Morgaen Donaldson

Associate Dean for Research, Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair, Professor, and Director

Educational Leadership


Associate Dean for Research

Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair


Director, Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation

Academic Degrees:

Ed.D., Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Ed.M., Teaching and Curriculum, Harvard Graduate School of Education
A.B., History and American Studies, Princeton University

Areas of Expertise:

Educational Leadership

Educator Development

Educator Evaluation

Educational Policy

Education Reform


Morgaen L. Donaldson is a Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut and Director of the University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis, Research, and Evaluation (CEPARE). She is also a Research Affiliate of the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers at Harvard University and a co-director of the Connecticut COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative (CCERC), an innovative partnership between the State Department of Education and researchers from Connecticut’s colleges and universities. Dr. Donaldson began her career as a high school teacher in urban and semi-urban schools and was a founding faculty member of the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s public high school for the arts. She also served as a Project Director in a Gates Foundation-funded effort to replicate the best practices of small schools successfully serving low-income and minority populations. As a researcher, Dr. Donaldson conducts quantitative and qualitative studies on educator quality, educator evaluation, teacher retention, school leadership, and teachers’ unions with a particular focus on urban and rural schools. She is currently conducting studies principal development and evaluation in 23 school districts in Connecticut, Michigan, and Tennessee and teacher development and evaluation across a range of school settings. Dr. Donaldson’s comprehensive examination of teacher evaluation, Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Teacher Evaluation, was published by Routledge in early 2021.

Funded Research:

  • Connecticut COVID-19 Education Research Collaborative (CCERC), Connecticut State Department of Education, 2021-
  • District Policies Related to Principal Evaluation, Learning-Centered Leadership, and Student Achievement, Institute of Education Sciences, 2016-2021
  • Professional Educator Program, New Haven Public Schools, 2013-2018
  • SEED Educator Evaluation Pilot Program Study, Connecticut General Assembly, 2012-14
  • Teacher Evaluation Reform in New Haven Public Schools, Spencer Foundation, 2011-14
  • Distribution of Teacher Quality and Instructional Resources Among Connecticut School Districts, CCJEF, 2010-12
  • School Organization and Science Achievement Project, National Science Foundation, 2010-15

Selected Publications:

Jones*, B., & Donaldson, M. L. (2022). Pre-service science teachers’ sociopolitical consciousness: Analyzing descriptions of culturally relevant science teaching and students. Science Education.

Landa*, J. & Donaldson, M.L. (2022). Teacher Leadership Roles and Teacher Collaboration: Evidence from Green Public Schools Pay-for-Performance System. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 21(2), 303-328.

Donaldson, M.L. (2021). Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Teacher Evaluation. Routledge Press.

Donaldson, M.L, Mavrogordato, M. Dougherty, S. & Youngs, P. (2021). “Doing the ‘real’ work”: How superintendents’ sensemaking shapes principal evaluation policies and practices. AERA Open, 7(1).

Donaldson, M.L., Mavrogordato, M., Dougherty, S. Al Ghanem, R. & Youngs, P. (2021). Principal evaluation under The Elementary and Secondary Every Student Succeeds Act: A comprehensive policy review. Education Finance and Policy. 16(2), 347–361

Donaldson, M.L. & Firestone, W. (2021). Rethinking teacher evaluation using human, social, and material capital. Journal of Educational Change. 

LeChasseur, K., Donaldson, M.L. & Landa*, J. (2019). Role Negotiation and Compromise: The Micropolitics of Expanding Principal Roles. Educational Management, Administration and Leadership.

Firestone, W. & Donaldson, M.L. (2019). Teacher Evaluation as High Stakes Data Use: What Recent Research Suggests. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability. 

Donaldson, M.L. & Woulfin, S. (2018). Going “Rogue”: How Principals Use Agency When Enacting New Teacher Evaluation Systems. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 40(4), 531–556.

Donaldson, M. & Mavrogordato, M. (2018). School Leaders and Teacher Evaluation: The Cognitive, Relational, and Organizational Dimensions of Working with Low-Performing Teachers. Journal of Educational Administration. 56(6), 586-601.

Mayer, A. M., LeChasseur, K., & Donaldson, M. L. (2018). The structuring of tracking: Instructional practice of teachers leading low and high track classes. American Journal of Education, 124 (4), 445-477.

Fernández, E., LeChasseur, K., & Donaldson, M.L. (2017). Responses to including parents in teacher evaluation policy: A critical policy analysis. Journal of Education Policy, 1-16.

Donaldson, M. L., LeChasseur, K., & Mayer, A. M. (2017). Tracking instructional quality across secondary mathematics and English language arts classes. Journal of Educational Change, 18(2).

Weiner, J., Donaldson, M.L. & Dougherty, S. (2017). Missing the boat: Impact of just missing identification as a high performing school. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 16(1), 80-105.

Steinberg, M. & Donaldson, M.L. (2016). The new educational accountability: Understanding the landscape of teacher evaluation in the post-NCLB era. Education Finance and Policy, 11(6).

Donaldson, M., Woulfin, S., LeChasseur, K. & Cobb, C. (2016). Teachers’ learning in the context of teacher evaluation. Equity and Excellence in Education, 49 (2), 183-201.

Woulfin, S., Donaldson, M.L. & Gonzales, R. (2015). School district leaders’ framing of educator evaluation policy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 52, 110-143.

Donaldson, M.L. & Papay, J. (2014). Teacher evaluation for accountability and development. In (Eds.) H.F. Ladd and M. Goertz, Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy.

Green, P.C., Donaldson, M.L., & Oluwole, J.O. (2014). An Analysis of the Policy, Research, and Legal Issues Surrounding the Exclusion of Charter Schools from the Teacher Evaluation Revolution. Journal of Law and Education.

Donaldson, M.L. (2013) Principals’ approaches to cultivating teacher effectiveness: Constraints and opportunities in hiring, assigning, evaluating, and developing teachers. Educational Administration Quarterly, 49(5), 838-882.

Irizarry, J.G. & Donaldson, M.L. (2012). “Teach for América: The Latinization of U.S. Schools and the Critical Shortage of Latino/a Teachers.” American Educational Research Journal, 49(1), 155–194.

Donaldson, M.L. & Donaldson, G.A. (2012). “Strengthening Teacher Evaluation: What District Leaders Can Do.” Educational Leadership, 69(8), 78-82.

*doctoral student


Philip E. Austin Endowed Chair of Public Policy, 2021-

AERA Division A Early Career Scholar Award, 2015

AERA Division L Outstanding Policy Report, 2015

William J. Davis Award, best article in Educational Administration Quarterly (with Mayer, LeChasseur, Cobb, and Welton), 2014

Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education Post-doctoral Fellowship, 2013

National Academy of Education/MET Early Career Fellowship, 2013

University Council for Educational Administration: Culbertson Outstanding Junior Scholar Award, 2013

Outstanding Article: “No More Valentines: Making Teacher Evaluation Matter” Best of Educational Leadership, 2009-10


American Educational Research Association

Association for Education Finance and Policy

University Council for Educational Administration

In the News:

Connecticut Examiner. “A Closer Look at School Enrollment Patterns in Madison and Lyme-Old Lyme” by Emilia Ott. December 9, 2021.

Connecticut Mirror. “A quarter of CT students went MIA when COVID closed schools: Could holding live, online classes lure them back?” By Jacqueline Rabe. July 28, 2020.

Here and Now. WNPR. “Private Philanthropy in Public Schools.” By David DesRoches. April 19, 2019. Also broadcast throughout New England via the New England News Collaborative.

Marshall Memo (volume 763). “Principals Freelancing with State Teacher-Evaluation Policies.” by Kim Marshall. November 26, 2018.

Ed Week Inside School Research Blog. “Districts Want Teacher Evaluation. What Do Principals Want?” by Sarah Sparks. July 26, 2018.

Chalkbeat. “The Gates Foundation bet big on teacher evaluation. The report it commissioned explains how those efforts fell short.” By Matt Barnum. June 20, 2018.

Morgaen Donaldson
Contact Information
Phone860 486 4438
Mailing AddressUnit 3064
Office LocationGentry 340B