Student Census: Frequently Asked Questions

Limestone Learning Foundation

Why do we need this survey?

Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan encourages School Boards to collect student identity-based data to identify potential barriers or gaps and determine how to eliminate discriminatory biases in our classes and schools as outlined in the Ontario Education Equity Action Plan.

School boards across the province are completing a Census with their school communities in order to better understand the needs of student populations and school communities. The Census will gather demographic data (statistical information) to help us better understand the communities we serve.

Several school boards have already completed their first Census, while other boards, like Limestone, are completing it this school year or next.

Why is Limestone collecting these data?

Limestone is committed to serving our students as best we can. To do this, we want to gain a clearer understanding of who our students are and our school communities.

Collecting identity-based information through the Student Census will help us 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 and help every student succeed.

LDSB looks forward to using the Student Census as an opportunity to honour our students’ voices and learn more about their school experiences in order to be responsive to their needs.

Who will complete the survey?

All students are being asked to complete the census. Students in Grades 4 to 12 will complete the survey online at school, including LDSB Virtual School students. Families of students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be asked to complete the survey with their student(s) at home. School administrators will ensure that all students, including those attending alternative programs, receive an invitation to participate in the survey. 

Is the Student Census available for students with special education needs?

Yes. 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. 

Is parental consent required before students complete the survey?

Formal consent from families is not required. Legislation regarding participation of students in a Board-initiated survey intended for planning and programming purposes permits the collection of survey data. The survey is voluntary. Families can withdraw their child from participation in the survey by contacting their Principal.

Is the Student Census available in languages other than English?

Yes. The survey for students will be available in the following top 10 languages as identified by school board enrolment data: Arabic, Cantonese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Urdu. 

What types of questions are included in the Student Census?

The Student Census asks questions about student identity that include languages, gender, sexual orientation, religion/creed/faith, ethnicity, race, nationality, disability and socio-economics. Perceptual questions relating to opportunities, sense of belonging, and well-being are also included. 

Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be supported by staff who have been provided with various resources such as mentor texts to support them in helping students to prepare for the language and concepts of the survey.


Why are we asking about masculinity/femininity?

Masculinity and femininity are common ways we describe another person’s gender expression, or how they externally present and convey their gender identity to others. Gender expression is one of the protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Since we are collecting demographic data based on human rights code protected grounds, this question is important to include. Along with, and separate from gender identity, it is critical to understand how gender expression is affecting students' experience at school, as research has shown that students who are read as gender non-conforming (i.e., who do not express gender like other people expect them to) report greater harassment and violence whether or not they are LGBTQ+. In other words, gender identity and sexual orientation do not necessarily predict gender-based harassment - gender expression does. This means that gender expression discrimination is an issue potentially experienced by a large proportion of Limestone students. The question, as written with the seven-point scale, has been validated by the most recent research on gender expression. Retaining their format is the most rigorous way to ask about gender expression since masculinity and femininity each have a very wide range.


Why are you asking questions about socio-economic status (such as how many TVs or bathrooms a student has in their home)?

The data collected through the census will help us learn more about Limestone students – their backgrounds, experiences and needs. Questions around a student’s socio-economic status (family education, wealth etc.) help to provide a full picture of a student and have been validated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) and were recommended for inclusion by the Ministry of Education. Further, measuring the socio-economic status of students can be directly related to student achievement. The Ministry also provided boards with guidelines on how to ask these important questions.

Does my child need to answer every question on the cenus?

The Student Census is voluntary. Students may choose to skip questions if they do not wish to provide answers, or they can choose not to participate at all. It is important to note that the higher the completion rate, the more reliable the information will be in helping us to identify and remove systemic barriers and bias, and provide better services to our students and communities. 

Can I view a copy of the Student Census before my child participates?

Yes. Copies of the census are available for review.

What gives the school board the right to collect this information?

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 Commission 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. 

Is the Student Census anonymous?

The census is confidential but not anonymous. To ensure confidentiality, no directly identifying information (such as student name) will be required to be typed 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 unique identifiers that will allow us to identify groups of students. No individual students will be identified. Students will log in using their secure Active Directory account.

How will responses be kept confidential and secure?

The census is confidential but not anonymous. We respect the privacy of our students and families. Data will be collected in a secure manner in accordance with applicable privacy legislation and best practices.

Student names will not appear on the survey. Each survey will include a unique survey ID. All data will be stored in a secure, confidential Canadian data base that will be accessed by authorized Limestone research staff to identify and summarize board trends.

Reports will never single out or identify a student or family, and will only be reported in a summarized way, to provide understanding of school community needs.

Privacy requirements outlined in the Municipal freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) will be followed. 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. The confidential database will only be accessed by research staff at the Limestone D.S.B. for analysis and research purposes.

My student completed the survey. How do I see their responses?

The survey is confidential and all information collected is protected. As shared in earlier communication, we encourage families to discuss the questions with their student(s) to understand their responses.


How will the census data be used?

Once responses are processed and analyzed, the Limestone District School Board will produce a series of reports to help inform board and school decision-making for programs and instruction. Data reports or analysis will never single out a student. By law, the Limestone District School Board cannot reveal individualized information for any student who completes the census.

What do I do if I am having technical difficulties accessing the census?

If you are having difficulty logging in, or require more technical support, please contact our Information Technology Services team at 613.417.3559  between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday, or at [email protected]

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.