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When personal information is collected, TDSB provides the individual(s) whose personal information is being collected with a notice of collection (NOC). A NOC should include the following:

  • the legal authority for the collection;
  • the principle purpose(s) for which the personal information is intended to be used;
  • the title, business address and telephone number of a person employed by TDSB who can answer questions about the collection.

Personal information on the Census is collected under the authority of sections 27, 58.5(1), 169.1-173, 265,266(2.1) of Education Act , R.S.O. 1990, c.E.2 (“Education Act”), R.R.O. 1990, Regulations 298 (Operation of Schools – General) under Education Act, Anti-Racism Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 15 (“Anti-Racism Act”), and O.Reg. 267/18: General under Anti-Racism Act, 2017, S.O. 2017, c. 15, and will be used by TDSB for educational and research purposes, to support TDSB and schools to provide effective education programs and services, and to improve schools to better meet the needs of our diverse learners. This information is collected, retained, used, and disclosed in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M56 (“MFIPPA”) and will be shared with authorized TDSB and school staff and approved research organizations on agreement with TDSB, if required, in order to administer the above purposes. Questions regarding this collection should be directed to your principal and local school administration or Senior Manager, TDSB Research Department by email at, by phone at 416-394-7404, or by mail at 1 Civic Centre Court, Lower Level, Etobicoke, Ontario M9C 2B3.

The TDSB Student Census 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.

Collection of identity-based data in the TDSB dates back to the 1970s as part of the former Toronto Board of Education (TBE). Identity-based data collection efforts at the TBE were first undertaken in response to community and Trustee concerns about issues like overrepresentation of Black and other historically marginalized students in Special Education and other discriminatory practices like academic streaming. The data collection was paused during the amalgamation of school boards in 1998, but resumed as a result of a Board motion in 2004 in the form of the current TDSB Student Census surveys (starting in 2006). Each new round of surveys over the last few decades has witnessed an expanded scope, adding additional questions about student experiences such as school climate, sense of belonging, safety, self-perceived abilities, health and well-being, and post-secondary plans as well as student identity questions.

To see translated versions of the Student Census, click here.

The Student Census asks parents/caregivers/guardians questions about their country of birth, parental presence, education level, and country of education. This information is used to understand socioeconomic patterns within school communities and explore resourcing supports for schools.

Parent/guardian/caregiver countries of birth is generated based on existing parent/guardian/caregiver data in the Student Information System.

Since 2006, TDSB schools have been collecting identity-based data through the Student Census to identify and remove systemic barriers which may limit student achievement and well-being. The Ontario Human Rights Code permits the collection and analysis of data based on grounds such as race, disability or gender as long as it is for legitimate purposes (e.g. identifying and removing systemic barriers, preventing disadvantage or promoting substantive equality) and not contrary to the Code.

Since 2018, under the Provincial Anti-Racism Act, school boards have been encouraged to collect identity-based data, including Indigenous identity, ethnic origin, race and religion. As of January 2023, identity-based data collection is now mandated for school boards.

Specifically related to gender, understanding gender diversity for students is part of a school's responsibility in creating accepting and positive school climates. In 2012, the Ontario Human Rights Code (Toby's Act Bill 31) incorporated gender identity and expression as fundamental legal human rights for every citizen - ensuring that one's 'lived gender identity' is one's legal gender identity. At the same time, in 2012 the Education Act (Bill 13 Accepting Schools Act) incorporated all areas protected under the human rights code including gender identity and gender expression and made explicit that all boards must ensure safe, inclusive and positive school climates accepting of all students.

No, the Student Census is completely voluntary for students. While we encourage students to try to complete the survey, students can skip the entire survey or any question that they do not feel comfortable answering.

Parents/guardians/caregivers also have an opportunity to complete an “opt-out” form if they do not want their child to participate in the Census.

Please see information below regarding consent for each Grade level.

  • Kindergarten to Grade 3: Parents/guardians/caregivers complete the census.
  • Grades 4 to 8: A new consent process for students will provide parents/guardians/caregivers the choice of having their child complete the Census themselves at school, or at home.
  • Grades 9 to 12: Parents/guardians/caregivers have an opportunity to complete an “opt-out” form if they do not want their child to participate in the Census.

No, the Student Census is not anonymous, but it is confidential. To ensure confidentiality, no direct identifying information (such as student name) will be required on the survey. As one of the main purposes of the Census is to identify and remove systemic barriers to student success, all surveys will include a student ID number. This ID number is used to match survey results with other pieces of data in the Student Information System at the TDSB (e.g. grades, course enrollment). After the data sets are joined, the student ID numbers are removed.

No individual students will be identified. Student data is never analyzed at the individual level. Students, teachers, parents/guardians/caregivers, peers, or principals will not know how individual students answered the questions.

TDSB will ensure that TDSB students’ privacy is protected. We will take steps to secure and protect the Census data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure and inadvertent destruction by adhering to established safeguards, TDSB privacy obligations and records retention schedule. All data that is captured as a result of the Census will be stored digitally in a secure database and can only be accessed by authorized TDSB Research staff.

In addition, the Census reports will never single out or identify a student or family, and results will only be reported in a summarized way, to provide understanding of school community needs.

While TDSB is subject to MFIPPA and its associated regulations and may be required to disclose the information pursuant to that legislation, at all times, your personal information will be protected in accordance with the TDSB privacy obligations set out in MFIPPA and the TDSB Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Policy (P094).

Kindergarten to Grade 3 Students

At the end of March, Parents/guardians/caregivers of students in kindergarten to grade 3 will be sent a link to the survey via the email address they have provided the Board.

Paper copies will be made available upon request.

Grade 4 to 12 Students

April 17 and onwards throughout April, class time will be provided to complete the Census for students in grades 4 – 12.

A new consent process for students in grades 4 to 8 will provide parents/guardians/caregivers the choice of having their child complete the Census themselves at school, or at home.

Students that do not complete the Census during class time are provided with classroom work at the teachers discretion.

For most students in grade 7 to 12, the Census can be completed in approximately 45 minutes. The Census for students in Grades 4-6 and the Kindergarten to Grade 3 Census (that parents/guardians/caregivers complete on behalf of their child) has fewer questions and can be completed in less time. Schools will be given three weeks to complete the Census and educators have discretion to administer the Census in ways that work best in their classrooms.

Yes, the Student Census is available to all students. Any accommodations, supports and assistive technology necessary to ensure that every student has the opportunity to participate will be provided.

Students in Mild Intellectual Disability (MID) programs will be provided with an adapted version of the Census and parents/guardians/caregivers will be asked to answer demographic questions on their behalf. Parents/guardians/caregivers of students in Developmental Disability(DD) programs will be asked to complete the Census on behalf of their child.

Yes. The Student Census uses the online survey platform Qualtrics which is compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). This platform has accessibility features built-in and is compatible with screen reading technology. In addition, educators have been advised to support students in completing the Census in the same way that students are supported in their classes. If you have accessibility needs or prefer the use of another format to meet your needs, please contact

Yes, the Student Census will be translated into several languages to support students and parents/guardians/caregivers who need a version in their language.

The TDSB Census Team spent over a year conducting 60+ community consultations to develop the Student Census with students, staff, families, and community members within and outside the TDSB. The process to engage communities was determined in collaboration with communities themselves. While community needs were large and varied, the extensive consultation process helped to narrow the focus and informed the draft survey.

The Census Team then piloted the draft survey in a number of classrooms representing different racial, religious, socioeconomic and geographic communities of the TDSB. As part of this pilot, students and families had opportunities to review and offer feedback about the proposed questions.

Overall results for the TDSB will be presented to Senior Staff and Trustees. Each school with a sufficient number of students responding will receive a school level report for school improvement planning. Staff and students will use the information to explore and question the results, delve deeper, have conversations with each other, and plan and act for change where necessary.

The TDSB Research Department worked in collaboration with the Urban Indigenous Education Centre (UIEC) and the Urban Indigenous Community Advisory Committee to create an Indigenous Research Working Group that had membership from the UIEC Elder’s Council, the Urban Indigenous Education Community Advisory Committee, the UIEC, and other urban Indigenous community members and academics. The working group met several times to talk through concerns and questions and to identify ways to support Indigenous Data Sovereignty with respect to the Student Census. Community members highlighted the importance of centering Indigenous Data Sovereignty by working with frameworks such as the First Nations Principles of OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession). The First Nations Principles of OCAP assert that First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used. Conversations within the Indigenous Research Working Group led to direct student involvement in the piloting and critiquing of survey questions.

The TDSB Research Department is working in collaboration with the TDSB Urban Indigenous Education Centre and the TDSB Urban Indigenous Community Advisory Committee to identify ways to support Indigenous Data Sovereignty. Community members highlighted the importance of centering Indigenous Data Sovereignty by working with frameworks such as the First Nations Principles of OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession). This asserts that First Nations have control over data collection processes, and that they own and control how this information can be used. All Student Census research team members have completed OCAP training and are working with the Urban Indigenous Education Centre to understand how OCAP principles apply to the Student Census process. Conversations about how to apply this framework, and/or considering other Indigenous Data Sovereignty frameworks will be pursued in the future.

While individual student data is never shared, summary Student Census data is shared beyond the TDSB. In the past, data has been shared with government (e.g. City of Toronto) and academic institutions (e.g. University of Toronto, York University) who are advancing policy, research and programs aligned with the goals of the Student Census. In addition, anonymized Student Census data has also been shared with members of the public who complete a Freedom of Information Request. This process is outlined within MFIPPA and TDSB's Freedom of Information Policy.