2019-2020 Valuing Voices - Identity Matters Student Survey

On June 19, 2020, the OCDSB released the first summary report of our Valuing Voices – Identity Matters! survey of students from kindergarten to grade 12.

Conducted between November 2019 and January 2020, nearly 35,000 surveys were completed for students from kindergarten to grade 12. Parents completed surveys for students from kindergarten to grade 6, with students completing surveys from grades 7-12. The overall response rate was 46.5% (32.2% for parents for students K-6 and 62.5% for students 7-12).

The study explores issues of identity – such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation – along with perceptual questions focused on student well-being, safety and other topics.

Work on the survey was guided by the input of students, parents and community partners through focus groups and discussions beginning in spring 2019.

Survey background

How we are using this data

The OCDSB is using this information to inform our commitment to human rights and equity. This data is being used to help identify trends and patterns, which will allow the District to take action to address structural racism and systemic barriers.

For example, the data will help to better understand racial disparity in student outcomes (e.g., achievement, suspension rates, graduation rates) and experiences in school (e.g., sense of belonging, safety, etc.), and disproportionate representation of different groups across programs and services (e.g., academic/applied/locally developed level courses; English with core French/French immersion programs).

Learn more about how this data is being used on:

Thank you to all who completed our 2019 Student Survey. The survey is now closed

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 January 19th, 2020. 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, enrolment, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions 

I received a link to complete the survey for a student that is not my child?
A: If you receive a link for a student that is not your child, it is possible that your email address is on the school records for that child. Please email [email protected] so that we can contact your school and correct the email address in their database.  We will then coordinate the sending of the survey link to parents of that child. Please delete the message with the incorrect link.

I received an email to complete the survey for my child but they are no longer in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board?
A: Please email [email protected] so we may update our records. You may disregard the email. 

What if I do not want my child to participate in this survey? 
The Student Survey is voluntary. Students and parents may choose not to respond to specific questions, or they may choose not to participate at all. For students in K-grade 6, parents will provide consent by completing the survey.  If the parent does not consent, they simply do not complete the survey. For students in grades 7-12, parents may email [email protected] and request that there child(ren) be exempt from completing the survey. Please provide the child's full name, school and grade in this email.  

I have more than one child in the district. How do I complete surveys for each of my children? 
If you have more than one child in the district in Grades K-6, you will receive one email for each child. Please ensure you use the survey link in each email as each link is unique to a particular student. If you attempt to use the same link, the system will generate a message that says the survey has been completed and the results are saved. If this is not the problem, please try the following:

  • when viewing the second or third email, select the option to fully expand the email prior to opening the link so that you are not viewing a cached version of the email message;
  • try opening the second or third survey link in an incognito or private browsing window; and/or
  • clear your browser's cache and cookies.

Should you have further issues completing the survey please email [email protected].

For more FAQs, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

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