The Limestone District School Board has released a preliminary report of data collected and next steps from the See Yourself In Limestone Student Census 2020.

More than 10,000 total surveys were completed by students and families in November and December 2020.

The voluntary and confidential census asked a series of questions around identity and demographics to help the board better understand the diverse backgrounds, experiences, strengths and needs within our school communities. The overall goal of the student census is to improve achievement and well-being by identifying opportunities to help all students succeed.

Board staff have spent the past few months verifying and validating the data collected to ensure its integrity. This includes screening for inconsistencies, and reviewing the format of all data fields to ensure it is ready for analysis. The result is the  See Yourself in Limestone Student Census: Preliminary Report (September 2021) which provides a summary of answers to all census questions without any interpretation. Offering data in this format is a requirement of the Ontario Anti-Racism Data Standards. We acknowledge there are more meaningful ways to explore this data and this work is under way.

Next, staff will share findings with stakeholders, and then conduct secondary analyses on achievement and suspension data. “Right now, we are beginning to share the data contained in this report with students, families, staff and community partners,” says Alison McDonnell, Superintendent of Education. “We will discuss the results and start to interpret them together.”

That interpretive work includes the formation of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG),  a group of individuals with research and statistics experience who can offer a variety of perspectives and lived experiences in their analyses. Census data will also show how student identity data intersects with academic outcomes (like graduation and credit accumulation) and student suspensions. By connecting these datasets, we will begin to identify potential systemic barriers in Limestone and their effects on students’ outcomes. “Ultimately, data collected in the Student Census will help us build a shared understanding of what working and learning within an equity lens means, and in Limestone specifically,” says McDonnell.

The preliminary report is the first in what will be a series of themed reports to further share data with school communities. “The Student Census project would not be possible without the continued support and engagement of students, families, staff and community partners,” says McDonnell. “We will continue to build and expand our relationships with our community as we move forward with data analysis and strategic planning.”

The census was completed by students in Grades 4 to 12 during supervised class time between November and  December 2020. Families of Kindergarten to Grade 3 students were invited to participate at home. More than 10,000 total surveys were completed by students and families – an overall response rate of 55 per cent. Among student-only surveys, Limestone’s response rate was 76 per cent.