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ESCS - Frequently Asked Questions
ESCS - Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is t​he purpose of the Every Student Counts Survey (ESCS)?

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

Every Student Counts Survey logo

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

YRDSB looks forward to using the ESCS as an opportunity to honor our students’ voices and learn more about their school experiences in order to be responsive to their needs.

Q: Why does the survey ask students about identity-based information?

A: 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 includes questions about various aspects of students’ identities (e.g., racial/ethnic background, sexual orientation, etc.). Collecting identity-based information through the ESCS will help 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.

The ESCS can be reviewed (for information only; please do not complete) on the ESCS webpage.


Q: How have other school boards used census survey data?

A: 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. 


Q: How will YRDSB’s Every Student Counts survey be completed?

A: Families of students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 are invited to complete the survey with their children at home. Students in Grades 7 to 12 will complete the survey at school. School administrators will ensure that all students, including those attending alternative programs, receive their invitation to participate in the survey.


Q: How long does the survey take to complete at home or at school?

A: The survey should take about 20-30 minutes to complete.


Q: Is the ESCS available for students with special education needs?

A: For accessibility purposes, all of the accommodations, supports and assistive technology necessary to ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate in the survey will be provided. The survey will also be available in paper, large print and braille.


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


Q: Is the ESCS available in languages other than English?

A: Yes. The survey for students in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 will be 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 7-12 students will be available in the top 6 languages as identified by school board enrolment data: English, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, Russian, Tamil and Urdu.


Q: Is the ESCS available in French?

A: The ESCS is not available in French.  The survey is translated into the most frequently spoken languages as identified by York Region demographics and YRDSB’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 will be available to interpret any materials for French speaking students and families, as needed. Please contact your school if you require assistance.


Q: Is the survey anonymous?

A: The Every Student Counts Survey (ESCS) is confidential but not anonymous. To ensure confidentiality, no directly identifying information (such as student name) will be on the survey. As one of the main purposes of the survey is to identify and eliminate systemic barriers to student success, all surveys will include a unique code that will be 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.


Q: Is parental consent required before students complete the survey?

A: Formal consent from parents or guardians is 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 will provide consent by completing the survey. Families of students in Grades 7-12 can withdraw their child from participation in the survey by contacting CCI Research at 1-866-450-4907 no later than October 9, 2018.


Q: What if I do not want (my child) to answer certain questions?

A: Completing the survey is voluntary.  All participants have the option to skip questions they do not wish to answer.


Q: What if my child does not participate in the survey?

A: Students in Grades 7 to 12 will participate in the survey during class time. Students who are not participating in the survey will complete other school work during this time. 


Q: Does the collection of personal information violate the Human Rights Code or the Protection of Privacy?

A: No. The collection of identity-based data is supported by Canada’s human rights legislative framework, including the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Ontario Human Rights Code, and section 15(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Ontario Human Rights 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 responsibilities of school boards to protect personal information about individuals including students, that is collected, used, retained, disclosed and disposed of.


Q: What security procedures are in place to ensure confidentiality and security of the data?

A: CCI Research has been 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 has 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 will be in the survey response data or on completed paper surveys. The online survey uses an encrypted survey code and a forced encrypted questionnaire with secure methodology (https / SSL over TLS). Paper surveys will be returned to CCI Research, scanned into a secure database and then destroyed. The database will then be  transferred to YRDSB using encryption techniques and secure protocols. Only YRDSB’s Research and Assessment Services department will have  access to the database for analysis and research purposes. This electronic database will be housed at YRDSB for an indefinite period as YRDSB will monitor trends and improvements over time when subsequent Every Student Counts Surveys (ESCS) are implemented. It is expected that the Every Student Counts Survey will be conducted every 4-5 years. ​ 

Looking for More Inform​ation?

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

This important initiative will help us work together to create equitable and inclusive school environments. Parents and guardians are our strongest partners in education and we thank you for your support.​​​​​​​​

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