The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora and Dr. Gillian Parekh, Canada Research Chair in Disability Studies & Education at York University have partnered to establish a Canadian Youth Research & Data Hub at York University.
Acting as a central repository of census data from school boards across the Greater Toronto Area – and possibly the province and beyond – the Hub will:
- Accumulate data from participating school boards thereby enabling reports on the education, social and cultural lives of students referencing their school participation, educational performance, academic achievement, and educational outcomes with attention to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, SES, grade levels, level academic programs, area of residence, and other demographic and social information.
- Connect youth, educators, educational administrators, academics, social agency workers, community members, and policymakers for whom research can help inform schooling activities, educational opportunities, work possibilities, and social welfare.
- Develop a unique profile of Ontario youth from their early schooling years through to postsecondary education and employment.
- Mobilize existing research knowledge about the role of schooling, social service, child welfare, justice, and other institutions in structuring the life experiences, conditions, attainments, and trajectories of young people.
- enhance the capability of school boards to extend their research capacity.
- Support and extend the equity work and programs of school boards.
- Inform and guide policy discussions, program development, and system improvement.
The Hub aims to bridge the gap between research and the lived experiences of young people, their parents, and communities.
The vision of the Hub is to be a central data resource that will report on the conditions which shape the experiences of children and youth; identify particular challenges and/or barriers to their educational and social success; make visible institutional and structural inequities across sectors, communities and regions; and most importantly, provide opportunities to develop effective and transformative interventions. With research data and knowledge translation, children, youth, families, educators, youth workers, and social service providers will benefit.
Helping to address an important gap in information:
For decades, researchers, policymakers and service-providers across Ontario have identified structural barriers and poor outcomes for marginalized and racialized youth (particularly Black, Indigenous, low income, and disabled students) as an intractable social issue. And while various initiatives have been put in place to address the identified issues, the situation remains. Various school boards have been collecting program and experiential data from students and their families, but the scope and access to such data is highly limited (or restricted). Currently, there is no central data and/or research hub that provides stakeholders a comprehensive representation of the lives of Ontario youth. Such an initiative is necessary – indeed pressing – if we are to effectively inform public policy and program development, particularly as they relate to the educational and social well-being of racialized and marginalized students. The proposed Hub will address this gap.
It is widely accepted that Canadian institutions need to do better in their collection of identity-based data in order to effectively identify and respond to the educational and social needs and concerns of students. And recently, there are growing efforts to collect identity-based data at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. As well, public school boards across the province – including Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board, York Region District School, Durham District School Board, and Ottawa-Carleton District School Board – have been engaged in data collection through their student censuses which makes the proposed Hub possible. The Hub will yield valuable information on youth’s educational performance and social experiences. It will also enable the creation of the first broad-based educational and social profile of youth in these areas, in far greater depth than that which is provided by Statistics Canada.
Recently, both York University and the University of Toronto collaborated with the Toronto District School Board to study the university trajectories of TDSB graduates. The results tell of their postsecondary access, participation, and graduation rates. With the capacity to connect school board data with York University’s institutional data, it is expected that the Hub will play a strategic role in advancing similar studies. The TDSB has signed on as a partner and Dr. David Cameron will assist in leading this project.