Student School Climate Survey FAQs

Student School Climate Survey Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What is the Student School Climate Survey?
The OCDSB’s Student School Climate Survey is an anonymous online survey for students in grades 4 to 12. The purpose of the school climate survey is to better understand students’ perceptions about bullying, safety at school, well-being and engagement. We know that when students feel safe and welcomed at school that they are more likely to achieve at higher levels and have a stronger sense of well-being.
The survey provides data to support bullying prevention and intervention plans and help with school improvement planning. 

The OCDSB used the OurSCHOOL survey by The Learning Bar from 2012 to 2019. In 2021, the OCDSB developed a new survey to better meet the needs of the District, and to align with key indicators and measurable outcomes outlined in the Ontario Ministry of Education Policy/Program Memorandum No. 145, the OCDSB Strategic Plan (2019-2023), the OCDSB Mental Health Strategy (2019-2022), and the OCDSB Indigenous, Equity, and Human Rights Roadmap (2020 to 2023). 

What does school climate mean?

School climate may be defined as the learning environment and relationships found within a school and school community. A positive school climate exists when all members of the school community feel safe, included, and accepted, and actively promote positive behaviours and interactions. Principles of equity and inclusive education are embedded in the learning environment to support a positive school climate and a culture of mutual respect. Some of the characteristics associated with a positive school climate include:

  • Students, staff members and parents feel – and are – safe, included and accepted.
  • All members of the school community demonstrate respect, fairness and kindness in their interactions, and build healthy relationships that are free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Students, principals, staff members, parents and community members engage in open and ongoing dialogue. All partners are actively engaged.
  • Principles of equity and inclusive education are embedded across the curriculum.
  • Strategies for bullying prevention and intervention and awareness-raising are reinforced for students and staff.
  • The learning environment, instructional materials, and teaching and assessment strategies reflect the diversity of all learners.
  • Every student is inspired and given support to succeed in an environment of high expectations.

Why are we doing the survey?

The school district is committed to gaining a better understanding of our student population to help us improve student achievement and well-being. Students will be able to share their ideas, thoughts or concerns about their school; their input will help make sure that their school is safe and welcoming. Schools will also use the information gathered from these surveys to develop their annual Bullying Prevention and Intervention and School Improvement Plans. Finally, the Education Act requires that each school complete a school climate survey at least once every two years.

Why should students participate in the survey?

We want to hear about your experiences in school. The more students who take part in the survey, the better understanding we will have of how it feels to attend school right now. This will help us know what students are happy with, and what can be improved to meet students' needs.


When will the survey be done?
The survey is available from April 4th to April 29th, 2022.  Schools will develop a schedule to ensure students are able to complete the survey during class time. Parents will receive communication from their school 1-2 weeks prior to the survey. A makeup date should be set up for absent students as well as those who do not finish the survey during the originally scheduled time. Each school is free to schedule this session at their convenience, as long as it falls within the survey administration window. 

Why are we doing this now?

Surveys are being administered during the spring so that respondents have most of a school year to reference when reflecting on their experiences in school. All surveys will be administered during the same time period across schools.

Who will complete this survey?
All students from Grades 4-12 will be invited to complete the survey in each school during class time. There are two different school climate surveys; a Grade 4-6 survey and a Grade 7-12 survey. 

Should students in OCV schools complete the survey?

Yes, we are interested in the experiences of all students within the OCDSB.

What types of questions are asked on the survey?

The surveys cover a wide range of topics related to school climate, including questions concerning school engagement, relationships with others, school safety and bullying, the school and learning environment, identity and representation, and well-being. The survey also includes questions about race, gender identity, indigenous identity, disability, and 2SLGBTQ+ identity. 

Why does the survey ask about race, gender identity, indigenous identity, disability, and 2SLGBTQ+ identity?

How students experience school varies. These questions help schools understand how each student experiences their school environment, and identify any systemic trends that impact some students more than others. The inclusion of these questions is in alignment with the Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of System Racism and will help to address District priorities outlined in the Indigenous, Equity, and Human Rights Roadmap.. 

How long is the survey?

The Grade 4-6 survey has approximately 110 questions and the grade 7-12 survey has approximately 115 questions. Questions in both surveys are very short - either multiple choice, or agree/disagree, with one open-ended question. The length of time to complete the survey varies depending on the survey. On average, the grade 4 to 6 survey takes about 25 to 35 minutes to complete, while the grade 7 to 12 survey takes 20 to 30 minutes.

How frequently is the survey administered?

The Education Act requires that each school complete a school climate survey at least once every two years.

Why are schools only doing the School Climate Survey for students this year and not a parent or staff survey?
We are committed to surveying parents at least once every two years. Planning is currently underway for parent and staff school climate surveys to be administered in 2023. Parents and staff are encouraged to communicate with the school principal if you have any feedback or concerns about the school at any point in time.


How will the survey be completed?
The survey is administered using
Qualtrics, a secure online survey platform that is accessible on any mobile device, tablet, laptop or computer. Students in grades 4 to 12 will complete the survey online at school during a scheduled block/period. 

Why can't students complete the survey at home?
We believe that when students complete the survey in the school environment, it facilitates completion and supports reliable and authentic data collection. This is a school-based survey designed to gather a "snapshot" of a student perspective of bullying, school safety and student engagement.


Do I need to provide consent?
The survey is voluntary. Students will complete the survey during class and may choose not to participate. Parents of students who do not want their child to participate in the survey must complete the Notice of Non-Consent, which accompanies the letter that parents will receive from their school. The district recognizes that decisions about consent in relation to data collection involving students are made on a case-by-case basis by parents. Recognizing that the survey is voluntary, the opt-out consent model seemed to be the best method for managing individual decisions about participation.

What if students don't want to answer certain questions?
Completing the survey is voluntary. Individual questions can be skipped if students are not comfortable answering a particular question. 

How is the Student School Climate Survey anonymous?
School administrators will each receive a single anonymous link for the Qualtrics survey that will be used for all participating students in the school. Because all students complete the same survey, there is no way to identify which students have responded to the survey. Student name and other identifying information is not collected. When results are reported to schools, it is not possible for schools to see individual results, only aggregated data. Results will not be reported for any item or measure with less than 5 students.

How do I know my privacy is protected?

The school district is committed to protecting your privacy in accordance with our legislated duty under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Your responses will not be connected to your name, email address, or any other identifying information. Respect for participant anonymity, well-being, and safety remain paramount. If you have questions about privacy, please contact [email protected]

Can I participate in a language other than English?

The student survey is available in English only. Schools are responsible for coordinating accommodations for students who require support with translation or interpretation. This may include the use of Google Read and Write, community or parent volunteers, ESL/ELD support staff, or a Multicultural Liaison Officer (MLO). When we do the parent survey, it will be available in other languages. Parent information letters are currently available in Arabic, Bengali, Simplified Chinese, French, Inuktitut, Nepali, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

What accommodations are there for students with disabilities or English language learners?

Schools should consider providing the same accommodations to students as those provided in other assessments (e.g., extended time, adjustments to environment, assistive technology). 


When will I be able to see the results?

A summary of results will be shared with school administrators in May 2022. 

How will my school use the data?

Schools use the School Climate Survey results to help make decisions around improving school climate as part of the ongoing work to create accepting schools in which everyone belongs, to guide school improvement planning, and inform educator practices aimed at reducing inequities in student experiences and outcomes.  Results are used by schools to give students a voice so they are able to share their ideas, thoughts or concerns about their school. Input provided helps make their school safe and more welcoming.

How will the OCDSB use the data?

At a District level, school climate data is used to identify areas of strength and areas of need within the board, to identify patterns in the data that will help to guide decision-making and planning, to inform district-level policies and priorities, and to monitor progress towards meeting equity goals. The district reports are an aggregate of all school results from the measures within the surveys. District-level data may also be used to assist school administrators in situating their school results relative to the district. 

How are response rates calculated for the Student School Climate Survey?

Response rates are calculated as the total number of survey responses out of the total number of eligible students in grades 4 to 12 enrolled at the school as of October of that academic year. 

What is considered an acceptable response rate?

An ideal response rate is at least 80 percent of eligible students. Participation rates can be very different from school to school since there is great variability in school size. When considering the representativeness of your results, think about the size of your school population. What number of students does your participation rate actually reflect? The larger your school population and the higher your participation rate, the more representative your findings are likely to be. School-level results should be interpreted cautiously when response rates are low.


Who can I talk to if I have concerns or questions about the survey content?

Some of the survey content may cause discomfort for students (e.g., question about bullying, harassment, and discrimination). We acknowledge that students may have different reactions about these topics. We hope that educators and parents can use this opportunity to discuss these issues if/when students ask questions about them.

You may also access any of the following supports:

Self-Care 101 (SMHO)
Reaching Out and Asking for Help (SMHO)

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Youth Services Bureau (YSB): 613-260-2360
LGBTQ Youthline: 1-800-268-9688

Black Youth Helpline: 1-833-294-8650
First Nations and Inuit Hope

and Wellness Helpline: 1-855--242-3310
24/7 Distress Centre: 613-238-3311

Who do I contact for more information?

If you require further information or have additional questions about this survey, please email: [email protected]

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