What is the purpose of school? On this site, you will find reviews of empirical research, literature on educational philosophycase law, state constitutions, and surveys of business/industry that relate to this question.

Dr. Damian Bebell of Boston College and Dr. Steven Stemler of Wesleyan University have developed a model for thinking about school purpose that they call the MIA Model.

MIA Diagram

In short, this model states that schools should be in charge of defining for themselves what they believe their core purpose to be. Next, the curricular and extracurricular offerings should align with the school mission. Finally, assessments of success should be congruent with the unique mission of the school.

Although schools serve a wide variety of purposes, decades of research has shown that the most commonly mentioned purposes of  K-12 schooling in the United States tend to focus on three core elements:

These are certainly not the only elements that schools mention as core purposes, but they are the most frequently cited. Within the “Competencies” tab of this website, you will find the following information for each of the competencies listed:

  • Example Mission Statements that focus on the competency
  • Keywords used to indicate the competency
  • Organizations that are focused on developing the competency in students
  • Psychometrically sound measures for assessing the competency

These resources may be especially useful for those tasked with  revising their school mission statement and those grappling with how to demonstrate, via assessment, whether the school is succeeding in achieving its educational mission.