Phillips At Attucks Makes the Grade

Student and staff efforts lead to upgrade in state status


Kansas City, February 2, 2017: Visit Wendell Phillips At Attucks Elementary School these days and you’re going to sense a lot of success in the air.

Phillips was recently upgraded out of “Focus” status by Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) thanks to a lot of hard work by students and staff over the last three years to make the school one of the best in the state.

News of the state status change sent a wave of pride throughout the school’s community, according to Principal Deloris Brown. Seeing all their hard work pay off will motivate students, staff and parents to make even greater gains.

“We felt a great sense of achievement,” Ms. Brown said. “This success will really help us stay focused and accountable.”

DESE’s Focus designation is reserved for schools with achievement results in the state’s bottom 10 percent for three years in a row, according to Kansas City Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of School Leadership Anthony Lewis.

As a focus school, Phillips got additional oversight, support and guidance from KCPS and DESE. That process included once-a-month meetings with an improvement team from the school and experts.

“We would analyze classroom data and assess our progress,” Mr. Lewis said. “You remain a Focus school until achievement results have improved for three years in a row.”

Phillip’s results on Missouri’s Annual Progress Report for schools have been very impressive for the last three years. It has scored at or near 100 percent of the possible points and is now one of the best public elementary schools in the Kansas City region.

Lewis credited the students and staff at Phillips for doing the hard work necessary to change the school’s status. He had particular praise for Brown.

“For her to move her building out of focus-school status definitely speaks to her talents and passion as a leader,” Lewis said.

The Focus-school process was challenging but ultimately very positive for Phillips, according to Brown.

“We all learned so much and it really helped us focus,” Brown said. “Everybody began to work towards a common goal and as a team to address the individual needs of each student.”

Phillips is a textbook example of how to change a school’s culture and have a positive impact on student achievement, according to Lewis. Brown and her team are determined to be the very best.

“She’s built a culture willing to do anything and everything for students,” Lewis said. “Her kids enjoy coming to school because they have good relationships with their teacher. The students give their all because they know the staff supports them.”

The work of improvement is very important for Brown and her team. They care deeply about making sure their students are prepared to reach their dreams.

“It’s a personal journey for all of us,” she said. “If our children are successful, then we have been successful.”

Learn more about Wendell Phillips At Attucks Elementary School by visiting

See more photos from the school by visiting the KCPS Flickr site.