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Connectivity and Learning in Canada’s Schools

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Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division

Note to readers

By H. Ertl and J. Plante

This study is based on 2003/04 data from the Information and Communications Technologies in Schools Survey (ICTSS). The ICTSS was designed as a census of kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) schools in Canada, to provide a comprehensive measure of connectivity and ICT infrastructure, and to identify ICT access patterns. Sponsored by Industry Canada’s SchoolNet program, which works with Canadian learning partners – provincial and territorial governments, education associations, school boards, schools, teachers and students – and conducted by Statistics Canada, the survey aims to measure access to and integration of ICT into the learning environment. Support to the survey initiative has also been provided by Library and Archives Canada.

The survey targeted all Canadian schools at the elementary and secondary levels (15,500 schools), including public, private and federal institutions, as well as schools for the visual and hearing impaired. In 2003/04, there were approximately 10,100 elementary schools, 3,400 secondary schools, and 2,000 mixed schools (i.e. schools offering a combination of elementary and secondary grade levels) in Canada. Continuing education/adult day schools, trade/vocational schools, language and cultural education schools, home schools, community education centres and social service centres were excluded, as were new schools that opened in 2003.

The analysis presented here is based on data collected from nearly 6,700 schools. For more information about the survey methodology, including weighting and non-response adjustments, readers should consult Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 81-595-MIE, no. 17, pages 31-33 (Statistics Canada 2004a). The survey was conducted from October 2003 to January 2004 and refers to the 2003/04 school year. The survey respondent was the school principal. For the purpose of this study, data for First Nations schools and distance learning schools were excluded.

School characteristics

The school instructional level is classified as elementary if the school offers grade 6 and under or a majority of elementary grades and secondary if the school offers grade 7 and over or a majority of secondary grades. For the purpose of this analysis, schools offering a combination of elementary and secondary grades are referred to as mixed.

The size of the school is based on the number of students enrolled, by instructional level, as shown in the distribution below.

School size Elementary school Secondary school Mixed school
Small less than 200 students less than 300 students less than 60 students
Medium 200 < students 350 < 300 < students 700 < 60 < students 200 <
Large more than 350 students more than 700 students more than 200 students

The location of the school is defined as either rural or urban. Rural schools are located in rural areas and small towns (RST) or within the rural fringes of a larger centre (census metropolitan areas (CMAs) or census agglomerations (CAs)). Urban schools are located in a CMA or CA, but not in the rural fringe (Statistics Canada 2003).

A school is classified as either public or private, according to whether a public agency or a private entity has the ultimate decision-making power regarding school affairs. For example, a private school is controlled and managed by a non-governmental organisation (e.g., a church, a trade union or a business enterprise) or is governed by a board consisting mostly of members not selected by a public agency.

It is important to note that many of the school characteristics used for independent analysis may also be related to each other. For example, enrolment size may be related to school location (urban schools are typically larger than rural schools), and school administration (public schools are typically larger than private schools). These relationships should be considered in the interpretation of the data.

Heidi Ertl is with the Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division. Johanne Plante is with the Centre for Education Statistics.