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Questions and answers about the student census
  1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Who can I contact about the survey?​ 

  2. What’s the purpose of the survey? ​

  3. How were the questions developed?​

  4. How long will it take to complete the survey?​

  5. Can we skip questions on the survey?​

  6. Is the survey anonymous? How are you able to maintain confidentiality?​

  7. How are you able to connect responses on the survey to existing student data?​

  8. What do I do if I don’t know my/my child’s log in information?​

  9. What are some examples of other data you will link these survey results to?​

  10. I don’t want my child/children to complete the survey. How can I opt-out?​

  11. What can parents/guardians do if they don’t have access to technology to complete the census?​

  12. Will the data and learning from the survey be shared publicly?​

  13. Why are there questions about gender?​

  14. I’m worried my child may share they’re questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation. How do I handle that situation?​

  15. I don’t see much diversity in our community. Why do we need to do this survey here?​

  16. What does “equity-seeking groups” mean?​

  17. What might cause the differences in student achievement and other outcomes for students from equity-seeking groups? ​

  18. I know people from equity-seeking groups who are succeeding well in society—why is this an issue?​

  19. There are several surveys for students—are there plans to consolidate them and reduce the number?​

  20. What are some of the actions that have taken place to address equity in the system already? ​

  21. I want to do more learning about equity issues. Are there resources you’d recommend?​

Who can I contact about the survey?​ 
You can speak to your child’s principal about the survey, or please send your questions or comments to and someone from our team will get back to you. ​
The student census will:​
  • ​ Collect accurate identity and experience data about the current student population 
  • Improve our ability to assess the disparities that exist within the system and to effectively measure efforts to improve outcomes for all students
  • Support the development of 2022-2023 school improvement plans and the board improvement plan and inform new and existing programming and supports
The survey questions are adapted from a template provided by the Ministry of Education and based on guidance from the Ontario Anti-Racism Act and Anti-Racism Data Standards. The gender and sexual orientation questions are open-ended and invite students to indicate how they identify. 

The survey will take approximately 15 to 30 minutes to complete. You will need to complete the survey for every child in your household. Students in Grades 9 to 12 will complete the survey themselves at school.​

Do I have to do the survey with my elementary (grades 7 & 8) school child?
The survey asks about students' experience and identity, so it would be great for you to complete the survey alongside your younger child/children.

We encourage older children who can read themselves, you may consider letting them do the survey on their own, and you can be there to answer questions and help if needed.

Can we skip questions on the survey?
While the survey is confidential, it’s not anonymous. To use the information to help identify disparities in our system and evaluate programs, we need to look at the data alongside other data we already collect under the Education Act. Each survey contains a unique identifier that will allow research staff to link survey responses to other data. 

School and board staff won’t access individual student information shared on the survey. Data will only be reviewed from a population level – for example, the entire school population, a region of our school board, or the school board as a whole. 

Information collected will be stored in a secure, confidential database and only be accessed by authorized data analysts. We’re committed to the highest levels of privacy and confidentiality in collecting information about students. We follow all privacy requirements outlined in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).
All students and families will access the same survey link to open the survey. After reading the intro page, you will be asked to log in using ALCDSB student username and password. Once logged in, you will see the survey questions based on the grade level of the student. Each survey contains a unique identifier that will allow research staff to link survey responses to other student data that is already collected under the Education Act.​

What do I do if I don’t know my/my child’s log in information?
If your child is in Grade 7 or above, they will have reset their own password and you can ask your child for it. If your child doesn’t remember their login information, you can email and request that the login be reset.  
We will analyze the data alongside existing data to answer questions about: 
  • ​Achievement gaps – whether certain groups of students achieve at the same rate 
  • Suspension and expulsion rates – whether certain groups of students are suspended or expelled at a higher rate 
  • Streaming – whether certain groups of students are over or under-represented in particular programs or streams (e.g., academic versus applied courses; English with Core French versus Elementary French Immersion); 
  • Sense of belonging - whether certain groups of students feel more engaged/disengaged at school 
  • Feeling safe at school – whether certain groups of students feel more or less safe at school​
Any student and family may choose not to participate, stop participating or skip a question at any time. The survey for elementary students is completed by or with parents/guardians and so you can choose not to complete it. Parents/guardians of students in Grades 9 to 12 who are under 18 can ask that their child be exempt from participating in the census. 

You may ask for an exemption by completing this online form​. 

You’ll need your child’s ALCDSB login information, which your child uses regularly at school. Please ask your child for their login. 

If you’re unable to get your child’s login information from your child, please contact the school administration to request an exemption.

Parents/guardians who would like their child to be exempted from participating in the See Me in ALCDSB survey may request an exemption until October 18, 2023. If a parent/guardian does not submit a request to opt-out, all students are still free to choose not to participate in the student census.​

What can parents/guardians do if they don’t have access to technology to complete the census?​
Our schools will provide support to families that don’t have access to technology at home. Please contact your school principal. 

Will the data and learning from the survey be shared publicly?
Yes, a preliminary report will be​​ shared with the Board of Trustees. The report will be posted on the See Me in ALCDSB survey website page. 

An essential part of any work to support equity is our individual and collective willingness to be open about our learning, and so we are committed to involving the community in discussions about the data and to sharing what we can, while always being mindful of confidentiality.​

Why are there questions about gender?
For youth and adults who identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth, evidence shows they are at higher risk of bullying and severe mental health concerns, among other challenges. 

When we understand more about the population we are serving, we're better able to ensure our programs and supports are designed to meet all students' needs. The data will also help us evaluate our efforts to improve outcomes. 
The fact that you’re thinking ahead about this is great. Children need to feel loved and supported. Feeling a sense of belonging at home is important. If your child shares with you that their wondering about their gender identity or sexuality, try to respond in an open way, for example, “Tell me more about how you’re feeling.” Your openness to being in conversation will go a long way to helping your child feel safe. 

You can reach out to local organizations for support and resources. Here are some to consider: 
  • Rainbow Caregivers Network - peer support group for people who care for individuals who identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
  • TransFamily Kingston – a diverse group of transgender people, family members, friends and allies in the Kingston Ontario area.
  • Youthab Quinte​ – a community based non-profit organization helping young people living in the Quinte area obtain and maintain safe and affordable housing, good mental health and employment. 
And remember, your school and school board staff are here as partners in supporting your child. So reach out to your school principal if you need help. ​
Not all diversity is visible. We need to gather the data because it helps to make the invisible visible. We don’t want anyone in our community to face barriers or fall behind.
Equity-seeking groups in Canada are groups of people who continue to face barriers to equal participation and treatment in society. Barriers may be based on age, ethnicity, disability, economic status, gender, nationality, race, sexual orientation, transgender status, and more. Some folks are part of more than one group—for example, they may experience discrimination based on both race and sexual orientation or based on gender and age. This is called intersectionality and it can worsen the implications for individuals.
The causes of disparities can be very complex. For example, it's unlikely a difference in graduation rates among students is caused by just one factor, something that happened right before graduation, or even factors that are the education system's responsibility alone. Identifying the disparities locally is a critical step but doesn’t solve the issue. We will work together as school communities and with community partners to close any identified gaps. 

There are already various reports pointing to improvements needed in school systems and beyond. We know systemic barriers exist and the See Me in ALCDSB survey data will help us identify barriers within our own school system.
Indeed, there are always examples of people who do very well despite systemic barriers that exist. But their success is not evidence that barriers don’t exist. That’s why we look at information from a population level, not at the individual level. ​
Yes—we are looking at ways to consolidate our surveys and data collection. We recognize we ask similar questions on different surveys, and providing the same information more than once can be frustrating. ​​

As part of the implementation of the equity and strategic plans, school board staff have attended training sessions with diversity, equity and inclusion trainers. Currently, staff from various departments are completing training from the First Nations Information Governance Centre on the First Nations Principles of OCAP (ownership, control, access and possession). It asserts that First Nations have control over data collection processes and that they own and control how this information can be used. 

In addition to training, our school board has evolved our practices over the last number of years—always looking to evidence-based approaches for supporting students. A recent example relates to the findings of the Right to Read Inquiry from the Ontario Human Rights Commission​ that found students aren’t being served by early literacy practices in Ontario school boards. 

Our board had recognized this issue a number of years ago by reviewing student literacy data—students weren’t achieving to the level we knew they could, and we considered this to be an equity issue. We pulled together a multidisciplinary team to review evidence-based approaches for early literacy and implemented a structured reading program. We are in year two of the five-year project. Structured reading is the evidence-based approach now being recommended in the inquiry’s report. ​​
That’s great. Here are some book suggestions. Your local library will be able to provide recommendations as well. 
  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act 
  • Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out 
  • Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education 
  • Me and White Supremacy 
  • Seven Fallen Feathers 
In addition to your own learning, introducing young readers to books with diverse characters promotes acceptance, respect and empathy for others. Reading can help children learn to appreciate the range of perspectives and identities in their classrooms and communities.