3 Guiding Principles

As educators and policy makers strive for all students to reach their academic promise, they must ask: How can students meet high academic standards if they don't believe in their ability to do so? How can they learn if they aren't academically engaged? How can they set and reach academic goals if they don't see the purpose in doing so?

If students are to enjoy academic, social, and personal success, they must believe in themselves, be actively engaged in their learning, and see the connection between what they learn today and who they want to become tomorrow. When these experiences are absent, aspirations flounder and achievement declines.

The 3 Guiding Principles provide educators with a practical model that can be used to guide the development of educational experiences, from the individual classroom to the entire school building. If school curriculum, activities, and lessons support each of the Guiding Principles, students will be more likely to achieve academic, personal, and social success.

The 3 Guiding Principles are:


Self-Worth flourishes when students know they are valued members of the school community, have people in their lives they can trust and learn from, and believe they have the ability to achieve academically, personally, and socially.


Engagement takes root when students are deeply involved in the learning process by showing enthusiasm and desire to learn new things, and willingness to take positive, healthy steps toward the future.


Purpose in school is fostered when students take responsibility for who and what they want to become, both by looking forward to professional careers as well as acting in the present as confident, responsible members of their communities.

Schools put these Guiding Principles into action using the next part of the Aspirations Framework: The 8 Conditions That Make a Difference™.