York U education report recommends race-related data collection, transparency


TORONTO, Wednesday, August 23, 2017 – Student demographic data collected by the Ontario Ministry of Education should be leveraged to enhance student success through equity measures, a new report out of York University suggests. The report, commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Education and co-authored by Professor Carl James, recommends that race-related data be collected and used to identify and address equity barriers.

The study, “Unlocking Student Potential Through Data," is the outcome of a joint project that explores new ways to support “Achieving Excellence,” Ontario’s vision for publicly funded education.

 “The Ministry of Education has always been committed to evidence-based informed decisions. Unlocking Student Potential Through Data is another study that will help inform our path forward,” said Bruce Rodrigues, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education.

“The Faculty of Education is pleased to have collaborated with the Ministry of Education in this important work. The Faculty has a long-standing commitment to social justice and the final report contributes to this and to the enhancement of public education in Ontario for all students,” said Lyndon Martin, Dean, Faculty of Education at York University.

Together, the Ministry of Education, Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate; the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and the Toronto District School Board worked with York’s Faculty of Education to produce the report.

The report indicates that the Ministry could better utilize the existing web-based Ontario School Information System (OnSIS) and other sources, and additionally makes 47 recommendations which could be implemented with the collection of additional data and analyses, to allow for more informed decision-making.

According to the report, the Ministry and school boards can create more relevant processes and programs to ensure children arrive at school ready to learn; have access to teaching and learning opportunities in elementary and secondary school that are inclusive and prorevide them with strong skills in literacy, numeracy, and science; and increase the quality and accessibility of postsecondary education and adult learning and skills development.

Professor James in the Faculty of Education, the York collaborator of this report, said that gathering more of the relevant demographic and perceptual data from various sources of both students and educators will be important to analyze and address equity issues in the education system. “For example, issues like student streaming and systemic racism can be addressed more efficiently, and new programs for professional development and pre-service training for teachers and education staff can be created based on analyzing such data,” he said, adding that the data must be separated and analyzed as individual racial groups, to identify and address issues unique to each group.

The report cites several other key concerns facing the education system, such as social inequality; gaps in addressing educational programming for students with special education needs; providing inclusive space for Indigenous students; relationships across the sector; school climate; and student discipline.

“We hope this report will serve as a tool to guide the Ministry’s data directions to create and implement initiatives that enable greater collaboration between ministries, the public sector, and school boards. This will ensure improved success for all Ontario students, from early years to postsecondary,” said Donna Quan, lead author of the study and Senior Advisor, Student and Educator Data, Ministry of Education.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

 Media contact:
Gloria Suhasini, Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22094, suhasini@yorku.ca