Frequently Asked Questions

Explore FAQs

Executive Development Program
Leadership Series


Q Who should sign up for the programs?
NISL’s programs are designed to be delivered to cohorts of leaders across a district or a state. Most often the target audience includes principals or aspiring leaders, but may also include teacher-leaders, other members of school leadership teams or district staff. District and state leaders contract with NISL and then assign groups of participants to receive training. Individual school leaders interested in participating in NISL should contact their district to explore opportunities for NISL to support their district.

Q Is NISL based on leadership standards?
A Yes. NISL draws on the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) standards; standards of the major associations of principals and administrators; and the performance standards for major themes within the Institutes and Executive Development Program. NISL also can align programs with state leadership standards and evaluations. Please contact us to request more information.

Q What materials and methods do you use to train leaders?
A NISL programs incorporate both online and face-to-face instruction and are job-embedded and cohort-based. NISL uses best practices in adult learning, including case studies, computer-simulations, video presentations and facilitated group discussion with other school leaders. The materials and methods were carefully selected and developed based on research of the best leadership training practices from educators in other countries and from the fields of medicine, law, business and the military.

Q Who are the trainers? How are they selected and trained?
A NISL employs two methods to train participants—either direct training or a train-the-trainer model. With direct training, certified NISL faculty members train participants directly. Under the train-the trainer model, NISL faculty members train local leaders (selected by the district or state), who become certified to provide training using NISL’s world-class curriculum.

NISL faculty members are carefully selected to match the needs of the district or state. All faculty members are successful, highly experienced educators who have been principals or superintendents. Also, some NISL units are co-facilitated by successful leaders from the military, business or government.

Q Is there any research that demonstrates the effectiveness of the program(s)?
A Yes. Johns Hopkins and Old Dominion universities have studied our statewide implementations in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and have found that students in schools led by NISL-trained principals outperform their peers at matched schools in both math and English language arts as demonstrated on state tests. Contact us to request reports.

Q Have you worked in districts like mine?
A Yes. NISL has worked in districts large and small, urban and rural across the country. In fact, more school leaders have graduated from our Executive Development Program than any other proven education leadership development program. See where NISL has been implemented.

Q Is NISL a not-for-profit?
NISL is a division of Criterion Education, LLC, which is a subsidiary of the not-for-profit National Center on Education and Economy (NCEE).  As LLCs take the form of their parent from a business perspective, Criterion Education, and NISL in turn, are considered not-for-profit entities.

Executive Development Program

Q How comprehensive is the Executive Development Program?
A NISL’s Executive Development Program is the most comprehensive professional development training currently available for principals. The program builds leadership skills found in many top business and military programs, provides a strong foundation in the best practices of standards-based education, while also giving participants the ability to identify and coach towards strong instruction in the content areas. See a complete list of the topics covered and sample course materials.

Q What is the purpose of this program?
A NISL believes that effective and creative leadership will result in greatly improved practice by principals and higher achievement for all students. The Executive Development Program addresses a comprehensive set of leadership skills, issues and challenges intended to dramatically improve instruction in the classroom and the practice of school leadership. The objective is to help make good schools great and to turn around low-performing schools.

Q What is the time commitment leaders need to make to participate?
A The total commitment is about 24 days of training and takes place over 12 to 18 months, with an additional 30 hours of online learning. Most face-to-face training takes place in 12 two-day units, delivered approximately monthly. NISL works with districts to maximize efficient delivery, scheduling around testing periods, leveraging summer training schedules, even starting later in the day or scheduling weekend sessions if requested.

Q Can NISL programs be used as credits for graduate school degrees?
A Yes. NISL partners with several colleges and universities so that participants can receive graduate school credit. For example, Nova Southeastern University waives approximately one-third of the credit towards a doctorate for participants in the Executive Development Program.

Q Will NISL training support career advancement?
A Yes. NISL programs help current school leaders become more effective in that role—and they are an excellent credential for aspiring school leaders to move into leadership positions. Some states and districts, in fact, require aspiring leaders to complete NISL training to move into leadership positions. Partner universities also waive credits towards doctorates and advanced certifications. NISL training has been instrumental to many school leaders in advancing to district or state leadership positions.

Leadership Series

Q What is the purpose of the Institutes? What issues do you cover?
A The Institutes are designed to give principals the tools they need to address key leadership issues faced by most principals. Learn more about available institutes.

Q What is the time commitment?
A NISL’s Institutes consist of 2 to 4.5 days of class time, usually on consecutive days. Prior to the Institute, participants must complete several assignments— such as a school assessment, student interviews, readings, or interactive computer-based activities—lasting a total of 2 to 4 hours.