Center on System Leadership

Leading Transformation: The NISL Program

Overview  |  Vision  |  Pedagogy  |  Curriculum  |  Delivery  |  Coaching  |  University Partners  |  Foundation Support

NCEE’s NISL program is the leading provider of school leadership development supports in the country. NISL provides schools, districts and state departments of education leaders with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to design and lead high-performing systems. By preparing leaders to serve as strategic thinkers, instructional leaders and creators of a just, fair and caring culture, NCEE strives to create education systems that provide students equitable opportunities for learning and meet the highest standards.

NISL is the product of $20 million of R&D studying leadership and adult pedagogy within the best-known business and corporate universities, education programs and military leadership schools, as well as more than three decades of research by NCEE into identifying the top-performing education systems in the world and translating the common elements of those systems to the American context.


NISL 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 design their schools as systems, 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.


NISL’s flexible delivery options are priced and designed to allow for districts to go beyond targeting a handful of schools, and instead create improved leadership and learning across large segments of schools or entire districts. For smaller districts, NISL faculty can deliver the program directly to school leaders. Larger districts can develop this same capacity in-house, through the NISL train-the-trainer model. NISL is the only school leadership program that has been shown by third-party researchers to positively impact student achievement through a train-the-trainer model.

Doctoral Credit and Certification

NCEE works with our partners to ensure that NISL participants not only maximize the program’s impact in their school, but also in their careers. States and districts have granted Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and administration certifications for those that complete NISL. NCEE has also partnered with national and local universities so that NISL graduates receive credit towards doctorate programs and other advanced degrees.


NISL coaching is available at two levels. An entire unit of NISL focuses on equipping participating school leaders with a research-based coaching model that allows them to go beyond evaluating teachers to actually improving their practice. At a district level, NCEE can work with principal supervisors and others who support principals so that they can apply the same model and better understand how to leverage the NISL diagnostics, leadership framework and applied learning opportunities to focus their coaching to maximize its impact on practice.

Questions? Next Steps?

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Supports for EDP Graduates

NISL Applied Plus

NISL Applied PlusExplore the concepts from the NISL program in greater depth with an emphasis on application. Learn more…

Teaching for Effective Learning

NISL Applied PlusExtend NISL’s approach to learning to the classroom through the direct development of teachers. Learn more…

Supports for Districts

High-Performance DistrictsDrive organizational and operational change at the superintendent level or in district leadership teams. Learn more…

Supports for Partners

Partner SupportsNCEE offers a suite of complimentary supports for past and current participants of our professional learning programs. Learn more…