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Research Reports

Research Reports

Addressing Educational Debt in Adolescent Literacy (DIAL), Year 1 Report
September 2021

The TDSB is committed to addressing intermediate learners in our schools who are not yet reading at or close to grade level. This negatively impacts student’s educational outcomes and their development of a positive reading identity. The report provides a high-level overview of how the DIAL initiative was experienced by practitioners thus far, with some emerging information about impacts of this work on educators, students, and classrooms.

Anti-Racism Directorate Partnership: Black Student Success and Excellence Initiative and the Pre-Kindergarten Summer Learning Program
April 2021

The TDSB has partnered with the Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD) to extend ongoing efforts to support Black students in classrooms and schools. This initiative, tied to student voice, teacher practice and leadership competencies, provides opportunities to change school culture by building the critical consciousness of educators and students alike. Research of, and with, the Black Student Success and Excellence (BSSE; TDSB, 2019) initiative aims to identify scalable conditions for fostering Black student success system wide.

Beyond 3:30 Multi-Year Evaluation for Model Schools for Inner Cities (MSIC) Program

Beyond 3:30 (B3:30) is an after-school program which provides multifaceted programming on school premises to Grades 6-8 students, and more recently, also to Grades 3-5 students. A formative evaluation (Phase I), conducted in the 2020-21 school year, extended the learnings from previous B3:30 evaluations within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a particular focus on the program expansion to Grades 3-5. The Phase II formative evaluation of B3:30 examined program delivery, challenges, and preliminary outcomes in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic recovery as the program pivoted back to in-person delivery amidst the pandemic.

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement: Black Students Adventures in Engineering
December 2021

Black Students Adventures in Engineering program highlights the TDSB's efforts to improve equity in access and reduce barriers to post-secondary education (PSE) and pathways to science and engineering for Black students. The program was evaluated in June and July 2021 using a pre-and post-evaluation survey to explore ACB students’ early exposure to and participation in PSE and science and engineering post-secondary pathways. 

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement: Black Student Summer Leadership Program (BSSLP) 2021
February 2022

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement at TDSB designed and delivered its third annual Black Student Summer Leadership Program (BSSLP) in July 2021. The BSSLP is a unique program that offers leadership training and paid work experiences for self-identified Black students in secondary schools across the TDSB. This report provides an understanding of how Black students and experiential partners interacted with and benefited from the BSSLP. 

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement: Focussed Conversations with African, Afro-Caribbean, Black Students, Families and Community
January 2022

In 2021, The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement conducted consultations with African, Afro-Caribbean, and Black (ACB) students, their families and community members. The consultations sought to elicit perspectives from each education partner in relation to the role of the Centre of Excellence and the TDSB as a whole. 

ABSENTEEISM IN THE TDSB: This Research Today (2009) article examines key patterns in TDSB absenteeism, both elementary and secondary. 

ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT, AND WELL-BEING OF INTERNATIONAL/VISA STUDENTS IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD’S SECONDARY SCHOOLS: This multi-cohort tracking study examines the academic achievement, post-secondary destination, school engagement, and well-being of the 3,990 international/visa students in the TDSB’s secondary schools during the period of eight school years from 2005-06 to 2012-13, using data from provincial assessments, provincial report cards, credit accumulation, Ontario university and college applications, and the TDSB's unique Student Census 2006-07 and 2011-12. Click here for the  full report (2014).

CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS IN THE FRENCH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE PROGRAMS AT THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: This research brief (2015) outlines demographic and achievement characteristics for the students in the French Immersion (FI) and Extended French (EF) programs at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). 

EFFECTS OF RESTORATIVE PRACTICES ON SUSPENDED PUPILS’ SCHOOL ENGAGEMENT, ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT, AND POST-SECONDARY DESTINATIONS: Using student discipline and achievement data from a period of eleven school years, this large-scale student cohort tracking study (2018) investigates the effects of restorative practices on suspended students in Canada’s largest school board. After reviewing the positive trend of using restorative practices as an intervention strategy in the past school years, the study examines the demographics of suspended students, and then confirms the many benefits of restorative practices, such as reducing the possibility of students being re-suspended, and improving suspended students’ school attendance, Grade 9-12 credit accumulation, and graduation rate.

EXPULSION DECISION-MAKING PROCESS AND EXPELLED STUDENTS' TRANSITION EXPERIENCE IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: A caring, safe, respectful, orderly, and purposeful learning environment is essential to student learning. Ontario's Education Act prohibits specific behaviours in every school and, if no mitigating factors exist, requires mandatory suspensions or expulsions. To foster understanding among stakeholders and the public, this research report (2017) outlines the student discipline decision-making process and provides the student transition experience into and out of the Board's Caring and Safe School programs in the past five school years, particularly for expelled students. 


The most recent of twelve Grade 9 cohort studies looks at achievement of the TDSB Fall 2011-2016 cohort. The study follows students who were in Grade 9 as of 2011, for five years (until Fall 2016). Fact Sheet 1 looks at cohort trends over time: there was an increase of 16% in the graduation rate since the baseline of the first cohort of Fall 2000-2005 (an increase of 69% to 85%).

Students in this 2011-2016 cohort also wrote the second (2011) TDSB Student Census as Grade 9 students. Fact Sheets 2, 3 and 4 examine progress in the areas of the graduation and post-secondary pathways in comparison to the 2006-2011 Grade 9 cohort, who completed the first Student Census. Key variables such as self-identified race, language, sexual orientation, parental education, special education needs and many more have been included in the analysis.

Fact Sheet 1: Trend Data (2017)

Fact Sheet 2: Graduation Rate Patterns (2017)

Fact Sheet 3: Post-Secondary Pathways (2017)

Fact Sheet 4: Special Education Needs (2017)

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: A Case For Inclusive Education reviews current literature and evidence-based studies regarding inclusive education practices and outcomes, governing principles, as well as school, board and system-level strategies. Click here for the full report (2014). The newly released report entitled Inclusion - Creating School and Classroom Communities Where Everyone Belongs is a follow up to the 2014 TDSB report, A Case for Inclusive Education. While its predecessor looked at why an inclusive model of education is important, this new report closely explores what constitutes inclusion and provides relevant research and strategies into how educators and administrators can realize its potential. Click here for the full report (2015). This fact sheet (2017) looks at examples of recent TDSB research as background for upcoming changes to the Home School Program (HSP) and inclusive education practices.

INSPIRED TO EXCEL: HOW A PRE-KINDERGARTEN SUMMER LEARNING PROGRAM BENEFITTED THE YOUNGEST LEARNERS IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: The early years is a critical, formative period during which experiences and environments facilitate childhood development. For this reason the Board offered a free four-week pre-Kindergarten summer learning program to facilitate young children's transition into formal schooling within a responsive and culturally sensitive pedagogical framework. Mixed research methods were utilized to investigate the impacts on participating children, their parents/caregivers, and educators in this report (2017).

KEYBOARDING INSTRUCTION AT THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD PILOT STUDY 2016-17: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE: This report describes the results from the evaluation of the keyboarding pilot program in 2016-17. The purpose of the evaluation was to inform decisions regarding the integration of keyboarding instruction into the TDSB curriculum. The study involved a quasi-experimental, mixed methods research design, with before and after online surveys completed by students, administrators, and teachers as the primary data collection methods. This study indicates statistically significant improvements in students’ keyboarding knowledge and practices and accuracy from before to after the Keyboarding Pilot Program. Please refer to the full report for detailed findings and recommendations for policy and practice. Click here for the full report (2017).

Click here for the Visual Infographic of the Keyboarding Instruction Report (2017).

MIDDLE LEVEL GRADE SPAN CONFIGURATIONS: LITERATURE REVIEW:review of the literature (2006) examining the question "What is the best grade configuration for middle level education?". Issues discussed include the advantages and disadvantages of different models, student transitions, effects on student performance, quality programming, teacher training, and other factors influencing organizational decisions. 


INTEGRATED SERVICE DELIVERY IN THE TDSB'S MODEL SCHOOLS FOR INNER CITIES: THE CASE FOR SCHOOL-BASED VISION AND HEARING SCREENING: This report (2011) discusses the importance and the benefits of in-school vision and hearing screening and follow-up services for students in high needs communities. The findings are based on recent literature, a four-year pilot in over 100 Model Schools for Inner Cities, and an analysis of the multi-year tracking data collected from the pilot sites. 

MODEL SCHOOLS FOR INNER CITIES: A 10-YEAR OVERVIEW: This Research Today article (2018) highlights the work of the TDSB’s Model Schools for Inner Cites (MSIC) program in its last 10 years – including a brief description of its history, structure, essential components and philosophy. Some key research findings are presented to demonstrate the impacts the program has made on MSIC students, and six conditions for its success are also listed.

MODEL SCHOOLS PAEDIATRIC HEALTH INITIATIVE: IN-SCHOOL HEALTH CLINICS, PHASE IV: SUMMATIVE EVALUATION: This is a summative evaluation of the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) Model Schools Paediatric Health Initiative (MSPHI), which was launched in late 2010 with the opening of in-school health clinics at a number of inner-city schools. Building on the cumulative findings from the three previous and the current phases of evaluation, this study attempts to provide a comprehensive examination of the MSPHI as a cost-effective integrated service delivery model to address both the physical and mental health needs of vulnerable student populations with implications for their education success. Click here for the Phase IV Summative Evaluation (2015) and the Research Today (2016), for the Phase III Evaluation (2014), for the Phase II Report (2013), and for the Phase I Report (2012).

POST-SECONDARY PATHWAYS - 2000 TO 2014: This series of Research Briefs examines various aspects of post-secondary pathways by Toronto District School Board (TDSB) students. The scope of the student was 2000 to 2014: starting when the Fall 2000 cohort started Grade 9, and ending when the 2009 cohort finished five years of secondary school in Fall 2014. Research Brief 1 (2016) looks at post-secondary trends of the ten TDSB cohorts. Research Brief 2 (2016) looks at demographic and socio-economic characteristics, post-secondary institution, and post-secondary study of six of the cohorts (the 2004 to 2009 cohorts). Research Brief 3 (2016) and Research Brief 4 (2016) focuses on TDSB students as they progress through the Ontario community college system (Brief 4 compares college progress of students with and without Special Education Needs). Research Brief 5 (2016) looks at our Grade 9 cohort of Fall 2006 and follows them for eight full school years (to Fall 2014) for a complete picture of the direct transition to post-secondary.

REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS: RESEARCH ANALYSIS 2016-17: This report (2017) briefly examines the 2015-17 alternative school system in the Toronto District School Board. The report was taken from existing information available from Research and Information Services; an examination of consultation sessions held in Spring 2017; and a summary examination of academic research, on key themes raised by the consultation sessions. 

SECONDARY SUCCESS INDICATORS: These indicators have looked at patterns and trends in annual achievement since 2000.

There are four key components:

  1. Year 1 (Grade 9) Cohort, Annual Subject Completion: Click here for the most recent fact sheet (2017);
  2. Annual Credit Accumulation: Click here for the most recent fact sheet (2017);
  3. Year 4 (Grade 12) and Years 5-7 Student Outcomes: Click here for the most recent fact sheet (2017); and
  4. Post-secondary Pathways: Click here for the most recent fact sheet (2017).

Click here for the most recent full report (2006).

SHARED LEADERSHIP: This fact sheet covers the most current research, including definitions leading to TDSB definitions on Shared leadership. Readers can refer to the bibliography/references for further readings if required/interested.

SPECIAL EDUCATION/SPECIAL NEEDS: An examination of special needs data in the TDSB from the 2005-06 school year, which was set as a baseline for future research. Click here the executive summary, and the full report (2008).

Click here for the full report (2008) examining the next directions in looking at data on students with special needs in the TDSB.

Initially developed as an update to the Special Education/Special Needs Information in the TDSB, 2005-6 report, the 2010 report provides a detailed overview of how special education is structured within the TDSB. It also explores student demographic and achievement trends within special education programs and exceptionality categories. Click here for the full report (2010).

The Intersection of Disability, Achievement, and Equity: A System Review of Special Education in the TDSB report examines Special Education in the TDSB with focus on students attending the TDSB over 2011-12, as well as those in the Grade 9 cohort of 2006-2011. Topics included evolving models of Special Education; changing patterns in Special Education Needs over time; the relationship of Special Education Needs to demographic, socio-economic and geographic variables; the relationship to cumulative suspensions (over a student’s time in public school); the relationship to key achievement outcomes (e.g. the OSSLT, post-secondary access); and identified barriers to inclusive education. Click here for the full report (2013).

Click here for an examination overview (2015) of special needs data in the TDSB from the 2013-14 school year, including a comparison with EQAO Grade 6 Mathematics achievement from our baseline 2005-06 analysis.

The Special Education in the Toronto District School Board: Trends and Comparisons to Ontario report compares identification and placement information of students identified with special education needs between the TDSB and the province. Results indicate that the TDSB continues to have two to three times the proportion of students taught in congregated classes as compared to the province. Should the TDSB align their proportions of congregation with that of the rest of the province, the number of students in congregated classes would drop from close to 17,000 students to just over 5,000 students. Click here for the full report (2016).

STEM TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: TOWARDS A STRONG THEORETICAL FOUNDATION AND SCALING UP FROM INITIAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE K-12 STEM STRATEGY RESEARCH SERIES I: Using longitudinal research design this “use-inspired developmental evaluation” study examines the system-wide STEM implementation in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). At the end of the first year of implementation of the STEM Strategy, our research revealed important findings about administrator, teacher, coaches, and student attitudes towards STEM education, STEM teaching and learning practices, and STEM professional learning practices. This research study provides comprehensive empirical data to track outcomes for teachers, administrators, coaches and students’ learning and involved a longitudinal STEM strategy over three years to improve educational opportunities, decrease marginalization and improve school outcomes for all learners. This report also includes comprehensive literature on STEM pedagogy, trans-disciplinary STEM education, robotics and STEM education, characteristics of effective professional learning communities, and coaching. Click here for the full report (2016).

Click here for the STEM FACT SHEET I: Impact on Teachers (2017)

Click here for the STEM FACT SHEET II: Impact on Learning Coaches (2017)

Click here for the STEM FACT SHEET III: Impact on Administrators (2017)

STEM TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD RESEARCH SERIES II: Deepening, Sustaining, Building Coherence and Fostering Student Learning and Equity: The purpose of this study was to examine the implementation of the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) K-12 Strategy and track outcomes for administrators, teachers, and students involved in this strategy. As part of the second year of implementation data was collected through interviews with system leaders on STEM, school administrators, teachers, and STEM coaches as well as classroom visits to examine perceptions of STEM, planning and implementation for the STEM initiative, collaboration efforts, supports provided, successes, issues and challenges, impact, recommendations for scaling-up, and achievement results. Click here for the full report (2017).

STRUCTURED PATHWAYS: AN EXPLORATION OF PROGRAMS OF STUDY, SCHOOL-WIDE AND IN-SCHOOL PROGRAMS, AS WELL AS PROMOTION AND TRANSFERENCE ACROSS SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN THE TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: This report (2013) focuses on structured pathways at the secondary level and their relationship to demographic and socio-economic variables as well as achievement, post-secondary access and experiential outcomes of belonging. This report explores school structures at the secondary level (Grades 9-12) as well as the mechanisms of promotion and transference from Grade 8 to Grade 9. There are three key sections: Program of Study of students (Grade 9/10 and Grade 11/12 Program of Studies), selected in-school programs such as Gifted, International Baccalaureate, Elite Athlete and Special Education, and school-wide structures such as Alternative Schools, Arts Schools, and Special Education Schools.

There are three fact sheets based on the Structured Pathways report:

  1. Programs of Study: An Overview: This fact sheet (2013) looks at the Program of Study of students (Grade 9/10 and Grade 11/12) and their trajectories across secondary school.
  2. Selected In-School Programs: An Overview: This fact sheet (2013) looks at selected in-school programs such as Gifted, International Baccalaureate, Elite Athlete, and Special Education.
  3. School-Wide Structures: An Overview: This fact sheet (2013) looks at school-wide structures such as Alternative Schools, Arts Schools, and Special Education Schools.

THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO-TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD (U of T-TDSB) COHORT STUDY: AN INTRODUCTION: College readiness—the degree to which public school prepares students for success in post-secondary—has become a necessary measure of educational effectiveness. However, so far there has been limited research on college readiness in Ontario. This Fact Sheet (2019) introduces the University of Toronto-Toronto District School Board study, where 15,206 students in the five TDSB Grade 9 cohorts who entered U of T were followed from acceptance by U of T, to university graduation. The initial findings described here are part of a U of T-TDSB Research Report that will be first of a series. As well, other studies are currently in progress (e.g. a York U-TDSB cohort study).

Generally, the same socio-demographic, school and achievement patterns from earlier TDSB research are found in this initial study. Measures of prior academic achievement are the most powerful predictors. This Fact Sheet focuses on a composite variable of Grade 9 achievement in credit accumulation and marks in English, Science, Mathematics, and Geography. It shows a very strong relationship of Grade 9 achievement to access to post-secondary, and then to post-secondary graduation.