our efforts are working.

  • As of August 31, 2021: 
    • 85.9% of students who began Grade 9 in 2016-2017 graduated within five years, an increase of 2.2% from the previous year.
Technology for Students

WRDSB provides each student in Grades 9 to Grade 12 with a WRDSB-owned Google Chromebook for their time in school. 

This program:

  • Puts digital resources in the hands of students
  • Provides equitable access to digital resources
  • Fosters essential skills like: 
    • Character development
    • Communication
    • Collaboration
    • Critical thinking
    • Digital citizenship
English: Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices
  • As a school district, we continue our work in response to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action, item 63 
    • In 2023-24, all secondary schools are delivering Understanding Contemporary First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Voices (NBE3)
      • This is the compulsory Grade 11 English credit for all students
  • The NBE3 courses offer all students an in-depth understanding of First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors and scholars and their: 
    • Literary styles
    • Historical and cultural perspectives 
  • This course:
    • Provides spaces to highlight the joy, resilience and brilliance of Indigenous communities
    • Teaches the difficult truths of the past 
    • In doing so, we support intercultural understanding (TRC, #63) amongst students
      • This helps to prepare them for the greater societal work of Truth and Reconciliation
  • The Indigenous, Equity and Human Rights Department (IEHR) supports the professional development of teachers and administrators to strengthen staff understanding of:
    • Indigenous Identities, ways of knowing, perspectives and histories
    • Sovereignty-affirming leadership practices
  • Students explore:
    • Texts from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit cultures in Canada
    • The perspectives and influence of related texts
Improvements in Grade 9 Math
  • The Ministry of Education:
    • Identified underachieving schools in mathematics 
    • Assigned and provided funding for math coaches 
  • WRDSB scores in Grade 9 were so successful that they were not identified by the Ministry of Education as needing: 
    • Additional staffing or funding for this portion of the Math Action Plan 
  • This success is indicative of the work we have done with Grade 9 and 10 math de-streaming
  • WRDSB continues to be a provincial leader in the early years reading and has made incredible gains in the organization’s culture
  • To nurture these shifts, we provided mandatory training for approximately 700 teachers
    • An initial call-out saw 550 Teachers volunteer to participate in training to learn how to complete an early reading screener
  • This early screener helps teachers inform instruction and offer timely interventions to keep student learning on track
  • Of the 2,096 students who completed the entire e-Learning program in the summer of 2023, 95% were successful in earning a credit. 
  • The average final mark across all eLearn students was 81.3% 
  • Just over 80% of students achieved the provincial standard of Level 3 (70%) or higher
Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) Results
  • The 2022-2023 EQAO Results showed that WRDSB students surpassed provincial results in some subject areas and performed at levels similar to their peers across the province. 
    • WRDSB performed above provincial results in: 
      • Grade 6 writing and mathematics 
      • Grade 9 mathematics 
    • WRDSB performed in line with provincial results in: 
      • Grade 3 reading and writing 
      • Grade 6 reading 
      • Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) for students writing the test for the first time 
    • WRDSB performed slightly below provincial results in: 
      • Grade 3 mathematics

Community and Family Partnership

Expanding Community Partnerships

As we continue to engrain ourselves within the ethos of the community, we have: 

  • Partnered with the City of Kitchener and A Better Tent City (ABTC) to:
    • Provide space at the main board office to help tackle the housing crisis in Kitchener
      • This includes 40 cabins and a mobile health clinic
  • Partnered with SMART Waterloo to address food insecurity by:
    • Working with communities to grow food at some school sites 
    • Teaching the importance and ethics of food security at earlier grades
  • The Blair Outdoor Education Centre: 
    • Is a collaborative effort by the White Owl Native Ancestry Association (WONAA) and the WRDSB
    • Serves as a space of learning for Indigenous Land-based programming and education for students in Grades 4-12
    • The Blair garden has contributed 733 pounds of food
Innovation in Education
  • Our community has worked together to improve child and youth well-being through the Smart Waterloo Region Innovation Lab (SWRIL). 
    • This partnership has supported almost 1,000 students in our system at the secondary level. 
  • In the years of partnership, SWRIL has launched pilots that have directly impacted ten schools and over 500 children and youth.
  • During the initial pilot, more than 400 students and 20 staff participated in GIMI IMPACT Innovation Training for Children, Youth and Senior Staff. 
  • Teachers received training on the Global Innovation Management Institute (GIMI) Innovation Framework
    • In turn, this helped them train students on innovation
  • Students are engaged in:
    • Identifying a problem in their community
    • Using design-thinking to determine potential solutions 
    • Finally, pitching their project to SWRIL representatives for a chance to receive funding to support their work
  • Almost the entire WRDSB Senior team has completed Level 1 of the Innovation Certification with GIMI. 
  • This is an excellent example of top-down and bottom-up processes to begin shifting public education towards a more innovative approach.
Restructuring of the Organization
  • As a part of restructuring the organization, a new role has been developed in the Director’s Office. The Executive Officer, responsible for Corporate Services, has Family and Community Partnerships within their portfolio. Through this, the following work has begun:
    • Convened roundtables that include our municipal and political partners 
    • Community partner roundtables have identified several key priorities for our partnerships, including: 
      • Reading by end of Grade 2 
      • Food Insecurity 
      • Post-Secondary Pathways 
  • We are working in collaboration with the Region of Waterloo, City of Kitchener and Grand River Transit to better serve the community 
    • A working group was launched to determine the potential of providing free public transportation for secondary students in the region
  • A review of systems and structures that may create barriers for Community members and organizations to access and partner with us has begun in an attempt to remove them.
Early Childhood

WRDSB is one of Southwestern Ontario’s largest licensed childcare providers, with 4,156 children and more than 69 directly operated sites, plus 24 sites operated by third-party providers under agreement with the WRDSB. This represents approximately 13 years of work to get here. 

  • Our commitment to child care services in schools and addressing barriers for families started in 2010 with the implementation of full-day kindergarten and has only grown stronger. It’s been a team effort across departments. We haven’t watched from the sidelines to see how districts are solving issues of access and affordability. We put our heads together with support from our Consolidated Municipal Service Manager (CMSM) and took the steps needed to improve services for families. WRDSB has embodied a commitment to Ontario’s Renewed Early Years and Policy Framework – here are a few highlights: 
    • Led the implementation of a ‘seamless day’ with Board-operated Extended Day programs during the 2010 implementation of full-day kindergarten to address disparities in access across communities. 
    • Expanding Extended Day programming for children aged 6 to 12 years. 
    • Building strong partnerships through regular ongoing meetings with childcare operators who deliver care for 0 to 4-year-olds in schools where purpose-built childcare programs exist. 
    • Directly operating two emergency full-day childcare programs for children of essential workers during the global pandemic shutdown.
    • Licensing our Extended Day programs under the Child Care and Early Years Act so that families would benefit from the reduced fees under the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Funding Plan. 
    • Developing integrated supports to ensure inclusion in early years programs, including Extended Day, so all children can participate. 
    • Since the pandemic, enrollment has grown by more than 1,000 children.

System Change & Organization Transformation

Creed Accommodations and Professional Development Days
  • To accommodate various religious/cultural days of significance, WRDSB staff are asked to avoid scheduling exams, tests, extra-curricular clubs and sports, or events on these days. 
  • For the 2023-24 school year, Professional Development days have also been scheduled on Eid and Diwali to accommodate students who observe those days. This is a first in public education in Ontario.
Free Period Products in All Schools
  • Access to menstruation products and the stigma associated with menstruation have continued to be a barrier for many students. 
  • Since 2019, the WRDSB has addressed period poverty in every school in our system by providing free period products in every school and alternative education site. 
    • WRDSB is the first school district in Ontario to do this. 
  • As of 2022, menstrual health products are available in the bathrooms of every school and alternative education site across the WRDSB.
Policies and Procedures Rooted in Equity, Human Rights and Affirming Sovereignty
  • Policy 1004 – Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment (est. 1998, revised 2018 and 2021) 
    • Provides awareness of the value of establishing and maintaining respectful working and learning environments and of responsiveness to the damaging effects of harassment in the workplace. The WRDSB will not tolerate harassment from any person in the workplace. 
  • Policy 1008 – Equity and Inclusion (est. 2006, revised 2016 and 2017) 
    • Outlines the commitment of the WRDSB to develop, understand, implement, and continually evaluate all policies, procedures and programs to ensure fair and equitable educational, social, and employment opportunities for students, staff and community partners. 
  • Policy 1012 – Religious and Creed Accommodations (est. 2010, revised 2017 and 2020) 
    • Acknowledges each individual’s right to follow or not to follow religious beliefs and practices free from discriminatory or harassing behaviours based on creed or religion. 
  • Policy 4020 – Naming and Renaming of Board Facilities (est. 2015, revised 2017, 2020 and 2021) 
    • Outlines the steps to name or rename a school. This policy reflects the Board’s commitment to promote Indigenous education, equity, human rights, inclusive learning and working environments for all students and staff. It has supported the renaming of two schools in 2023. 
  • Policy 6010- Student Dress (est. 2001, revised 2020 and 2022) 
    • Focuses on respecting individual expression, gender, cultural, creed and socio-economic needs, which are essential to students’ overall health and well-being. Over 200 students were engaged in shaping this policy. 
    • WRDSB’s Student Trustees surveyed students in Grades 7-12 about their experience. They received 13,000 responses, which showed that the dress code significantly impacted mental health, especially for Black, female, and identifying students, as well as students who wore articles of faith. The WRDSB’s equity team amended the policy after engaging with staff, students, and community. 
  • Procedure 1230 – Faith and Religious Accommodations (est. 2016) 
    • Acknowledges the need to accommodate religious requests by staff, students and families and to increase awareness and sensitivity regarding faith and/or beliefs in school. 
  • Procedure 1235 – Accommodation Of Persons Who Identify As Transgender (est. 2017, revised 2021) 
    • Outlines guidance for accommodating trans and nonbinary students 
  • Procedure 1238 – Exemption from Instruction Related to the Human Development and Sexual Health Expectations (est. 2020) 
    • Provides exemption to students, at the request of their families/caregiver(s), from instruction related to the Human Development and Sexual Health expectations found in strand D of the Ontario Curriculum: Health and Physical Education, Grade 1-8, 2019. 
  • Procedure 1540 – Religious and Cultural Days of Significance in Schools (est. 2016) 
    • Assists staff in planning for the observance of religious and cultural days of significance and reinforces the belief that programs should attempt to recognize the diversity of cultures represented in schools and the community.
Hiring to Reflect and Support the Student Population and Deepen Our Understanding of Human Rights Across the Organization
  • Creation of Sovereignty Affirming & Equity Competencies, a comprehensive list of skills and competencies which serve as a goalpost for all staff in the organization 
  • Creation of a comprehensive definition of the term “lived experience” to help shape hiring processes to become more reflective 
  • WRDSB was the first school district to collaborate with the Ministry of Education through the Equity Secretariat to offer four days of intensive human rights training to Trustees, senior team leaders, union leaders and professional association leads in the organization 
    • Invited Waterloo Catholic District School Board to participate as our coterminous board. This gives us a more comprehensive, shared understanding, common frameworks and lexicon to address the organization’s human rights culture. 
  • Coordinate and organize several networks of Indigenous, Black and other racialized employees seeking to retain employees, including a group for administrators, one for teachers, one for occasional teachers, and nine staff affinity groups. 
  • Hosted a targeted job fair focused on recruiting Indigenous, Black and racialized candidates
Strategic Plan
  • Through our multi-year strategic planning process, overseen by the trustees, we consulted with more than 10,000 families, students, staff and community members, creating six clear strategic directions for our work. 
  • To better engage student voices, new data tools were created to specifically engage students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and have their voices actively shape the Multi-year Strategic Plan. 
    • To the best of our awareness, we are Ontario’s first public school district to do this. 
  • More than 5,000 of the 10,000 voices were students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. This was one of the first steps we have taken to shift towards becoming a system that centres student voice. 
  • Using the voices of those we serve, Trustees developed our:
    • Strategic Directions 
    • Learner Profiles
  • Based on this plan, we have now released a charter to the community that includes work plans for improving and guiding what we do in the following areas: 
    • Student Voice outlines how we become a system that reflects student voice at ALL levels of the organization. This has also included flipping our organizational structure. 
    • Family Engagement 
    • Community Engagement 
  • The Director’s Office has restructured to include Student Voice. 
    • Superintendents are exploring how to structurally incorporate student voice into the School Learning and Improvement Plan 
    • A new Student Communications team is being developed to focus communications with students. 
    • The WRDSB Instagram will now focus primarily on student communication 
    • The Director has issued communication consistently to students over the past two years. At the end of year one of the Strategic Plan, which included an oral report to students on our work in response to their feedback through the Strategic Planning process.
Dismantling anti-Black Racism (DABR)

DABR began in 2022 as a Targeted Support Program to provide intense and dedicated professional development and intervention for all WRDSB schools. This project brings together administrators and up to three teachers with the opportunity to collaborate with other schools engaging in dismantling anti-Black Racism. 

The multi-year plan includes central professional learning opportunities for approximately six days across the academic year, site-based professional learning opportunities, and resource support for educators and administrators. 

During the learning series, participants will: 

  • Explore topics such as anti-Blackness, carceral logic, and how to engage and support Black students and their families 
  • Engage in self-excavation of their own identity 
  • Share their learning with fellow participants
Virtual Dashboard
  • A new dashboard has been created for use by schools and senior staff that would allow us as a district to drill into the achievement and well-being of students. 
    • The dashboard utilizes Microsoft Power BI, a data analysis and visualization tool, to connect to Aspen, the student information system. 
    • It provides near real-time data while enforcing role-level security, ensuring student information is only available to staff authorized to view it. 
  • The eventual goal will be to effectively aggregate and disaggregate data across dimensions of demographic information to ensure identity is not a predictor of outcomes. 
    • At the system level, we will be working to aggregate and disaggregate data by Families of Schools as well as at a higher level based on our priorities around Literacy, Numeracy, performance of students with identified learning needs, suspensions/expulsions, credit accumulation and graduation outcomes.
School Buildings & Facilities
  • The WRDSB has provided a standard for installing Soundfield amplification systems. These amplify the teacher’s voice in the classroom, allowing for the teacher’s voice to be heard over the background noise. 
    • The Soundfield systems benefit all children in the classroom, including children who are hard of hearing.
    • These systems are installed in all new schools, additions, and existing classrooms when a renovation involves a ceiling replacement. 
  • We are working with Smoke Architecture, an all-female architectural firm, to provide an Indigenous perspective to the design of the new South Kitchener PS and its school grounds. 
    • Some features that will be present from these consultations include: 
      • Large shading entrance canopies with seating benches 
      • Welcome room equipped with open, spiral, interconnecting stairs 
      • Spiritual practice room with ablution station 
      • Finishes evoking atmosphere of nature and ancestral places 
      • Outdoor gathering places 
      • Outdoor Classrooms/Teaching Gardens 
      • Small pods equipped with winter garden planters 
      • Rainwater feature 
      • Urban Forest area 
      • Gardening patches 
      • Green Roof/Water harvesting ready section of the roof 
  • Our facilities have been recognized for awards, including: 
    • Oak Creek PS is nominated for the People’s Choice Award for Great Places in Kitchener. 
  • Additionally, the following capital projects have been undertaken in the last two years: 
    • New Schools and Additions
      • Oak Creek PS (opened September 2022) 
      • Child Care facility at Lackner Woods PS (opened January 2023) 
      • Child Care facility at Saginaw PS (opened December 2022) 
      • Addition at Laurelwood PS (underway) 
      • South Kitchener (in design) 
      • Southeast Cambridge Joint School (in design) 
      • Breslau Hopewell Crossing (in design) 
    • Accessibility Upgrades 
      • Installed elevator and universal washroom at MacGregor PS 
      • Installed elevator and barrier free washrooms at Preston High School 
      • Installed elevator and barrier free washrooms at Central PS 
      • Elevator and barrier free washrooms at King Edward PS underway 
      • Installed universal washrooms at:
        • Southwood Secondary School – ACE program 
        • Crestview Public School 
        • MacGregor Senior Public School 
        • Chalmers Street Public School 
        • Eastwood Collegiate Institute 
        • Smithson Public School 
      • Installed Barrier Free (BF) washrooms at:
        • Centennial Public School (Cambridge) 
        • Glenview Park Secondary School 
        • Forest Heights Collegiate Institute 
        • St Andrew’s Senior Public School 
        • Central Public School 
    • Program enhancements in both Elementary and Secondary in the following areas 
      • Libraries 
      • Hospitality 
      • Family Studies 
      • Music 
      • Science
      • Health and Fitness 
      • Admin Areas 
    • Enhanced ventilation infrastructure at several schools including air conditioning in the past three years 
      • Smithson PS
      • Waterloo-Oxford DSS
      • MacGregor PS
      • Stewart Avenue PS
      • Eastwood CI
      • Tait Street PS
      • Suddaby PS
      • Chalmers Street PS
      • Laurelwood PS
      • Central PS
      • Bridgeport PS
      • Highland PS
      • Prueter PS
      • King Edward PS
      • St Jacobs PS
      • JF Carmichael PS
      • Hillcrest PS
      • Doon PS
      • Avenue Road PS 
      • Howard Robertson PS 
    • We are also ensuring diversity in our custodial workers, with: 
      • 8 of 16 Custodial Department Heads being female identifying 
      • 4 of 16 are Lead Hands being female identifying 
      • 37 are Head Custodians being female identifying 
      • 147 custodians that being female identifying. 
      • 196 of 465 FTE positions being female identifying 
      • 4 of 12 Facility Supervisors being female identifying 
      • Management group on the operations side (Custodial) of 5 Managers, two are female-identifying