Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

An Analysis of High School Mission Statements in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2019
Damian Bebell, Ph.D; Steven E. Stemler, Ph.D; Daniel Heimler, B.S.

Through a study of school mission statements, this paper offers a unique examination and perspective on the shifting priorities of school. A random sample of 50 Massachusetts public high school mission statements was collected in 2001 and again in 2019. Analyzing the school mission statements using a pre-established coding rubric, 95% of schools had thematically changed their mission during this 18-year span. On average, the number of themes represented in mission statements increased from 5.1 to 6.2 per school. While emotional (91%), cognitive (86%), and civic (67%) development remained the most frequently occurring themes across mission statements, a significant increase in the frequency of career preparation (19% in 2001 to 38% in 2019) and challenging environment (38% in 2001 to 62% in 2019) was observed in 2019. Considerations of how local, state, and national reform efforts and policies may relate to trends in school purpose and mission statements themes are discussed.

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