Center on Policy Solutions

Where We’ve Worked

National Conference of State Legislatures

NCEE has partnered with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for over six years to provide advice and insights on the design of high-performing education systems to state legislators around the country.

From 2014-2018, we organized the work of a study group of state legislators from across the country investigating top-performing education systems around the world. Over two years, NCEE supported the study group in their work to understand the successful practices of the world’s top-performers in order to develop a new, state-driven education agenda. The end result of that initial work was the landmark report, No Time to Lose: How to Build a World-Class Education System State by State. The report provides state policy makers with the tools and strategies to begin the work of building a high-performing education system in their own state. No Time to Lose, currently in its fifth printing, has become the most widely-read report NCSL has ever released, and NCEE and NCSL continue to speak widely at state legislatures about the findings.

Because of the widespread interest in No Time to Lose among legislators, NCEE, NCSL and SREB are convening a second cohort of the study group to study the common components underpinning the design of high-performing education systems.

MD Research Meeting


NCEE served as the lead policy consultant for the Maryland Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (popularly known as the “Kirwan Commission,” after its Chair, Brit Kirwan), to assess the adequacy of their current funding formula, help design a new funding formula, and make recommendations for how to restructure Maryland’s education system to ensure that the new funding is spent effectively, efficiently and with equity and that Maryland performs as well as the best education systems in the world. NCEE did a “gap analysis,” comparing the Maryland system to high-performing education systems internationally and domestically and made recommendations about how to improve the Maryland system, which were incorporated into the Commission’s report.

In 2019, Maryland’s legislature awarded an initial $850 million as a down payment to start this work in the first two years, and in 2020 the Maryland legislature passed “The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future”, which is a ten-year plan to implement the Kirwan Commission’s recommendations. NCEE continues to advise on the implementation of the plan, including providing strategic advice, drafting policy and legislation, providing communications support, conducting a study of college and career readiness standards, and potentially, helping provide executive development support to education leaders in the state.


Kentucky Rising was a joint effort of the Kentucky Department of Education, the Council on Postsecondary Education, and the Education Professional Standards Board, in partnership with entities from economic development, workforce development, the Chamber of Commerce, and a host of businesses and industries, to leverage systemic education reform to improve Kentucky’s workforce, increase its global competitiveness, and improve its economy. The heads of the three Kentucky education agencies engaged NCEE to begin planning for Kentucky Rising. Through the collaborative efforts of the three agencies, the work of Kentucky Rising began with an analysis based on the design of high-performing education systems to assess where Kentucky systems stand compared to the top-performing international and national jurisdictions.

Since this engagement, more than 40 districts engaged with NCEE on its advanced credentialing system funded by a U.S. Department of Education SEED grant and nearly 50 superintendents are currently enrolled in NCEE’s Superintendents Academy, an ongoing partnership with the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.