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We All Count: HWDSB Student Census

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At Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB), we are committed to finding and removing barriers so we can offer all students supportive, inclusive, and respectful learning environments.

To learn more about our students, we will conduct a confidential census in April 2021. We All Count: HWDSB Student Census 2021 will gather identity-based student data so that we can identify and address systemic barriers by focusing our programming and resources.

Many school boards have conducted a student census. In fact, the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan require school boards to gather and report this data. It is also a priority project in HWDSB’s Equity Action Plan.

We know that asking about a person’s identity can be uncomfortable, and we will do so with sensitivity. We consulted students, families, staff, and community members so that this census helps HWDSB make evidence-informed decisions to support equity, student achievement and well-being.

If you have question not answered below, please email census@hwdsb.on.ca or use our anonymous form if you do not wish to be identified.

Student Census Form (anonymous)

Please use this form to raise a question or concern with the team planning for We All Count: HWDSB Student Census 2021.
  • While we will be unable to respond to you directly, we appreciate input that will inform our planning and communication materials related to the student census.

HWDSB is committed to identifying and addressing education inequities at all levels. One critical step in this is to better understand who our students are, as well as their school experiences.

As part of the HWDSB Equity Action Plan, HWDSB will collect voluntary identity-based student data in April 2021 through the We All Count: HWDSB Student Census project.

If we consistently collect and analyze this data, we can identify and address systemic barriers and discrimination. The data will help us support equity, student achievement and well-being through evidence-informed decision making.

As we plan for the student census, we will hold consultation sessions so that students can:

  • Learn about the student census: What is it? Why and how are we doing it? Who is involved?
  • Review the plan and draft questions, then give us feedback.
  • Share any concerns and barriers to participation.

Please register with a group that applies to you to join a virtual consultation over MS Teams.

  • Student Trustees and Student Senate: Wednesday, February 3, 2021, 5 to 7 p.m. Register here.
  • Black, racialized and students who identify as a member of groups that commonly experience discrimination due to race, ancestry, religion, abilities or place of origin: Wednesday, February 10, 2021, 5 to 7 p.m. Register here.
  • Two-spirit and LGBTQIA+ students: Thursday, February 11, 2021, 5 to 7 p.m. Register here.
  • Indigenous students: Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Register here.

After you register, we will send you the link to attend the MS Teams meeting. For questions, please email us at census@hwdsb.on.ca

What is the census and what does it ask?

We all Count: HWDSB Student Census is a voluntary and confidential student survey that collects identity-based data to identify and address systemic barriers. The nine questions on the census ask about a student’s languages, Indigenous identity, ethnicity, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, (dis)abilities, place of birth and citizenship/immigration status.

These questions are consistent with sample questions provided through the Anti-Racism Data Standard established through the Anti-Racism Act with a goal to identifying and addressing inequities in student opportunities and achievement outcomes. To see the survey, please visit XXXX.

Why is HWDSB conducting a student census? 

Many school boards have conducted a student census. In fact, the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 (hwdsb.info/36SHsuI) and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan (hwdsb.info/2Lwiie2) require school boards to gather and report this data. The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) finds that data collection can play an essential role to creating equitable outcomes and strong human rights strategies by helping organization identifying gaps in services.

At HWDSB, the census is one of the priority projects in our Equity Action Plan (hwdsb.info/equityplan) The data will help us understand the needs of students and families, identify, and address systemic barriers, and make evidence-informed decisions that create more equitable outcomes.

How will it occur?

In April, we will email a secure link to students in grades 5 to 12, so they can complete the student census online during class time, with teacher support. For younger students, we will email parents of students in Kindergarten to Grade 4 a link to the survey, to be completed at home. We will also send home a paper copy with younger students attending in person, to be completed with parents at home, then returned to school.

How is the data used?

We will use the data to understand the make-up of the HWDSB student population, and to produce reports on student achievement, opportunities, and participation in programming. By identifying trends and gaps, we will be able to see which groups are over- or under-represented in certain areas. HWDSB will use this trend analysis to focus its work to improve school environments, eliminate discriminatory practices and remove barriers to student success. We will publicly report census results and how this data has helped guide HWDSB programs, strategies, policies, practices, resources, and supports.

How will HWDSB protect students’ personal information?

HWDSB is committed to the highest levels of privacy and confidentiality when collecting information about students and families. Student census data is collected under the authority of the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 15, the Education Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E.2, and complies with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56.

The student census is confidential, but it is not anonymous. Individual student responses will be grouped together for analysis so that no individual student information is ever identifiable. Collected responses will be stored in a secure, confidential database and will only be accessed by authorized HWDSB Research & Analytics staff to identify and summarize trends among HWDSB students.

Is it mandatory?

Completing the census is voluntary. However, we ask student to participate so we get an accurate picture of our student population. A high response rate will better help us identify barriers, create strategies, and make informed decisions to address barriers to student achievement and well-being. Families who do not want their child to participate can opt out using a form on the Parent Portal.

How was the HWDSB student census developed? 

HWDSB’s student census questions are consistent with sample questions in the Anti-Racism Data Standard of the Anti-Racism Act. These questions are used to identify and address inequities in student opportunities and achievement outcomes. Locally, the census was guided with substantial input from a wide variety of student, families, staff, and community members. We held consultations to gather community feedback and followed best practices for student census planning, development, analysis, and the application of results.

When will I see results?

After the census is conducted in April 2021, Research and Analytics staff will analyze the data and publicly report back in November 2021. HWDSB will inform students and families of decisions that are informed from the data collected in the student census.

We will be posting a list of terms and definitions used in the HWDSB student census. If you would like a term added to the list, please email census@hwdsb.on.ca

When it is finalized after community consultations, we will post the student census questionnaire.

Updated on Friday, February 12, 2021.
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