National Center on Education and the Economy

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The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) is an American not-for-profit, policy analysis and development organization based in Washington, DC. It was formed by its former president, Marc Tucker, with the stated mission: “To analyze the implications of changes in the international economy for American education, formulate an agenda for American education based on that analysis and seek wherever possible to accomplish that agenda through policy change and development of the resources educators would need to carry it out.” [1]

NCEE has three programs: The Center on International Education Benchmarking, The National Institute for School Leadership and a consulting service for states and large school districts.

Center on International Education Benchmarking[edit]

NCEE's Center on International Education Benchmarking (CIEB) funds and conducts research around the world on the most successful education systems to identify the strategies those countries have used to produce their superior performance. Through its books, reports, website, monthly newsletter, and a weekly update of education news around the world, CIEB provides up-to-date information and analysis on those countries whose students regularly top the PISA league tables. CIEB's global research is conducted in consultation with some of the foremost global education researchers and leaders and CIEB's international benchmarking reports have been used by policymakers across the political spectrum. Over the years, CIEB has benchmarked the education systems of Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, India, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Since its inception, CIEB has undertaken, funded and published groundbreaking research from some of the world's foremost education researchers and leaders including:

  • An international comparative study of teaching quality in top-performing systems lead by Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University;
  • An international comparative study of early childhood education by Sharon Lynn Kagan of Columbia University's Teachers College;
  • International studies on school leadership, effective professional development and developing subject matter expertise in elementary school teachers by noted Australian researcher Ben Jensen;
  • A report on Shanghai's vaunted teacher development system by system architect, former Shanghai Normal University President and former Shanghai Education Commission Deputy Director Minxuan Zhang;
  • A comparative study of vocational education and training systems in Singapore, China and Switzerland; and
  • An international comparative study of instructional systems by Tina Isaacs of the Institute of Education at the University of London.[2]

National Institute for School Leadership[edit]

The National Institute for School Leadership (NISL) partners with state and district education leaders around the United States to deliver training for school and education system leaders intended to help them implement the world's most successful education practices. NISL offers a uniquely comprehensive curriculum using the latest research on adult learning. It is perhaps the only rigorously researched, proven leadership program that districts can deliver themselves, allowing for a wider and deeper impact. NISL is the culmination of an $11 million R&D investment, five years of research and field-testing, and ongoing updates that leverage leading researchers and practitioners from education and other fields.[3]

Executive Development Program[edit]

NISL's Executive Development Program emphasizes the role of principals as strategic thinkers, instructional leaders and creators of a just, fair and caring culture in which all students meet high standards. It ensures that school leaders have the knowledge, skills, and tools to effectively set direction for teachers, support their staff in improving instructional practices, and design a high-performing school organization that is rooted in professional learning. The program combines best practices in teaching and learning, subject-area content knowledge, and leadership knowledge and practices using an approach with proven results in preparing top-flight instructional leaders. NISL's Executive Development Program (EDP) is now the most widely used, rigorous school leadership development program in the country with more than 12,000 school leaders trained across 27 states. Multiple research studies have shown that students in schools led by NISL-trained leaders outperformed their peers on state tests in both math and reading.[4]

U.S. Department of Education Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) Grant[edit]

NISL is implementing a national advanced credentialing system that aims to revolutionize the principalship in America. The project's goal is more than to simply identify and credential high-performing principals but also to create large numbers of them. The initiative is being piloted in partnership with state departments of education in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Mississippi under a three-year, $10.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through its highly competitive Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant program. NISL is building the advanced credentialing system based on two major research findings. First, numerous studies have pointed to the importance of a strong principal in accelerating student learning, particularly in low-performing schools. Second, based in large part on international benchmarking research conducted by its parent organization, the National Center on Education and the Economy, several of the highest-performing education systems in the world use a similar strategy to leverage school principal leadership development as a foundation of their improvement approach. NISL's advanced credentialing system will give principals a transparent, codified and respected leadership development system that supports and rewards them as they progress through their careers—as it does in the world's top-performing education systems. The advanced credentialing system will empower principals, building their capacity as instructional leaders to improve teacher effectiveness and increase student achievement—across whole schools and whole districts.[5]

U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant[edit]

In 2015, NISL was awarded a $12 million U.S. Department of Education Validation-level Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to study a large-scale implementation of its Executive Development Program (EDP). The study encompasses delivery across three states—California, Florida and Mississippi. The Validation-level i3 grants are highly competitive awards “aimed at validating and spreading promising programs on a state or regional scale.” NISL's proposal was selected on the basis of the initiative's significance—including its ability to address “a challenge for which there is a national need for solutions that are better than the solutions currently available”— its ability to scale, the quality of the project design and management plan, and the quality of the project evaluation. The i3 grant to NISL, with backing from the Wallace Foundation, now supports principals in 88 districts that serve nearly 1.7 million students, many from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Training began in September 2015 and will provide rigorous and comprehensive leadership support to 750 principals throughout the duration of the grant. In doing so, the NISL initiative will directly impact the learning of 375,000 students, roughly equaling the total students to be served by all other 2014 i3 grants combined. District-designated staff in all three states will be trained and certified to deliver the NISL program to future cohorts, ensuring sustainability and scalability beyond the life of the grant. In addition to the wide-scale impact of the support provided by the grant, the initiative will also produce a “gold standard” study of NISL's EDP and coaching. This study, conducted by a team of external evaluators from the RAND Corporation, will use a rigorous randomized control trial design. The researchers will assess the impact of the three-state effort on principals, teachers and students. The external evaluators have calculated that 93,334 students have been impacted during the first year of the grant period.[6]

Policy Solutions for Public Schools: Consulting for States and Districts[edit]

NCEE's consulting services provide the research, analysis and strategic planning support states and districts need to design education systems for high performance, equity and efficiency. NCEE's consulting services bring to bear the lessons learned from three decades of benchmarking top-performing systems around the world and enlist the expertise of top researchers, analysts, policymakers, and practitioners from the U.S. and abroad. The process involves comparing the state or district to the top nations, states, and provinces in the world on each of the 9 Building Blocks, so that state and district leaders can see where they are doing well and where they have a distance to go. It involves pulling together a group of state leaders to actually go and visit two or three of the leading countries, talk to many people there at all levels of the system, and see for themselves what can happen if a concerted effort is made and sustained over a long enough period of time to make a difference, and then helping that group help others understand what they have observed and work with a broad group of stakeholders to come up with a long-range plan to build a comprehensive system of the kind that they have seen. To assist in this consulting service, NCEE enlists top researchers, analysts, policymakers, and practitioners all over the world who are prepared to help NCEE help states and districts that are interested in building world-class systems of education.[7]


In 1989, NCEE created the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE), which was aimed at promoting student performance in large urban districts and progressive states through standards-based education reform. That same year, NCEE created the bi-partisan Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce and a year later the organization produced the report America’s Choice: high skills or low wages! [8]

In 1992 NCEE, in conjunction with 23 states and 6 cities, created the New Standards Project. The goal of New Standards was to develop standards for the core subjects in the curriculum and applied learning standards coupled with new assessment instruments designed to measure those standards using new, complex performance tasks that more closely resemble real world problems, thereby providing a rich context in which students could demonstrate their knowledge and skills [9]

Six years later, in 1998 NCEE created the America's Choice School Design Program based on the work of NARE and New Standards.[10] The program provides research-based school instructional intervention solutions and programs for states, districts, and schools. In 2010, Pearson acquired America's Choice from NCEE, with the vision of bringing the America's Choice model to a worldwide market. [11]

In 1999, NCEE launched the National Institute for School Leadership, a program designed to train principals for high performing schools. The Institute has since served more than 3,800 principals in 14 states, and was adopted as the primary statewide professional development program in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.NISL now offers other professional development programs focused on specific issues such as early childhood, English Language Learners, excellence in science and students with disabilities.

In 2006, NCEE released Tough Choices or Tough Times closely examining the strategies that had been used by one nation after another to surpass the achievement of American Students offering, for the first time, a comprehensive education reform agenda based on NCEE's education benchmarking work over almost 20 years.

In 2011, NCEE launched the Excellence for All program, a network of 21 high schools committed to piloting these proposals in the United States. These schools became the focus of a multi-year research program to examine what happened when certain fundamental changes in the structure of American high schools intended to greatly reduce dropouts, increase the proportion of high school students ready to succeed in college and reduce or even eliminate the need for college students to take remedial courses before they can qualify to take credit-bearing college courses were implemented. The results of that research have been a very important contributor to the design of NCEE's greatly expanded design for its signature leadership training program, the National Institute for School Leadership.

In November, 2011 NCEE established the Center on International Education Benchmarking. The Center expanded NCEE's continuing program of comparative research on effective education systems and developed a comprehensive web portal designed to enable people all over the world to more easily access information, analysis and opinion about the strategies used by the countries with the world's most successful education systems.

In 2014, the Center on International Education Benchmarking partnered with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to support a bipartisan study group of state legislators from across the country investigating top-performing education jurisdictions around the world. CIEB supported the study group as it worked over two years to understand what has led to high student performance in those countries, provinces and states. And CIEB helped the study group members think about how what they learn could be adapted to improve the quality and effectiveness of education in US states for all young people. This work resulted in the groundbreaking report No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "NCEE | Center on International Education Benchmarking". Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  3. ^ "Research Base". NISL. 2013-03-06. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  4. ^ "Our Approach". NISL. 2013-03-08. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  5. ^ "NISL's Advanced Credentialing System for Principals". NISL. 2016-06-09. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  6. ^ "Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant". NISL. 2016-09-28. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  7. ^ "NCEE | Policy Solutions". Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^’s%20Choice%20History
  11. ^

Dillon, Sam. "High Schools to Offer Plan to Graduate 2 Years Early". The New York Times. 2010-18-2

External links[edit]

[1] Official NCEE website
[2] America’s Choice History
[3] National Council of Teachers of Mathematics ( As of February 2016, the preceding web page [URL] is a[dead link], but "see also" some archived copies thereof, such as those available via the Wayback machine, e.g. )
[4] America’s Choice Press Release
[5] NISL