Why Change is Needed Now

District leadership teams can drive the organizational and operational change needed to make U.S. students competitive in a global economy.

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What is at Stake?

Students today are no longer just competing for jobs with students from the next town over. They’re competing for the jobs of the future with students around the world. Top-performing systems are outperforming U.S. districts in student learning and equity and they are yielding these results at a lower cost. Our students and our future economy will bear the consequences if we do not rapidly improve student achievement today.

The U.S. led the world in education between the middle of the nineteenth century and the 1970s. In the intervening years, U.S. student achievement has increased, but only incrementally. At the same time, systems in countries as varied as Vietnam, Canada and Denmark have redesigned their education systems, and are yielding results that caught up and then far surpassed that of the U.S.

For many state and local education systems in the United States, nothing short of rethinking their entire education system will produce the required levels of high achievement for all students. For over 30 years, NISL’s parent organization, the not-for-profit National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), has worked to identify the highest achieving education jurisdictions in the world and has determined the common elements across countries and continents that make these systems not only produce higher achieving students, but to do so efficiently and equitably. It is clear from this research that simply adding programs or implementing accountability measures will not be enough to catch up and surpass the best. Districts must redesign their systems so that their students may compete in today’s changing global economy. District leaders will be essential drivers of the organizational and operational changes that U.S. school must pursue.

To face this challenge, NISL has developed a set of district supports that provide superintendents and district leadership teams with the knowledge, skills, tools and support necessary to redesign their district.

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