Phillips studies the causes and consequences of educational inequality. Her research focuses in particular on the causes of ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in educational success and how to reduce those disparities. Her current research projects include a random-assignment evaluation of the efficacy of two low-cost college access interventions and an ethnographic longitudinal study of adolescent culture, families, schools, and academic achievement. Phillips and her colleagues also recently developed school and classroom environment surveys for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Phillips co-founded EdBoost, a charitable, educational non-profit whose mission is to reduce educational inequality by making high-quality supplemental educational services accessible to children from all family backgrounds. EdBoost develops and refines interventions and curriculum at its learning center, scales interventions to authentic educational settings, and then tests promising interventions using rigorous evaluations to assess their cost-effectiveness. Phillips also co-founded, and serves as research advisor to, the Los Angeles Education Research Institute (LAERI). LAERI develops research partnerships with school districts in Los Angeles County, to help infuse high-quality research and evidence-based decision making into education policy and practice.
Phillips currently serves on the National Academies Committee on the Evaluation Framework for Successful K-12 STEM Education. She is a past recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship as well as a dissertation award from the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM). Phillips received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and her A.B. from Brown University.