First-ever ‘See Me in ALCDSB’ student census takes place this month

The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board. Photo by Lucas Mulder.

Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board (ALCDSB) students and families are invited to participate in the first-ever See Me in ALCDSB survey, a confidential and voluntary student census happening from May 9 to 20, 2022.

According to a release from the school board, the student census will collect student demographic and identity data, including information about language, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and more. It also includes questions about school experience.   

The information students and families share will allow board research staff to disaggregate student data to help identify disparities in the school system and measure efforts to improve outcomes for all students, the school board stated. According to the release, the data will be analyzed alongside information already collected under the Education Act, including student achievement, course selection and student discipline data.    

 “The information students and families share through the See Me in ALCDSB survey will help us pinpoint areas of our system we need to change,” said David DeSantis, Director of Education with the ALCDSB. “Most importantly, it will allow us to measure the impact of the changes we put in place, to know if they’re making a difference. This accountability to students and the community is a critical aspect of our efforts to achieve equity.”   

The survey for students in Grades 9 to 12 will be completed by students during class time. The surveys for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and Grade 4 to 8 will be completed by parents/guardians on behalf of their children. According to the release, an email was sent to families with the link for the survey. 

The board said that while the survey is confidential, it is not anonymous. 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. According to the release, school staff will not have access to individual responses. The data will only be presented at a population level, for example, for the entire board or a region of the board.

In the email to families, DeSantis noted that the survey is voluntary and families and students can skip questions they do not wish to answer.

“It’s so important, as we talk about data and student support, that our relationships and responsibilities as members of this community remain at the forefront of all that we do,” DeSantis said. “We’re again asking families to trust us as we work together to support students. This is a voluntary survey; however, the quality of the data is impacted by the response rate, and so we are hopeful our students and families will see the value in participating—their input will help us create a stronger and more responsive school system.”  

The collection of student demographic and identity information is outlined in the ALCDSB Equity Plan and is supported by a mandate from the Ontario government through the Equity Action Plan, and aligns with Ontario’s Data Standards for the Identification and Monitoring of Systemic Racism. The board said that the survey will take place every three years to maintain accurate data to support planning and evaluation.    

Information collected will be stored in a secure, confidential database and only be accessed by authorized data analysts, according to the release. The ALCDSB follows the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).  

More information about the survey is available on the board website, including a recording of an information session in April and a video walkthrough of the survey. ?The Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board serves approximately 12,000 students, employs over 1,400 full-time equivalent staff and covers a geographical area of more than 16,000 square kilometres.

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