Frequently Asked Questions about District Vision Statements

We have something we call a “mission statement." Is a mission statement the same as a vision statement?

Depending on the source, the words vision and mission may be used differently, so it's difficult to answer that question definitively. Generally, a mission statement can be described as a statement that defines what the job of the organization is—its unique purpose and function.

A mission statement usually tells not only why the school district exists, but what it intends to accomplish and whom it serves. When the mission statement includes a summary of the desired results, it also can provide a glimpse of the district’s vision.

Example:  The District shall provide an exceptional education for all students in a safe, caring environment that develops citizens who are responsible, ethical, literate, competent, and productive.

If our mission statement includes a statement about what we want to accomplish, do we need another separate statement of our vision?

That is a decision the district must make. If your mission statement contains enough detail to express the community’s ideal for the district and its students, you may be satisfied that one statement expresses both your mission and your vision.

Example: It shall be the mission of the District to educate all of its students to the fullest capacity possible of each student.  This shall include the opportunity to develop, within a comprehensive curriculum, the ability to think logically, independently, and creatively, and to communicate effectively.  Quality at all levels, equity in all endeavors, and accountability for all responsibilities shall be the characteristics of this District.  The District, therefore, shall use every reasonable resource to provide a living education for culturally diverse students in order that, upon graduation, those students are qualified to meet the developments and uncertainties of the future.

How much detail should a vision statement include?

A vision statement should include enough detail to provide a clear picture of the ideal to everyone who will be working together to try to accomplish it. A simple or short vision statement can be supplemented; however, it should include additional documents to further define broad statements of the ideal. For example, a district vision statement that says we want our graduates to be “citizens who are responsible, ethical, literate, competent, and productive” might develop a Graduate Profile that further defines what skills and behaviors one would see “responsible, ethical, literate” citizens demonstrating.

Who should develop the vision statement?

A vision statement may be drafted by staff, the board, a team that includes both, or an even larger group that includes community representatives. The important thing to remember is that for a vision to be effective in driving improvement, it must reflect shared ideals of the entities working to accomplish it. So, if the vision is drafted by the board, it should be done with input from staff, community members, and students, or at least shared with them for feedback before the board adopts a final version. And similarly, if the vision is drafted by staff for board approval, the board must have an opportunity to gather and provide input and make revisions to ensure it reflects the expectations of the community and needs of students.

Is there a deadline for adopting a vision statement?

There is no statement in the law about a deadline for establishing a vision statement; however, TASB encourages districts who have not yet adopted a vision statement to set aside time during the school year to develop one.

Who should I contact if I have a question about district vision statements that is not answered here?

Please e-mail Leadership Team Services at lts@tasb.org or call 800.580.8272, extension 2452 for assistance.