Making Change
in School Systems

The MDI provides valuable insights about students and their experiences both inside and outside of the school system. MDI data can identify both barriers and facilitators to student well-being, while also offering unique opportunities to engage school staff and students in exploring their MDI data, and move from data to planning through to school or system-wide action. Learn more about the ways in which MDI data contribute to creating change across school systems.

Think Big, Start Small

When getting started with MDI data, it may be overwhelming to consider the many opportunities for change. Where will your focus be? How will you make change? Who else needs to be involved? One way to focus your energy is to think big, but start small by considering some of the results for which you may have influence. 

Guidelines for Understanding and Using MDI Data

Listen to Greg Smyth, Superintendent of Pacific Rim School District (BC), discuss how the school district started moving slowly with their MDI data, and after years of work and momentum building, MDI data is now incorporated in many district initiatives.
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Digging into MDI Data with Stakeholders

Hear from Gail Markin, a school counsellor and SEL consultant from Langley, BC, who has been using the MDI to champion the importance of children’s voices and to engage them in important conversations about their well-being and experiences.
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Understand Students' Perspectives About Their Lives Inside and Outside of School

MDI data provides a window into the lives and perspectives of children, while giving them a voice and upholding their rights. There are a number of ways MDI data can be used to engage children in helping to shape change in their schools and communities. MDI data can help provide an important starting point for further inquiry work with children to gain a deeper understanding of their ideas, feelings, and perceptions. Discover some ideas on how to work with kids and data

“I think the greatest value is that the MDI legitimizes student voice… This student voice then helps adults to avoid “fixing” problems, but rather, examine the possibilities for students at school, at home and in the community.”
School success begins with safety, belonging and connectedness

Do children think there are adults at school who care about them? Every adult in the school, from classroom educators to school administrators and support staff, contribute to the climate and feeling of belonging at school. The Connectedness Dimension of the MDI provides information on children’s perceptions of supportive adults in school as well as the number of important adults that children report they have at their school. The School Experiences Dimension provides information on School Climate, School Belonging, and Bullying and Victimization from the perspectives of children.

MDI Data Helping School District Improve Connectedness

To learn more, listen to Greg Smyth, Superintendent of Pacific Rim School District (BC), discuss how MDI data has supported the district to focus on increasing the number of children who identify important adults at school.
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Inform and Monitor School System Plans

MDI data provide a rich source of information on the well-being of children and the assets present in their lives. By examining MDI data, school and district teams can identify both areas of strength and of challenge—information which can inform the development of school or system-wide goals and plans. For school districts that collect the MDI data at regular intervals (for example, every year, or every two years), MDI data can be used to monitor progress towards these goals as part of a continuous quality improvement process. The MDI has been integrated into District Plans for Enhancing Student Learning, School Growth Plans and to support district-level long-term, strategic planning. Explore the following examples from BC school districts, below:

Connect to the Curriculum

The MDI provides data on a broad range of topics such as Social and Emotional Development, Physical Health and Well-Being, Connectedness to Peers and Adults, and School Experiences, a number of which may align with your local curricular competencies and standards. For example, in British Columbia, the MDI aligns with many aspects of the Personal and Social Core Competency, and additional Core Competencies.

MDI Data Helping to Promote Social Emotional Learning

Hear from Marna MacMillan, Safe Schools Coordinator in Coquitlam, BC, to learn how MDI has been an important part of the efforts to promote SEL across the system.
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Assess School System Efforts to Promote Social and Emotional Learning

The MDI captures children’s perspectives on their social and emotional development. In fact, the MDI aligns with the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning’s framework for social and emotional learning (SEL) – namely, self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills.

Promoting Mental Health in Schools

Current research on the impacts of the pandemic on school-aged children are signaling an urgent and ongoing need to address the additional pressures on children’s mental health and well-being. The MDI can help. It provides insight from children themselves about their social, emotional, and physical health and well-being, and the assets in their lives that will be invaluable as they navigate the challenges and complexity of this time. Importantly, MDI aligns with the BC Ministry of Education’s Mental Health in Schools Strategy. This strategy outlines a three-pillared approach to moving forward with a system-wide, mental health promotion in schools. The strategy includes a focus on building capacity in social and emotional learning, mental health literacy and trauma-informed practice across the school system, areas complemented by the MDI.

Mental Health in Schools Strategy

The Mental Health in Schools Strategy builds on the work already underway in our schools, and it reaffirms our commitment to giving every student the tools to flourish in school, and for the rest of their life.
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MDI Data Helping School District Improve Connectedness

Hear from Peter Dubinsky, Assistant Superintendent in Arrow Lakes, BC, who discusses how the district uses MDI data as part of annual transition planning.
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Support Transition Planning

Transitions can be challenging for children and staff, alike. Whether it is the transition from elementary school to middle school, middle school to high school, or elementary school to high school, MDI school-level reports from feeder schools can provide insight about the strengths of incoming cohorts of students to inform transition plans. In addition, where MDI data are collected again once students are settled into their new schools, these data can be used to reflect on changes that occurred over the transition and help identify potential areas where support is needed.

Interested in how you can make change through collaborative action in communities?

Making Change Workshops

To support you in exploring the data and developing solutions with staff and partners, our team has designed a two-part, step-by-step workshop. You can follow as is, or adapt as needed.