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NCE Mission, Vision, and Approach


The National College of Education's mission is excellence in teaching, scholarship, service and professional development. Recognizing the importance of life-long learning in a diverse, rapidly changing global society, NCE is committed to developing and empowering all learners.


NCE Vision

NCE will be a college distinguished for its demonstration of academic excellence and innovative professional programming provided to a diverse audience of adult learners. We will ensure that our students consistently have an excellent academic experience. NCE will contribute to knowledge generation that helps create more equitable and effective schools and healthier communities.  Our future will be built on a solid foundation of financial sustainability. 


NCE Approach 2019 

Read the full 2019 NCE Foundational Elements and Aspirations paper here.

Our vision starts with the premise that every child deserves a great teacher. We believe that all aspects of NCE, whether in teacher preparation, research, or leadership, is focused on the students in classrooms that our graduates serve, whether directly or indirectly. In this respect, we care about “the students of our students,” the young people in education systems across Chicagoland and beyond, where NCE’s graduates work. 


NCE’s work in education is responsive to needs in the field to contribute to strengthening schools, teachers, and ultimately student outcomes. High quality teaching matters for all students, but especially so for underserved students. Gaps in student achievement and college attainment by race and income similarly demonstrate that there is still work to be done. And the context around teacher preparation is increasingly complex, with teacher shortages, high stakes accountability, and emergent understandings in the field of how best to prepare teachers, serve students and improve schools. With a deep understanding of the context, teaching and learning, and excellence in teaching honed across more than 130 years of experience in preparing teachers, NCE’s distinctive approach leads the field.  


At NCE, our goal is to improve schools and student outcomes with our work. This requires a deep understanding of the context around teachers, teaching and learning and the design and implementation of a set of programs that are immediately responsive to the needs of students, teachers and schools.

We know from research that teaching matters. There is evidence that teachers have a direct influence on student outcomes, defining the path that young people take to and through school, careers and life. The quality of teaching and learning is especially influential on the outcomes of underserved young people, low income students of color. While scholars have demonstrated that underserved youth benefit most from high quality teachers, research demonstrates that these same students are least likely to have high quality teachers consistently.

The most powerful evidence that there is still work to be done in the education space are the gaps that exist between the outcomes of middle-class Caucasian students and low-income students of color. This includes the opportunity gap, which leads to consistent differences between students of color and their White counterparts on standardized tests, in high school graduation rates, college enrollment, the proportion of students enrolling in Advanced Placement coursework and assessments, and college attainment.

NCE’s work across programs aims to prepare teachers and leaders in all stages of their career to teach, reach and nurture students of diverse backgrounds. Course content and experiences are aimed directly at acknowledging the gaps in achievement and attainment and directly equipping teachers and leaders to close them.


NCE sits in an education context that is evolving and changing. Since the mid-1990s, the field of education has increasingly focused on evaluation and measurement. This has resulted in numerous changes in the field that influence the work of being a teacher. Standardized tests have increasingly been used as the measure of quality, at the state, district, school, teacher, principal, and student levels. The increased accountability was critical for schools, as for many years there were limited measures of school quality, and students were not well-served as a result. At the same time, the overreliance on standardized tests has had consequences for the field and school contexts for teachers and students.

Expanded measurement is evident and comes in many forms. Evidence-based teacher evaluation approaches have emerged on the field, which has created opportunities for teachers to improve their practice. At the same time, expanded teacher evaluation practices has changed the nature of the work of the teacher, which influences the way teachers think about practice.

The field’s increasing sophistication in measurement has also extended to the assessment and technology domains. Teachers must be prepared to individualize instruction using a variety of formative assessment information and to draw upon technology to differentiate learning to meet student needs.

NCE’s work is both to prepare teachers and leaders to understand, interpret and be successful in this new context, which has promises and potential pitfalls.


There have also been substantial changes in the forces around teacher preparation and placement. In recent years, there has been a substantial decrease in applicants to teacher preparation. Some estimate as high as a 30% decrease in applicants to all forms of teacher preparation, across traditional and alternate teacher preparation programs. This has led to shortages of teachers, where there are more positions than there are teacher applicants. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that teacher shortage is not distributed evenly across the field. Teacher shortages are concentrated in schools, classrooms and subject areas that are more difficult to staff, which disproportionately affects underserved students. The shortage calls for both creative ways to think about how to prepare more teacher as well as ways to ensure that the most disadvantaged students do not suffer the consequences of teacher shortage disproportionately.

NCE aims to contribute to eliminating teacher shortage through our relentless efforts to train teachers and leaders at significant scale and to partner with high needs schools and school districts in our work across programs.


At the same time, there have been curricular and instructional advances in the field of education in the past twenty years. These have come as a result of emergent understandings of how students learn, how we measure and diagnose student learning needs, how to better organize classrooms to differentiate to meet individual student needs, and ways to draw upon and enhance other non-academic skills, such as socio emotional and noncognitive factors. Teacher preparation approaches have started to evolve to prepare teachers to be successful given these advances in teaching and learning.

NCE’s programs draw upon and lead the advances in the field of education and teaching and learning. We bring the very best and advanced pedagogical approaches to our work.


This is the context in the education space today, and we are responsive to it. We have created a set of programs that train and support teachers across their entire career path. At the same time, our diverse programs are grounded in a set of foundational elements which both represent our values and beliefs about what teachers and leaders need to be successful as well as what the field demands to produce practitioners who have the skills they need to persist and lead.


We know that excellence in teaching matters, especially for underserved students. We also see that opportunity gaps are still evident, further evidence that there is still work to be done to improving schooling and teaching and learning in schools. At the same time, there are shifting contextual factors; around data and measurement, teacher shortages as well in terms of what we know about strong practices in instruction and assessment. Colleges and schools of education must embrace new practices and approaches to prepare teachers, researchers, school leaders, and teacher leaders who are poised to be successful in and contribute in this evolving space.

At the National College of Education at National Louis University we stand ready to continue to be a leader in education, as we have since 1886. At NCE we train talented professionals in a high-quality set of offerings called Prepare. Advance. Lead. We Prepare talented, mission driven individuals to be teachers through numerous possible pathways. We provide enhanced, specialized training to enable teachers to Advance in their careers. We offer leadership programs to allow teachers and school leaders to deepen their capacity to Lead.  We see each of our programs as having a broader mission to Influence the field of education. As such, at NCE we Prepare, Advance, Lead and Influence.


NCE’s diverse offerings in Prepare, Advance, Lead span teacher preparation, advanced study and leadership; as well as practice and research. NCE aims to contribute to the field by providing high quality training options to educators and education leaders at all stages in their careers.

The programs within Prepare, Advance, Lead share a set of foundational elements. These elements represent a shared orientation toward excellence in education, that it is: 1) Clinically-focused; 2) Technology-enhanced; 3) Context-specific, Learner-focused; and 4) Evidence-informed. In the section that follows, we describe each of the four elements and elaborate on the elements, applying them to NCE’s programmatic areas in Prepare. Advance. Lead.

  • A Clinically-Focused approach centers all aspects of teacher preparation, enhanced training, leadership training, and research in practice. In teacher preparation, being practice-centered and clinically-based is evident in the use of the adaptive cycles of teaching model that leverages technology to allow aspiring teachers to analyze the impact of their instruction on students, robust observations of student teachers in clinical settings, and strategic alignment of clinical experiences to academic ones. In the enhanced training and leadership training represented in Advance and Lead, student experiences are rooted in case study and school-based work to increase the usefulness and applicability of the educational experiences. Research in NCE’s centers focuses on creating knowledge to improve practice.

In short, at NCE we intentionally center all of our work on practice all domains of education, from classroom, school, and districts. Integrating practice into our training results in teachers who are better prepared to succeed, lead and persist; practitioners who have the hands-on skills to use their specialized skills from advanced training to better serve students; and leaders who have direct experiences to bring to their leadership.

  • Technology-Enhanced approach improves teaching, learning, and research by to improving learning and teacher outcomes and training teachers to use technology in their own practice for the future. Technology enables teacher preparation models to monitor student learning more consistently, to focus on development of competence in high leverage practices and to scale to address teacher shortage. NCE sees technology as providing an opportunity to lead in improving outcomes because we now have tools that were not at our disposal in the past.  NCE’s goal and aspiration is to innovate with these tools to improve teacher and leader training with the ultimate goal to improve student and school outcomes. In addition, harnessing the power of online coaching for aspiring teachers and technology-based training for teacher mentors allows us to intensively work with students enrolled in NCE programs while reaching the scale of training needed to serve district and school needs. We similarly draw on technology in our research and work within our centers.

In summary, at NCE we see technology as a tool that can enhance coursework and training to embed clinical experiences into online coursework and to mentor and train aspiring teachers and their mentors intensively, at-scale. This is grounded in preparing teachers and leaders to use the most innovative and useful technologies to assess and support student learning and improve student outcomes, but goes far beyond this to innovative practices that lead the field such as the use of technology-based coaching to increase mentoring touchpoints.

  • Context-Specific/Learner-Focused approach assumes that education occurs in a community and school context. As such, our work is K-12 learner centered as well as our particular students being served. Context and focus at NCE is grounded in our community partnerships, which span numerous organizations for a variety of purposes. Some of these organizations are partners in placing our aspiring teachers in clinical placements; some of our partners provide supports to our students as they make their way through their programs at NLU; others are our partners in serving the broader teacher and student populations in the communities our teachers serve. Context is a focus of teacher preparation, as we vary our approach to prepare teachers to serve students in different settings.

In essence, we see a context-specific and student-focused approach as a cornerstone to excellence in teaching, leadership, and research.  A context-specific approach leads to teachers and leaders who are culturally competent and poised for success in the schools in which they work. A student-focused approach equips teachers and leaders to individualize and differentiate their practice and to be successful in closing the achievement gap.

  • An Evidence-Informed approach advances knowledge and best practices around teacher preparation that leads to strong student learning and outcomes. In important respects, it builds upon the other elements of being clinically-focused, context-specific and technology-enhanced. These elements are rooted in evidence about what matters most for creating excellence in education and schooling.

In effect, we aim to advance the field by creating and disseminating knowledge about how to train teachers and leaders to succeed, persist and excel in the field of education.



    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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