Joseph P. McDonald

Professor of Teaching and Learning

Joseph P. McDonald

Phone: 212 998 5447

Curriculum Vitae/Syllabi

Joe McDonald is Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, where he teaches in the English Education program, chairs the cross-school teacher education faculty committee, and is a faculty affiliate of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools (Metro Center).   He is the author or co-author of nine books about teaching and schooling.  The latest is American School Reform: What Works, What Fails, and Why (University of Chicago Press, 2014).  It examines twenty years of school reform in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and the Bay Area.  Others include Going Online with Protocols: New Tools for Teaching and Learning (Teachers College Press, 2012), Going to Scale with New School Designs: Reinventing High School (Teachers College Press, 2009), and The Power of Protocols (Teachers College Press, third edition, 2013).   

McDonald's current research (funded by the Spencer Foundation under the auspices of the Research Alliance for New York City) is a study of teachers' use of data in eight New York schools. His collaborators are Susan Neuman, James Kemple, and Adrianna Villavicencio.  With Pedro Noguera, he leads an effort funded by the Wilner-Bloomgarden Family Foundation and the NYU McSilver Institute to design a partnership aimed at using the learning capital of the university to address the impact of poverty on education in New York and elsewhere.  And with David Kirkland and Anna Smith (with funding from the Teagle Foundation), he leads an effort to understand the challenges and achievements of a group of South Bronx high school students as they prepare for college reading and writing.  

McDonald is the co-founder of the NYU Partnership Schools program, a collaboration in teacher education among NYU and 23 schools located mostly in poverty-impacted neighborhoods of Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn.  In one of his partnership activities, McDonald directs the PILAT project - an experiment in residency-based English Education at East Side Community High School and New Design High School on the Lower East Side, and in another, he sits on the board of the Great Oaks Charter School, also on the Lower East Side.  Finally, McDonald is the Director of the Metro Learning Communities program at NYU's Metro Center, which provides leadership development courses and coaching for educators.

For many years, McDonald was a high school English teacher as well as a high school principal.  He has been co-editor of the Series on School Reform at Teachers College Press since 1994 - a series that has produced 66 books to date.  He holds a Doctorate in Education and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Harvard University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Scranton.  Before coming to NYU, he taught at Brown University where he led the teacher education program in English and served as the first Director of Research at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, as well as Senior Researcher for the Coalition of Essential Schools.  McDonald has been at NYU/Steinhardt since 1998, and has served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and also as Associate Dean for Community and Global Initiatives.


  • Ralph W. Tyler Lecturer, Lesley University, 2012 (See lecture in presentations)
  • Member of the NY State Academy of Teaching and Learning
  • Spencer Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship
  • Outstanding Teacher Award, Bush Educational Leaders Program
  • Community Service Award, New York University
  • Finis and Engleman Award, American Association of School Administrators
  • Community Service Award, University Neighborhood High School

Degrees Held

  • Ed.D. Harvard University
    Administration, Planning, and Social Policy
  • M.A.T. Harvard University
    English Education
  • B.A. University of Scranton

Research Interests

  • School reform
  • Teacher education
  • Educational policy
  • Study of teaching

Selected Presentations

  • Working Together for Student Success: How Schools and Universities Can Bridge their Culture Gap
    Presentation at the Winter Symposium, New Teacher Center, San Jose, CA, February 3, 2009(view)
  • Autonomy and Accountability in New York City School Reform
    Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA, April 2009 (view)
  • School-University Partnerships: Power of Complementarity
    Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA, April 2009(view)
  • Leading while reforming: The ethical obligation to destroy, construct, connect
    2012 Ralph W. Tyler Lecture at Lesley University, July 25, 2012(view)


  • The National Writing Project: Scaling up and down.  With J. Buchanan and R. Sterling, in S. Bodilly and T. Glennan (Eds.), Scaling Up Reform Interventions: (Rand, 2004)
  • High school in the twenty-first century: Managing the core dilemma, in F. Hammack (Ed.), Is There a Future for the Comprehensive High School?  (Teachers College Press, 2004)
  • World’s fair: Sixty years of American education in and around a former dump, in W. Holtkamp (Ed.), Rediscovering America: New Approaches to American Culture (Metzler Verlag Stuttgart, 2001)
  • Students’ work and teachers’ learning, in A. Lieberman and L. Miller (Eds.), Caught in the Act: Professional Development for Teachers (Teachers College Press, 2001)
  • Below the surface of school reform: Vision and its foes, in R. Glaser and L. Schauble (Eds.), The Contributions of Instructional Innovation to Understanding Learning (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996)

Selected Publications

  • American School Reform: What Works, What Fails, and Why (University of Chicago Press, 2014) (link)
  • Going Online with Protocols: New Tools for Teaching and Learning (Teachers College Press, 2012). With Janet Mannheimer Zydney, Alan Dichter, and Beth McDonald. (link)
  • Going to Scale with New School Designs: Reinventing High School (Teachers College Press, 2009). With E. J. Klein & M. Riordan. (link)
  • Power of Protocols (Teachers College Press, 2003, 2007, 2013). With N. Mohr, A. Dichter & E. McDonald. (link)
  • School Reform Behind the Scenes (Teachers College Press, 1999). With T. Hatch, E. Kirby, N. Ames, N. Haynes & E, Joiner. (link)
  • Doing What You Mean to Do in School Reform (Annenberg Institute for School Reform, 1998). With D. A. Schon.
  • Redesigning School: Lessons for the 21st Century (Jossey-Bass, 1996) (link)
  • Graduation by Exhibition: Assessing Genuine Achievement (ASCD, 1993). With S. Smith, M. Finney, D. Turner & E. Barton. (link)
  • Teaching: Making Sense of an Uncertain Craft (Teachers College Press, 1992). (link)

Selected Articles

  • In and Of the City: Theory of Action in the NYU Partnership School Program. With Myrrh Domingo, Jill Jeffery, Rosa Pietanza & Frank Pignatosi. Peabody Journal of Education, Fall 2013.
  • Capacity for school reform: The role of teacher networking. With Emily Klein, Teachers College Record, Fall 2003.
  • Teachers studying student work: Why and how? Phi Delta Kappan, October 2002.
  • Redesigning curriculum: New conceptions and tools. Peabody Journal of Education, winter 1999.
  • When outsiders try to change schools from the inside. Phi Delta Kappan, November 1989.
  • Teaching the documentary arts: Combining writing with research and photography. English Journal, November 1985.