Dr. Knox Phillips Leads New Office of Accountability
The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is pleased to celebrate the success and promotion of a key central office staff member.
Dr. Knox Phillips was promoted to Associate Superintendent in the Office of Accountability in January 2018 following unanimous approval from the DeKalb County Board of Education.
In his new role, Phillips will continue his work of transforming test and performance data points into tangible results. In addition, schools will use new methodology to remain accountable to community stakeholders. By examining key data, Phillips can show school leaders how and where they can improve.
“The district really wanted to develop an accountability division that really helps align performance and goals with innovation and research,” Phillips said. “We use data, planning and strategy in a way that really helps the Superintendent have a better idea on what’s going on in the district, but also have more foresight in how to plan for the future.”
Phillips said all strategic planning in education is rooted in data. The new division, under his helm, will allow more DCSD central office staff to develop new, informed strategies for teachers and administrators. Departments now under his purview include Strategic Planning, Research & Curriculum, Flexibility & Governance, Design & Innovations, Accreditation & Special Projects, and Student Advancement.
“It’s all about making sure we’re compliant and making sure we have the tools to expand the work we’re doing,” Phillips said. “Having this division helps us work more collaboratively and avoid working in silos. We all support each other. The department is expansive and much bigger now, but we’re now working much better under one roof. We can work more efficiently.”
The promotion coincides with Phillips’ five-year history of turning important data into student achievement at DCSD. Since his arrival in 2013, Phillips has created the district’s first data warehouse, earned the district more than $5 million in grants, introduced a new progress monitoring system, help to increase student performance, and served as a key leader in the effort for DCSD’s reaccreditation.
“It’s been a really good experience, especially seeing how much the district has grown and changed for the better,” Phillips said. “Having the opportunity to be a part of that has been really nice.”
Phillips also has experience inside the schoolhouse as well as in higher education. Before arriving at DCSD’s central office, he worked as an assistant principal at Sequoyah Middle School. Before that, he served the Board of Regents for the University System of Georgia, the University of Phoenix, Morehouse College and Miami Dade College in both teaching and administrative capacities.
Dr. Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree in agriscience education and communication from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in environmental education from Nova Southeastern University where he also received an education specialist degree, and a doctorate in education from Northeastern University.
Phillips credits DCSD for encouraging advancement and fostering professional growth. He said his new role allows him to rebrand the data-driven work in ways that allow schools to know they are supported. This includes supporting schools through continuous planning, evaluating performance year by year, and working directly with students and teachers, and reaching out to alumni to continue improvement.
“This role brings everyone together, breaks down so many barriers, and we can get to work faster and more efficiently,” Phillips said. “It’s great to take the expertise I do have and apply it to this work to support departments, support department leaders, and take what we do here centrally to support our schools.”
Phillips considers himself a lifetime educator. He says the work being down at DCSD’s central office is second to none in creating future leaders.
“Education should lead what happens in society, but often it’s the other way around,” Phillips said. “The challenges—sometimes it’s a good challenge, but it’s exhausting—is trying to keep up with the ever-changing climate that is outside the school district. It’s always thinking of unique ways to overcome those challenges. It takes being more innovative, partnering with more organizations. There’s so many needs.”