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Common Mission and Vision Strategy Guide - Archived

Introduction of Strategy

In this guide, we define a school's mission as its statement of purpose, including who it serves, what it seeks to accomplish, and the approach it will take. The school's vision articulates its goal(s) for the future. Research has shown that the following components support the establishment of a common mission and vision. It is important to note that while there is evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of each component (see research following each component), these components are most effective when implemented together. The following components are derived from various articles and research that articulate what an instructional vision should include:

  1. Collaboratively develop or revisit the school's mission and vision

  2. Ensure that all stakeholders understand how their work supports the mission and vision.

  3. Align the day-to-day work of all stakeholders with the school's mission and vision.

  4. Regularly review mission and vision with stakeholders.

Evidence Base

ESSA defines levels of research based on the quality of the study (Levels 1-4). CDE requires that schools and districts identify the research base for strategies that they select for their Unified Improvement Plans, and for applications for school improvement funds in the EASI application.

  • The research on common mission and vision that is cited here meets the definition of Level 3 research. The research cited focused on the impact on student achievement when all mission and vision components were implemented. In addition, substantial research meeting levels 1-4 have been completed that found that when implemented to a high level, a common mission and vision had an impact on student achievement.

Annie E. Casey Foundation. “Race, Equity and Inclusion Action Guide: Embracing Equity, 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race, Equity and Inclusion Within Your Organization.” 2014. Web.

Dove, Maria G., Honigsfeld, Andrea and Audrey Cohan. Beyond Core Expectations: A Schoolwide Framework for Serving the Not-So-Common Learner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2014. Print.

Fisher, Douglas, Nancy Frey and Ian Pumpian. How to Create a Culture of Achievement in Your School and Classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2012. Print.

Fullan, Michael. The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2014. Print.

Gabriel, John G. and Farmer, Paul C. How to Help Your School Thrive Without Breaking the Bank. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2009. Print.

Hunt, Vivian, Dennis Layton and Sara Prince. “Why Diversity Matters.” McKinsey & Company, 2015. Retrieved June 15, 2018 from Web.

Kern, Nora. “Intentionally Diverse Charter Schools: A Toolkit for Charter School Leaders.” Safal Partners, 2016. Web.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Research on Effective Practices for School Turnaround. Robbins, Pam and Alvey, Harvey. The New Principal's Fieldbook: Strategies for Success. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2004. Print.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Research on Effective Practices for School Turnaround: Turnaround Practices Digital Resource. 2016. Web.

Slate, John R., Jones, Craig, Wiesman, Alexander, Jeannie, and Tracy Saenz. “School Mission Statements and School Performance: A Mixed Research Investigation.” New Horizons in Education, Vol. 56, No. 2, 2008. Web.


Possible Root Causes include inadequate, inconsistent or ineffective...

  • Adult culture and beliefs
  • Lack of clear mission/vision
  • School culture
  • Student experiences

Is this strategy a good fit for your district/school?

  • Does this major improvement strategy focus on a priority performance challenge and associated root cause(s)?
  • Are the expected outcomes of this major improvement strategy highly valued?
  • Do key leaders support this major improvement strategy? Do key leaders have the capacity to lead the strategy ongoing?
  • What are the skills and competencies needed to implement this major improvement strategy with fidelity? What support/professional development do staff members need to implement this strategy effectively?
  • Are the time, effort and resources needed for implementation feasible for the staff involved?

Considerations for Strategy Implementation

  • What is the history of the school's mission and vision and has staff been involved in this work previously?
  • Is there a wide range of stakeholders that are available to give input in the development of a shared mission and vision?
  • Is there multiple sources of school data (assessment, behavior, attendance, social-emotional, etc.) available to assist in giving stakeholders a holistic view of the organization?

Implementation Guide

Action Steps


Convey purpose

When schools have effectively articulated a mission and vision and are able to focus more purposefully on their shared goals and values, they may be able to better meet shared culture and academic goals. Including key stakeholders in the development of the vision is critical to ensuring that the education provider community is committed to the goals and values of the school.

Ensure Mission and Vision Equity

Ensure that the mission and vision reflect a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The mission and vision should make the community feel welcome and inspired about what is possible at the school for the range of students it serves.

Plan to revisit

Create a plan to revisit the mission statement at the beginning and end of every year. The purpose is to determine whether the mission and vision is still relevant and to determine whether any major changes have occurred to the education provider that might warrant a re-alignment to goals and priorities.

Action Steps


Identify stakeholders

Identify a group of key stakeholders that represent different groups. These stakeholders should represent both internal and external facing support to include school leaders, teachers, students, staff, parents, and community members whom are involved with the school.

Convey stakeholder importance

Ensure that all stakeholders understand how their work supports the mission and vision. Effective leadership is characterized, in part, by the ability to inspire stakeholders to feel a sense of ownership for the mission and vision. All members of the school community must understand how they contribute to achieving the mission and vision.

Align stakeholder efforts

Align the efforts of all stakeholders with the school's mission and vision. Research demonstrates that schools that coordinate their efforts behind a mission and vision that are shared by members of the school community are able to make significant gains in student achievement.

Ensure stakeholder investment

Regularly review mission and vision with stakeholders. To ensure that stakeholders remain invested in the mission and vision – and that new members of the school community are engaged and committed to the school's mission and vision – dedicate time regularly to discussing, defining and, if needed, revising the mission and vision. Effective schools regularly monitor and reflect on progress toward their goals and, as needed, make adjustments to their approach.