Demographic Data and Student Equity

This collaborative university/school board project promotes public discussions of the collection and use of demographic data in order to address equity issues in the schooling performance and academic achievement of students.

Project Category:
Strengthening research brokering work
Topic Area:
Equity and Inclusion
Ministry Priority
(2011-2013):
Equity
Project Lead(s):
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Ranu Basu
Brief Background:
This collaborative university/school board project promotes public discussions of the collection and use of demographic data in order to address equity issues in the schooling performance and academic achievement of students. It also acts as a catalyst to mobilize research that will influence policy and programs.
Research Context:
While in some cases, evidence-based reports describe particular groups of students who are at risk of low academic achievement (Brown, 2009; TDSB, 2008; 2010), in others, there is a reliance on anecdotal evidence. Demographic data can help to verify, monitor, measure, and address gaps, opportunities, trends, progress, and perceptions (Ontario Human Rights Commission, 2010). This project builds upon existing research on the collection and use of demographic data, and serves as a catalyst for public discussion on related challenges and issues.
Knowledge Mobilization Activities:

Two discussion forums held in October 2011, and March 2012 brought together stakeholders for dialogue and sharing around the collection and use of demographic data. Additional forums for further dialogue are planned.
A draft discussion paper was compiled from insights gathered from participants and presenters at the two discussion forums and conference presentations, and has been shared for feedback and review. This paper draws on existing research and evidence-based practices surrounding the collection, analysis, and reporting of student demographic data, and is currently serving as a springboard to: (1) launch discussion forms ; and (2) create online mediums for knowledge mobilization.


The online media includes the creation of a website http://knaer.wordpress.com/ which is linked to the York Centre for Education and Community(YCEC). This online component informs the continuous development of the discussion paper .

Outcomes:
As discussed in Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, demographic data can be taken into consideration when planning for student achievement – because the collection and use of student data can make powerful contributions to educational equity. However, experience has shown that there is hesitancy and apprehension around the use of demographic data, particularly as it pertains to the academic achievement of particular groups of students. This project helps to identify how school boards, governments, and community groups can use such data for effective educational decision-making that better supports vulnerable student groups, thereby leading to system impact and enhanced societal cohesion.