New reports highlight student identities and experiences in Peel District School Board

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The Peel District School Board has released elementary and overall board results from its first board-wide Student Census.

This includes demographic information and school experiences of over 127,000 students and families.

Results for grades 9 to 12 were released earlier this school year.

“The Student Census reports provide a glimpse into the realities of student life and help paint a clearer picture of the communities we serve,” said Director of Education Peter Joshua.

We are committed to using this valuable data to make the education experience for students the best it can be, with a focus on improving student outcomes, especially for those who have been historically underserved.”

In November 2018, following a motion by the Board of Trustees, the Peel board launched its first board-wide Student Census.

While students in grades 4 to 12 were invited to complete the census in class, while parents/guardians of students in kindergarten to grade 3 received a questionnaire to fill out on behalf of their child(ren). 

A total of 127,377 Student Census questionnaires were completed.

This resulted in a response rate of 79.2% for all Peel board schools; 75.1% for all elementary schools and 90.5% for all secondary schools and specialized sites.

“With authentic student voices guiding the way, our Student Census results will have a fundamental role to play in our system’s strategic planning and decision-making moving forward,” said Joshua.

We look forward to diving deeper into these results to eliminate barriers to student success and well-being, and to create safe and inclusive learning environments and programs that meet student needs.”

School administrators will be provided with access to school-specific reports, tools and training next school year, to integrate this data into their school success planning.

Census data will also be incorporated into the board’s plans to address anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic discrimination in the Peel board.

This is in response to directives from the Ministry of Education in their recent review of the board.

Full reports can be found at www.peelschools.org/studentcensus, as well as a snapshot of Peel board students’ identities by municipality.

Each report provides a breakdown of perceptual data and factors that commonly contribute to student achievement, engagement and well-being.

This includes students’ sense of belonging, feelings about their climate and safety and healthy habits. 

Additionally, the census collected demographic data to provide an overview of student identities in the Peel board.

The top five single racial backgrounds reported by Peel board students are South Asian (48.8%), White (13.3%), Black (9.5%), Middle Eastern (5.8%) and East Asian (4.7%).

The census also indicated that 666 or 0.5% of students identify as First Nations, Metis, Inuit or another Indigenous identity and the ethnic or cultural backgrounds most frequently reported by students are Indian (30.2%), Canadian (23.1%), Pakistani (11.6%), Jamaican (6.4%) and Chinese (5.3%).

The most common religions, faiths, spiritualities or creeds of Peel board students are Islam (23.5%), Christianity (19.2%), Sikhism (17.6%), Hinduism (15.7%) and no religion (7.9%).

Peel board students self-identified as male (50.7%), female (47.7%), multiple gender identities (0.3%), another gender identity not listed (0.2%), questioning (0.1%), transgender (0.1%) and intersex (0.05%).

The sexual orientation most frequently reported by grade 7 to 12 students is heterosexual (79.1%), while another 7.9% identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

It is important to note that these reports do not provide connections between how students identify and their experiences; as that data is still being analyzed.

Our next steps are critical ones. We owe it to our school communities to make sure these results aren’t just numbers on a page. We are committed to honouring students’ voices and taking action to address areas of concern,” said Joshua.

The census was both voluntary and confidential and all responses are stored in a secure database and accessed only by the Peel board’s Research and Accountability Department.

The census follows the province’s Education Equity Action Plan, Ontario’s strategy for identifying and eliminating discriminatory practices, barriers, and biases from schools and classrooms.

It is also a critical step to supporting equity and addressing the factors affecting it. 

For more information about the Student Census, including the elementary, secondary and full board reports, visit www.peelschools.org/studentcensus.

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