The Ministry of Education has mandated school boards in Ontario to collect and analyze voluntary demographic and perceptual data about students.
Your voice matters.
As a result, Rainbow District School Board has invited parents/guardians of students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 and students in Grades 9 to 12 to complete an Identity-Based Census.
◆ The Census consists of 10 questions. It will take about three minutes to complete.
◆ The aim of this data collection is to enable school and system leaders to address barriers to student success in keeping with Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan (2017).
◆ The Census, which is aligned with Ontario’s Anti-Racism Data Standards, was the subject of extensive consultations during the 2021-2022 school year.
◆ The questions reflect the input from many people over many months.
◆ The Board of Trustees has also been consulted throughout the process.
◆ Care was taken to ensure there would be more than 10 responses to answers to protect privacy.
◆ As you read each question, you will be able to scroll over words you may not understand to access a definition.
◆ If needed, there is a translation tool available within the Census.
◆ If you require text to speech or other accommodations, please email [email protected] or talk to your school Principal.
◆ A completion bar at the bottom of the screen will track your progress.
All students in Rainbow Schools is invited to participate in the Census. Participation is voluntary.
Identity-based data will be collected through the brief online questionnaire. Paper copies, accessible formats and translated versions are available, on request.
Identity-based data includes race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability and socio-economic status. Participants are able to skip any question they prefer not to answer.
Questions regarding gender identity and sexual orientation are grade-level appropriate, consistent with The Ontario Curriculum, Health and Physical Education (2019). Kindergarten to Grade 3 students will not be asked about sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the Census is confidential, it is not anonymous.
The demographic data that is collected will be merged with student achievement data to determine challenges and opportunities for groups of students, not individual students. Workforce data will be overlayed on top of student data.
Data will be presented in aggregate form only.
Individual responses, as well as personal student and family information, will remain strictly confidential.
Rainbow District School Board is governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and must comply with all applicable legislation.
The Census was sent by e-mail the week of October 3 to 7, 2022.
Kindergarten to Grade 8 students are asked to complete the Census online with their parents/guardians at home. Grade 9 to 12 students will fill out the Census online, in class.
The purpose of the Census is to foster student success and well-being, make data-informed decisions on programs and services, and support all students to reach their full potential.
Watch a quick video to learn more about the Census.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is the Board administering a Census?
The Ministry of Education has mandated all school boards in Ontario to administer a Census. The Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan require school boards to gather and report on demographic data.
When will this occur?
The Census was sent to student emails the week of October 3 to 7, 2022.
What is being asked in the Census?
The Census collects identity and demographic data. The questions focus on languages, Indigenous identity, ethnicity, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, (dis)abilities and socio-economic status.
Why does the Board need to know more about me?
Having a picture of the overall student population in Rainbow Schools will enable the board to make data-informed decisions. The Census results, coupled with other data sets like credit accumulation and graduation rates, will be used to identify inequities in student opportunities and achievement outcomes. The goal is to better understand the needs of students and better target supports to address the needs of students to ensure the well-being and success of all learners.
Where do the questions come from?
The Ministry of Education provided school boards with sample questions consistent with the Anti-Racism Data Standards established through the Anti-Racism Act. The sample questions were presented to a variety of school board stakeholders for conversations and consultations. The questions were reviewed by many people and reflect the input of many voices, including students, staff, elected officials, First Nations communities, parents/guardians and partners. The questions were finalized by a Census Steering Committee who also provided input. The Steering Committee includes representatives of the board’s many federations and unions.
Do I have to participate in the Census?
Participation in the Census is voluntary.
Why should I participate in the Census?
The more schools know about their students, the better they will be able to meet their needs as they continue to foster safe, welcoming, inclusive school communities where everyone belongs. Your participation will enable the Board and its schools to gain an accurate picture of the student population. A higher response rate will help the board make informed decisions based on an accurate reflection of the population they serve.
How many questions are in the Census?
There are 10 questions in the Census.
How long will it take to answer the questions?
Two to three minutes.
Do parents/guardians need to consent in writing to have their children participate?
Given that participation is voluntary, consent is not required. Parents/guardians are encouraged to talk to their children about the Census in advance. Everyone is encouraged to participate, but not required to participate.
How will the Census be administered?
The Census will be administered by email. Parents/guardians of students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 are invited to complete the Census together at home. Students in Grades 9 to 12 are invited to complete the Census at school.
Why are parents/guardians being asked to complete questions for students in Grades 7 and 8? Would it not be better to have the students complete the Census on their own to get more accurate information?
The Ministry of Education has mandated that parents/guardians complete the survey with and/or for their children in Kindergarten to Grade 8.
Will parents/guardians have access to the responses submitted by secondary students?
No. This information is confidential. Parents/guardians will have access to the overall reports that will be generated with aggregate data from all students. These reports will be posted on the Board website, when available.
What survey tool is being used?
The Census will be administered using Qualtrics, a professional survey tool with proven privacy protections and a positive track record in the business and education sectors.
How can we be assured of privacy given that an outside firm is involved?
The Census data is collected using a third-party platform that has been vetted for industry standard security measures and practices. Once collected, the data will be downloaded and deleted from the platform. The company will delete the data from its servers.
Will the Census be available in multiple languages?
A translation feature within the survey tool offers multiple languages. If you require the Census questions in another language, please contact the school.
Will the Census be available in accessible formats?
Accessible formats will be available, on request. Assistive technology will be provided so every student can participate. Support staff will be invited to assist students, as required. The online questionnaire is compatible with Google Read&Write Extension for text to speech. If a secondary student has regular and recurring classroom support to complete schoolwork and assessments, these supports will be available to assist the student to log on to their device, open the Census url link and/or orient themselves with the available accommodations (font size, Google Read&Write, translation). These staff members will ensure your child’s privacy is maintained. Please talk to your school principal or email [email protected]
Will I be able to complete the Census in paper form?
Yes. Printed copies of the Census questionnaire will be available on request, in an unsealed envelope. To maintain privacy, please place the completed questionnaire in the envelope, seal the envelope, and return the envelope to the school. Please talk to your school Principal or email [email protected].
Will I be able to get help in completing the Census?
Yes. The Board hosted Census Cafés based on interest. Computers were available to complete the Census with the assistance of staff. For example, newcomers were invited to a Census Café where staff were available to provide support with translation.
Is the Census anonymous? If not, why not?
No. The Census is not anonymous. Student demographic data will be merged with student achievement data. Staff demographic data will be overlayed on top of the student demographic/achievement data.
What is considered student achievement data?
Student achievement data may include report card grades, attendance, credit accumulation, graduation rates, suspensions, expulsions, participation in programs, etc.
Is the Census confidential?
Yes. The Census is confidential. A select few data analysts will have access to the information in order to produce reports in aggregate form only, which means responses will be grouped together. Census responses will be stored in a secure, confidential database. The responses will be retained for a limited time period to allow for the creation of summary reports with overall results. Data analysts sign confidentiality agreements with the board.
How can I ensure my privacy will be protected?
Rainbow District School Board is governed by the Education Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The board is legally required to safeguard personal information pertaining to students and staff. Access to information is specific and limited.
Under what authority is data being collected?
Student census data is collected under the authority of the Anti-Racism Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 15 and 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.
How will the data be used?
The data will be used to produce reports on overall student achievement and well-being based on identity and demographics. By identifying trends and gaps, we will be able to determine how groups of students are doing in our schools. The board will use the analysis to better meet the needs of students. How can we improve school environments to make them more welcoming? How can we help all students achieve success? Might some students benefit from targeted initiatives? Are there specific areas where we need more resources? The data will help guide programs, strategies, procedures, practices, resources, and supports.
Can you provide some examples?
For example, comparing identity-based student data with data on program enrolment, suspensions, expulsions, and graduation rates may reveal more precisely how certain groups of students may benefit from targeted resources. Linking the Census information to other information will enable the Board to analyze the data in more meaningful ways to see if any notable patterns or trends emerge.
Who will have access to the Census data?
A very limited number of data analysts will access the Census results in order to generate reports for the Board. The data in these reports will be presented in aggregate form only for groups of students, not individual students, in order to determine patterns or trends.
Will I be able to see the results?
Yes. Census reports will be shared publicly on the board website as they become available. Analyzing the data will be a work in progress throughout the 2022-2023 school year.
Can you tell me more about the security of the data being collected?
Data is collected using the online survey tool, Qualtrics. Data is stored in a Canadian data centre under strict privacy parameters. To learn more, read the Qualtrics Cloud Security and Privacy Framework which focuses on information, security, privacy and compliance (September 2021).