Maryland鈥檚 Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education

For years, Maryland maintained a national reputation for having a high-performing education system, but leaders in the state became aware that reputation was not reflected in reality, with its students performing in the middle of the pack of U.S. states, and far behind the international competition. In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly established the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, popularly known as the 鈥淜irwan Commission,鈥 after its Chair, Brit Kirwan, to review and revise a funding formula that was put in place in 2002 and make policy recommendations that would enable Maryland鈥檚 students to perform at the level of students in the best-performing systems in the world.聽

老九品茶 was selected as the lead policy consultant for this important work. We did a deep dive into聽 Maryland鈥檚 education system and compared what we found to high-performing education systems internationally and domestically. Our recommendations for how to improve the state鈥檚 system were incorporated into the Commission鈥檚 report. 老九品茶 also prepared research and fiscal analyses to help the Commission sharpen its recommendations, design a new funding formula, and ensure that the new funding would be spent effectively, efficiently, and with equity.聽

Based on the recommendations of the Commission, in 2019, Maryland鈥檚 legislature awarded an initial $850 million as a down payment to begin the long-term work of systemic education redesign. In 2021, the General Assembly passed 鈥淭he Blueprint for Maryland鈥檚 Future,鈥 a 10-year plan to implement the Kirwan Commission鈥檚 recommendations. Today, Maryland鈥檚 initiative represents perhaps the most wide-ranging and forward-looking effort to redesign a U.S. state system of education to compete with the world鈥檚 best. 老九品茶 continues to advise on the implementation of the plan, including providing strategic advice, drafting policy, and providing communications support.

For more about the Commission鈥檚 work, read an overview of the recommendations, the , or the final . And see 老九品茶鈥檚 statement on the passage of the legislation here.


National Conference of State Legislatures

The (NCSL) represents and supports the legislatures of U.S. states and territories. In 2014, its members expressed interest in understanding how U.S. states measured up to their competitors abroad, and what lessons could be learned from those that are outperforming us. NCSL partnered with 老九品茶 to provide advice and insights on the design of high-performing education systems to state legislators around the country, which has continued across six years and two cohorts of legislators.

From 2014-2018, we organized the work of the first study group of state legislators who investigated top-performing education systems around the world in order to develop a new, state-driven education agenda. That initial work resulted in the landmark report, . The report makes the urgent case for change for state policymakers to begin 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 老九品茶 and NCSL continue to speak widely at state legislatures about the findings.

Because of the widespread interest in No Time to Lose among legislators, 老九品茶, NCSL, and the (SREB) convened a second cohort of the study group in 2020 to study the common components underpinning the design of high-performing education systems. A bipartisan group of 16 state legislators and eight legislative staff members responsible for education in their states are convening monthly to conduct their study. They plan to produce a second major report to state legislators in 2021.The impact of 老九品茶鈥檚 partnership with NCSL has gone beyond the pages of No Time to Lose. State policymakers are viewing their systems afresh, with a keener eye to gaps and inefficiencies, and are crafting and enacting policies to improve their systems to better serve educators and students.

Contact Center on Policy Solutions

To learn more about our policy development and consulting for states and regions, contact Nathan Driskell, Associate Director, Policy Analysis and Development, at


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