2018 Every Student Counts Survey

In 2018, the first Every Student Counts Survey was conducted in every school across the York Region District School Board. Over 126,000 survey invitations or survey packages were sent to families of Kindergarten to Grade 6 students and Grades 7 to 12 students.

The purpose of the ESCS is to better understand our students’ identities as well as their experiences. ESCS results are used to inform Board and school improvement planning that aims to:

  • identify and eliminate systemic barriers to student success

  • create more equitable and inclusive school environments

  • improve student achievement and well-being

Findings from the 2018 ESCS were used to develop strategies and realign supports to where they are needed the most. As outlined in Director's Action Plan, this work was be guided by an anti-oppression framework. Board and staff members will engage in learning to use the data from the ESCS in order to identify, interrupt and eliminate discriminatory practices and systemic barriers from schools and classrooms to continue supporting student achievement and well-being.

The Board has been working closely with the community to understand their needs and to co-create themed research studies and evaluation solutions that are inclusive, relevant, meaningful and actionable. The reports that have been developed are available on this page.

The Research and Assessment Services teams have been working closely with the YRDSB community to understand their needs and to co-create themed research reports and evaluation solutions that are inclusive, relevant, actionable and meaningful. 

This series of Every Student Counts Survey (ESCS) themed research reports is the result of comprehensive community engagement through ongoing consultations with community partners on data analysis and reporting of the ESCS data. This includes working closely with members of the Parent and Family Engagement Advisory Committee (PEAC), Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee (EIAC), and the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) to develop system-level reports for release starting in August  2021. 

Ongoing Community Engagement

At the centre of our community engagement strategy is active listening, responding, learning and co-creating reports with community partners. We work to maintain trust by integrating teams to ensure there is a forum which engages community partners in ongoing dialogue regarding research methodologies and reporting. Ongoing communication with our communities about the use of the ESCS data is an essential part of our community engagement process. 

Sharing the ESCS process and results through themed reports, infographics, and an open data set for public use increases credibility, usability, and impact. It is important for participants to see how the data is treated, how their feedback is being used, as well as the impact that their engagement has on the future work of the Board.

Although we engaged in a series of comprehensive community consultations in the development of these themed reports, we wholeheartedly believe that there is always room for growth to partner with communities, particularly in co-constructing the ongoing themed reports. In efforts to best collaborate and hear the voices of community members, we welcome any feedback for next steps regarding the current and ongoing reporting structures. If desired, you may contact research.services@yrdsb.ca with your feedback.

Anti-Oppression Framework

It is important to review the findings through an Anti-Oppression Framework to understand that differences in the educational experiences and outcomes among various groups are the direct result of inequities within and beyond schools and school boards, and are not a reflection of deficits within students and their families. We encourage readers to engage with the questions below, which support a review of the data from an Anti-Oppression perspective. As such, it is important to review findings in this report with the understanding that: 

  • Biases must be examined to ensure that students, families, and communities are not further marginalized or stigmatized in reviewing and interpreting data.
  • Disparities in student experiences and outcomes reflect systemic inequities.
  • Responses to disparities in student outcomes must focus on strategies and initiatives to promote equitable institutional structures and practices. 

Engaging with ESCS Data 

  • What do you notice about the data? What stands out for you? 
  • How does your social location influence how you interpret the data? 
  • How will you shift or maintain your focus on looking at systems and structures (e.g., school practices, school environment, Board practices) rather than attributing students’ experiences and outcomes to deficits within students and families? 
  • What does the data suggest about the experiences of students and their families? 
  • What assumptions or inferences might you be making about students and their families based on the data? 
  • Whose voices may not be represented in the data? 
  • In what ways are the data similar to, or different from, other data sources (e.g., municipal, community agencies, other school boards)? 
  • What additional data sources are needed to understand both complementary and divergent perspectives regarding educational experiences? 

 

View Report: Facts and Trends in Suspensions (PDF)

View Infographic: Equity Measures in Suspensions (PDF)

The first report, Facts and Trends in Suspensions, shows that while suspension rates remained relatively stable prior to pandemic, students who self-identified as Black, Indigenous and Latino/a/x and Middle Eastern are disproportionately suspended from school. In addition, students with Special Education Needs (excluding gifted) had higher suspension rate and were  over-represented in the suspensions compared to students without special education needs.

The disproportionality ratio is used by the Board to identify over representation and under-representation of an identity group in suspensions compared with their representation in the YRDSB population.

Collecting identity-based data through the ESCS supports the identification of groups of students who are underserved through such disciplinary practices, and as a result are unable to reach their full academic, social and emotional potential at York Region District School Board. By addressing the role student discipline plays in streaming students towards particular pathways (e.g., unemployment), the aim of this report is to bring about positive change for students who are historically and currently underserved. 

​​​​To address these inequities YRDSB will:

  • Continue to provide training and support on applying bias-aware progressive discipline, racial and historical trauma, anti-Black racism and Indigenous education.
  • Update its protocol to address all incidents of racism, hate and discrimination.
  • Implement a new process for September 2021 to record all incidents of hate, racism and discrimation.
  • Review and revise restorative practices through the lens of anti-oppression and anti-racism. 
  • Create an intervention program for Black students at risk of being, or who have been suspended or expelled with the aim of providing inclusive and engaging learning spaces for all students that honour and affirm students’ individual identities, in order to reduce the number of school days lost to suspensions, as outlined in the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy
  • Strengthen the anti-racism protocol to address incidents of anti-Black racism. This protocol will identify the steps that educators, school administrators, and staff must take when they witness an incident, or when one is brought to their attention, as outlined in the Dismantling Anti-Black Racism Strategy.  
  • Ensure appropriate intervention strategies are put in place that align with the students’ Individual Education Plans. 
  • Expunge suspension records for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school year. 
  • Implement age-appropriate prevention programs, practising early intervention and providing the necessary wraparound supports to meet the needs of the students.

View Report: Special Education (PDF)

View Infographic: Overall Status and Equity Measures in Special Education 

The Special Education Themed report examines the structures and processes of Special Education in YRDSB; as well as, the demographics (identities) and achievement characteristics of students in Special Education programs.

Although YRDSB’s Special Education planning, program development and service delivery processes have a strong tradition of including students with special needs as an integral part of our culture, findings from the ESCS Special Education report points to disproportionalities, that is, inequities, in student experiences and outcomes based on socio-demographic characteristics including, but not limited to, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, exceptionalities, program of study and suspensions. The following are the Snapshot Findings from the ESCS Special Education Themed Report 2018-19:

  • Overall, 16% of students in YRDSB were identified with an exceptionality.  The vast majority of students with Special Education Needs were identified with a Learning Disability (6% of all students).
  • Nearly 90% of students without Special Education Needs accumulated 30 or more credits in Grade 12, while only 80% of students with Special Education needs (excluding Gifted) accumulated 30 plus credits.
  • Eighty-seven percent (87%) of students with Special Education Needs accumulated 8 or more credits in Grade 9, while 95% of students without Special Education needs accumulated eight or more credits.
  • The decision to enroll students in the Grade 9 Applied program of study had strong implications for students’ futures regarding post-secondary access.  Most Grade 9 students with Special Education needs are placed in courses at the Applied and Locally Developed levels. 
  • Students who had a Gifted exceptionality had the lowest suspension rates, while those who had other Special Education needs had the highest suspension rates (Grades 3 -12) and were highly over-represented with a disproportionality index of 2.87.
  • Students who self-identified as Black, Latino/Latinx, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Indigenous students were under-represented in the  Gifted exceptionality.  

Drawing on findings from the ESCS 2018-19, the aim of this report is to prompt critical dialogue that will contribute to positive change for students who experience inequities at an individual level and, as a result, have historically been underserved, with the intention of better serving these students. 

​​​​To address these inequities YRDSB will:

  • Place the individual student at the centre of our actions.
  • Conduct interdisciplinary “In-school Team Meetings” that focus on proactive interventions and supports.
  • Ensure active family and student voice in the proactive planning to support students.
  • Move to phase two of the Executive Function Pilot and empower students through the realization of the strengths they bring to learning and how they can build critical executive functioning skills.
  • Engage in anti-oppressive assessment practices that are evidence-informed, culturally responsive and identity-affirming from a strengths-based approach with an emphasis on mattering and belonging.
  • Provide culturally relevant and responsive care and education as well as ensure family-friendly and translated communications.
  • Engage in an interdepartmental review of effectiveness and appropriateness of the Student Support Centre structure.
  • Support de-streaming of math through a pilot geared towards closing the learning gaps for students in a Student Support Centre placement for math.
  • Ensure the full implementation of the EA Strategy in order to maximize inclusion and support barrier-free access to meaningful education for all students.
  • Continue to support the Empower Reading program to support students with severe learning disabilities with learning to read.
  • Support system understanding and appropriate application of mitigating circumstances when considering suspension and expulsion of students with Special Education Needs.
  • Create and implement a protocol to support school-based teams with decisions about modified days and exclusions for students with Special Education Needs.
  • Review Special Education Placement options within the Board to ensure equitable access to services for all students.
  • Examine the impact of intersecting social identities for students with Special Education Needs in the areas of programming, services and supports.
  • Address and reduce disproportionality of representation where it exists in Special Education programs and identifications.
  • Build collaborative relationships with external organizations and agencies that provide critical services to students with Special Education Needs (e.g., Children’s Treatment Network, Kinark, Mackenzie Health).
  • Update the Learning Disabilities Strategic Plan to ensure alignment with goals within the Director’s Action Plan (DAP).

The Director’s Action Plan goals focus on raising the learning outcomes of students who are underserved and underperforming. This aligns with the Ministry of Education’s Learning for All, which outlines that “assistance targeted at a specific group can help everyone”. When we focus on raising the learning outcomes and well-being of students who are underserved and underperforming, all students benefit.

View Report: Mental Health and Well-Being (PDF)

View Infographic: Overall Student's Mental Health and Well-Being

The Mental Health and Well-being Themed report underscores YRDSB’s continued commitment to human rights, equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression, particularly in connection to providing safe, caring, welcoming, healthy and inclusive schools to improve the learning outcomes and well-being of underserved students. While a range of data are used to support students by monitoring systemic impacts on student experiences and outcomes, this report focuses on the self-reported mental health and well-being of students at YRDSB, emphasizing the 2018-2019 school year when the ESCS was administered. 

Findings from the ESCS Mental Health and Well-being Themed Report 2018-19, shows that:  

  • Overall, students’ emotional well-being decreased considerably by grade panel.
  • Students in Grades K-6 and Grades 7-8 reported higher rates of feeling happy, good about themselves, positive about the future and mattering to people at school all the time or often compared to students in Grades 9-12.
  • There are noticeable differences between the percentage of students who reported having negative emotions all the time or often in Grades 7-8 and Grades 9-12 compared to students in Grades K- 6. 
  •  Although the York Region District School Board’s Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, program development and service delivery processes have a strong foundation in an anti-oppressive social framework, findings from the ESCS Mental Health and Well-Being report points to disparities, that is, inequities, in student experiences and outcomes based on socio-demographic characteristics including, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, Special Education Needs (SEN), exceptionalities, and program of study.  

The recent COVID-19 pandemic in the year 2020-21 school year resulted in several school shutdowns and stay-at-home orders for students and families, which may have significantly impacted students’ mental health and well-being since the administration of the 2018-19 ESCS. We will be learning more about this through student and family climate surveys administered in the 2020-21 school year.

Drawing on findings from the ESCS 2018-19, the aim of this report is to prompt critical dialogue that will contribute to positive change for students who experience such inequities  at an individual level and, as a result, have historically been underserved, with the intention of better serving these students. 

​​​​To address these inequities YRDSB will:

Director’s Action Plan goals focus on raising the learning outcomes, well-being, and sense of belongingness of students who are underserved and underperforming. More specifically, Goal 1 – Foster Well-Being and Mental Health, states: “Build safe, healthy and inclusive learning and working environments where students and staff feel they matter and belong.”

The two student-level key actions associated with this goal are: 

1.1   Provide learning opportunities and resources to prioritize and support the mental health and well-being of students and staff by focusing on creating caring communities and understanding anxiety related to trauma.

1.2   Partner with identity-specific mental health organizations to develop supports that respond to the needs of racialized students.

To support the learning outcomes and mental health of students and remove barriers to meaningful education that create inequities for groups of students, we will:

  • Implement the ABCs of Mental Health Lesson Series for K-12 (Acknowledge, Bridge, Connection). The series is designed with an anti-oppressive framework, which identifies and challenges oppressive ideologies such as pathologization, universalism, and deficit thinking.
  • Place the individual student at the centre of our actions.
  • Ensure active family and student voice in the proactive planning to support students.
  • Enhance the Family Mental Health Newsletter 2021-22 editions with emphasis on tips for families and encouraging dialogue with schools in efforts to provide accessible communications for families (e.g., encouraging participation in web events, and drop-ins for families and youth).
  • Provide culturally relevant and responsive mental health care and education.
  • Centre intersecting social identities for students in affirming practices in programming, services and supports.
  • Continue to build collaborative relationships with external organizations and agencies that provide culturally, racially, and linguistically relevant mental health services.
  • Enhance and extend student leadership for mental health initiatives in tandem with student leaders and other stakeholders. 

The Director’s Action Plan goals focus on raising the learning outcomes and mental health and well-being of students who are underserved and underperforming. This aligns with the Ministry of Education’s Learning for All, which outlines that “assistance targeted at a specific group can help everyone”. When we focus on raising the learning outcomes and well-being of students who are underserved and underperforming, all students benefit.

For questions about the student census, contact research.services@yrdsb.ca.

YRDSB is committed to privacy and confidentiality in collecting information about students and follows all privacy requirements outlined in the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). The information gathered through the ESCS is collected under the legal authority of the Education Act (R.S.O. 1990, c. E. 2, as amended) for educational and research purposes only.