The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Student Census was conducted in the spring of 2023 (April to June). It is a confidential and voluntary survey that asks important questions about students’ school experiences and identities. The Student Census, conducted every five years since 2006, allows school communities to determine what is working well, where change is required, and where support should be focused to improve school environments and help every student succeed.
The Census team spent over a year conducting 60+ community consultations to inform the development of the Student Census with students, staff, families, and community members - both within and outside the TDSB.
In total, 138,240 TDSB students (Grade 4 to 12) and parents/guardians/caregivers of Junior Kindergarten (JK) to Grade 3 participated in the Census. This was an overall response rate of 58%. Based on analysis of TDSB grade proportions, student geographic proportions, and proportions of socioeconomic status, a 58% response rate is a strong representation of the student population.
Key Highlights: Student Identity
At a system level, the 2023 Census continues to illustrate the TDSB is one of the most diverse student populations in Canada:
- 7 out of 10 students identify with a racialized group, with the three largest groups being South Asian, East Asian, and Black.
- Students could have reported Indigenous identity in more than one question on the Census. Further analyses with the UIEC are yet to be undertaken with respect to how to calculate the total number of students who self-identified as Indigenous on the Student Census. It is important to note, the actual number of Indigenous students in the TDSB is likely much higher than what is reported in the Census.
- 3.4% of students identify a gender identity(ies) outside of the gender binary. 14.4% of grade 7 to 12 students identify as part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
- 7.5% of students identity as having a disability or disabilities. It should be noted that students’ perception of disability does not necessarily correspond to Special Education data.
- Over one-quarter of students report that religion is not a part of their life. For those students who identified with a religion, the three largest groups are Christian, Muslim, and Hindu.
Key Highlights: Student School Experience
At a system level, the 2023 Census results indicate:
- Consistent to past Census results, students’ report high levels of feeling safe at school, across elementary and secondary panels.
- Students’ feelings related to mental health and well-being are showing recovery compared to data collected during the pandemic.
- Almost half of students report having to hide aspects of their identity at school at times, pointing to a need for the TDSB to continue its efforts in working towards culturally relevant and responsive learning spaces.
- Compared to 2016 Census results, students in grades 4 to 6 are reporting higher levels of school enjoyment; however, students in grades 7 to 12 are reporting significantly lower levels of school enjoyment.
Student Census results are already making their way into school improvement and policy related work. Student Census results are a key piece of data for school improvement processes (SIP) alongside the Ministry’s core priorities in areas of Preparedness for the Future and Student Wellbeing and Belonging.
Additional reporting, integration of other student information (e.g., student achievement), and intersectional analyses will be done in collaboration with students and communities and will be shared with the system throughout the coming school years.