Identity Matters

Identity Matters - OCDSB Survey
Posted on 11/01/2019

The OCDSB is committed to improving equity of access and opportunity for all students. To do this, we need to better understand the challenges our students are facing and where more support is needed. As part of this commitment, the district will be conducting a survey called Valuing Voices – Identity Matters! The survey will be conducted between November 26th and December 13th, 2019. The survey will be completed by parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade 6, and by students in grades 7 to 12. 

  • Parents of children K-6 will be invited to complete one survey on behalf of each child. Students 7-12 will be invited to complete the survey individually during class time.
  • The survey includes 2 types of questions; demographic questions about things such as race, gender identity, ethnicity, language and sexual orientation, and perceptual data about student’s experiences related to safety, wellbeing, belonging, and engagement.
  • The survey is confidential and voluntary. Participants can skip any question they do not wish to answer. Parents who do not want their child to complete the survey can opt out, by completing a form and returning it to the school. 
  • The survey collection process is confidential, but not anonymous. There will be a unique identifier in the data collection which allows the dataset to be analysed against other data sets as part of our research. School based staff will NOT be able to access individual student responses to the survey.

Why is the survey necessary?

We have been working on issues of equity for several years and despite considerable effort, we continue to hear stories from students and families about their experience with bias and barriers in the education system. Over the past year, we held focus groups with parents and students to learn more about their experience. These stories informed a report titled “Valuing Voices”. We appreciated the open and honest feedback we received in our focus groups. This report is not simply an account of the challenges our students and families have experienced, it’s a call to action. We need to do more to address the barriers our students face. The collection of identity-based data is an important step forward in this direction.

What is the purpose of the survey?

The purpose of the student survey is:

  1. to gather demographic information about the unique and diverse characteristics of the OCDSB’s student population; 
  2. to identify and respond to barriers to student learning and well-being; and
  3. to enhance the District’s capacity to serve its increasingly diverse student population and client communities.  

How will this information be used? 

The District already reports on a range of student data, such as achievement rates, graduation, enrollment, suspensions and expulsions. During the survey, the district will collect demographic data and perceptual data from students. This type of data, when analyzed with other data sets can be very helpful in revealing trends which could help to answer questions about:

  • Achievement Gaps and whether certain groups of students achieve at the same rate;
  • Suspension and Expulsion Rates and whether certain groups of students are suspended or expelled at a higher rate;
  • Streaming and whether certain groups of students are over or under represented in particular programs or streams (academic versus applied; English with Core French or Elementary French Immersion);
  • Sense of Belonging  and whether certain groups of students feel more engaged/disengaged at school; and
  • Feeling Safe at School and whether certain groups of students feel more or less safe at school.

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