ESCS - Frequently Asked Questions

Every Student Counts Survey logo

From November 12-30, 2018, all YRDSB students in Grades 7 to 12 and parents/guardians of students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 were invited to participate in a system-wide census entitled, the Every Student Count Survey (ESCS). The purpose of the survey is to better understand our students and their experiences in school and outside of school. The survey evaluates YRDSB’s Equity Action Plan and fulfills the Minister of Education’s Direction #10. the board is using the overall findings to help improve our schools and to:

  • Identify and eliminate systemic barriers to student success;
  • Create more equitable and inclusive school environments; and,
  • Improve student achievement and well-being.

YRDSB is using the data of the ESCS as an opportunity to honour our students’ voices and learn more about their school experiences in order to be responsive to their needs.

YRDSB is committed to addressing systemic barriers to student success, creating more equitable and inclusive school environments, and improving student achievement and well-being. Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan encourages school boards to collect student identity-based data for the purpose of achieving these goals. Accordingly, we need to have a better understanding of who our students are and how they experience learning within our schools in order to support their needs, interests and aspirations. Collecting identity-based data is important for evaluating how well our programs, resources and practices support all YRDSB students. Research shows that students from historically and currently marginalized populations often face systemic barriers to learning and success.

Systemic barriers are policies, programs and practices that result in particular groups of students receiving inequitable access to opportunities or being excluded in a way that creates or maintains disadvantages for these marginalized groups. To this end, the ESCS included questions about various aspects of students’ identities (e.g., racial/ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc.). Collecting identity-based information through the ESCS helps us identify the groups of students being underserved so that we can develop and revise programs, strategies, policies and teaching practices, as well as allocate resources and supports to improve school environments and help every student succeed.

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has already conducted Student and Parent/Guardian Census Surveys. TDSB’s Census results have been used to:

  • (a) identify achievement gaps among students,
  • (b) align programs and resources to better meet the needs of underserved students, and
  • (c)establish baseline data to measure improvement over time.

Families of students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 were invited to complete the survey with their children at home. Students in Grades 7 to 12 completed the survey at school. School administrators ensured that all students, including those attending alternative programs, received their invitation to participate in the survey.

The survey took about 20-30 minutes to complete.


For accessibility purposes, all of the accommodations, supports and assistive technology necessary were provided to ensure that every student had the opportunity to participate in the survey. The survey was also available in paper, large print and braille.

Students in Grades 7-12 who were not able to complete the survey independently at school or with the accommodations and supports they typically receive had the option to complete the survey at home with the support of their parents/guardians or caregivers.

Yes. The survey for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 was available in the following top 12 languages identified by York Region demographics and school board enrolment data: English, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, Gujarati, Hebrew, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Tamil, Urdu and Vietnamese. The survey for Grades 7 to 12 students was available in the top 6 languages as identified by school board enrolment data: English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, Russian, Tamil and Urdu.


The ESCS was not available in French. The survey was translated into the most frequently spoken languages as identified by York Region demographics andYRDSB’s enrolment data. French, while one of our country’s official languages, has not been widely identified as a primary language by YRDSB families according to this data. Staff members were made available to interpret any materials for French-speaking students and families, as needed.

 The ESCS was confidential but not anonymous. To ensure confidentiality, no directly identifying information (such as student name) was on the survey. As one of the main purposes of the survey is to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to student success, all surveys included a unique code used to link the survey data with achievement data. The purpose of linking these data is to identify the groups of students being underserved so that we can develop and revise programs, strategies, policies and teaching practices, as well as allocate resources and supports to improve school environments. To protect students’ identities, survey results will only be reported in aggregate form (grouped data only) and no individual students will be identified.



Formal consent from parents or guardians was not required for the ESCS. Legislation regarding participation of students in a board-initiated survey intended for planning and programming purposes permits the collection of survey data without formal parent/guardian consent. Families of students in Grades K-6 provided consent by completing the survey. Families of students in Grades 7-12 withdrew their child from participation in the survey by contacting CCI Research at 1-866-450-4907 no later than October 9,2018.

No. The collection of identity-based data in the ESCSis supported by Canada’s human rights legislative framework, including the Canadian Human Rights Act, the OntarioHuman Rights Code, and section 15(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ontario HumanRights Code permits and encourages the collection and analysis of identity data for the purposes of: identifying and removing systemic barriers, preventing discrimination, and promoting equity and inclusivity.

When collecting personal information such as identity-based data, the YRDSB follows all privacy requirements outlined in the Municipal Freedom of information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). MFIPPA is the provincial legislation that establishes the responsibilities of school boards to protect personal information about individuals including students that is collected, used, retained, disclosed and disposed of.

CCI Research was contracted to work with YRDSB to conduct the survey and to ensure data privacy, security and adherence to all relevant legislation. At YRDSB’s request, CCI Research completed a Third Party Service Provider Privacy Review and an Independent Security Assessment.

To ensure confidentiality of the data, no directly identifying information such as student name or student ID number was in the survey response data or on completed paper surveys. The online survey used an encrypted survey code and a forced encrypted questionnaire with secure methodology (HTTP / SSL over TLS). Paper surveys returned to CCI Research were scanned into a secure database and then destroyed. The database was then transferred to YRDSB using encryption techniques and secure protocols. Only YRDSB’s Research and Assessment Services departments have access to the database for analysis and research purposes. This electronic database is housed at YRDSB for an indefinite period as YRDSB will monitor trends and improvements over time when subsequent ESCSs are implemented. It is expected that the Every Student Counts Survey will be conducted every 4-5 years.

Looking for More Information?


If you have any questions regarding the Every Student Counts Survey, please contact or your school principal. Additional information about the survey is available​.