Donna McKusick is a life-long educator, primarily within the public community college system. Her discipline is academic literacy with degrees in English (BA, Northeastern U.), Reading (MA, Towson U.), and Literacy (Ed. D., University of Maryland). She was most recently employed at the Community College of Baltimore County as Dean of Developmental Education and Special Academic Programs, overseeing developmental education, learning communities, academic support, honors, libraries, tutoring, high school college partnerships, pathways, equity initiatives, and Achieving the Dream. As an Achieving the Dream Data Coach, donna works with two community colleges in the SUNY system.
Dr. McKusick has written and taken part in many grants and research studies, working with MDRC, CCRC, Abell Foundation, national grants in Strengthening Institutions and Workplace Literacy, Citi Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Stanford University, and ATD. In all of these projects, she has gathered and analyzed data to determine student outcomes. She has regularly worked with CCBC’s Institutional Research Department to assess intervention and institutional effectiveness.
Her dissertation, An Analysis of Academic Literacy Tasks Required in Introductory Psychology Courses in Community College, spear-headed a life-long interest in the context of literacy and the validity of developmental education. She taught reading and writing for 20 years and co- authored an integrated reading-writing textbook, Making Sense with Integrated Reading and Writing, (Pearson) now in its second edition. She has studied contextualized and integrative learning, about which she wrote a monograph in 2012, Cross Paper #15, Making It Real: Using Contextualization for Student Success published by the League for Innovation in the Community College.
Her greatest professional achievement in developmental education has been in the conceptualization and implementation of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), which is now practiced in over 200 colleges across the country. Another strand of her work has been in the affective and social domains of learning, especially when applied to equitable outcomes, and she has led CCBC’s work in closing achievement gaps. Dr. McKusick’s career has been grounded in a central belief that education provides a powerful path to social and economic equity.