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Mission Driven Educational Leadership--Does It Matter? Examining The Correlations Between District Mission and Student Achievement

The purpose of this study was to look at mission driven school district leadership in Massachusetts public schools and attempt to identify any relationship, or lack thereof, between district mission statements and student achievement. In this study, 288 Massachusetts public school districts are ranked according to their 2011 high school graduation rate and their 2011 tenth grade Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) results. From the 288 districts, a sample of the top thirty and the bottom thirty were selected. All district wide mission statements were obtained from the websites of the top 30 and bottom 30 school districts with a 100% return rate. The mission statements were then coded using Bebell and Stemler's 2011 coding rubric. Bebell and Stemler's coding rubric contains 11 themes with 42 subcategories. The 11 themes are: academic/cognitive, social development, emotional development, civic development, physical development, vocational preparation, integrate into local community, integrate into global community, integrate into spiritual community, safe nurturing environment, and challenging environment. The 42 subcategories are indicators composed of key words and phrases for each of the eleven themes in Bebell and Stemler's 2011 coding rubric. Results from the present study found the academic/cognitive theme occurred more than any other theme in both the top and bottom public school districts in Massachusetts. Statistical differences did appear for two of Bebell and Stemler's themes: civic development and vocational preparation. The civic development theme was correlated with the top 30 school districts, while the vocational theme was correlated with the bottom 30 school districts. Subcategories of the civic theme include productive, responsible, contributing members of society involved in public service and character education, while vocational subcategories include competition in the workforce and marketable skills. This study is limited in size and scope and more research is suggested. This study is unique because it is the first time that mission driven leadership in Massachusetts school districts is being analyzed to see if there is a connection with student achievement. The present study would be of interest to policy makers and practitioners who are interested in mission driven leadership and student achievement.
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