Biography of Dr. David Christiansen

David W. Christiansen, Ed.D.

Dr. David Christiansen was named Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Schools for the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC) in July of 2015. SDPBC is the 11th largest district in the country with a student enrollment of more than 192,000 students and an annual budget of $2.3 billion. SDPBC is the largest employer in Palm Beach County with over 21,000 employees, including approximately 13,000 teachers.

Dr. Christiansen is committed and passionate about the district mission of providing a “world-class education with equity and excellence” for all students. He is driven by three foundational beliefs: (1) Every child deserves a world class education regardless of background, race or socio-economic status; (2) A world class education can be obtained through clarity of purpose, support and empowerment of Classroom teachers and Principals; (3) Classroom teacher and Principal effectiveness are the key drivers for raising the bar and closing the gaps in student achievement.

Christiansen plays a dual role with the SDPBC.  In his role as Chief of Schools, Christiansen is responsible for the leadership, accountability and performance management for 187 schools and 192,000 students including traditional K-12 schools, Pre-K centers, alternative schools and charter schools.  He directly supervises the Chief Academic Officer, the Regional Superintendents and the Chief of Accountability. In his time serving as Chief of Schools, SDPBC accomplished the following academic and operational improvements:

  • Raised the bar and closed the achievement gap on graduation rates as district operated (non-charter) schools improved from 85.3% to 88.3%, up 3 percentage points, including a 4.6 percent increase for Black students, a 3.3 percent increase for Hispanic students and a 2.2 percent increase for White students
  • Led state of Florida in student participation in industry certification and dramatically expanded industry certification footprint and performance in acceleration at the middle school level
  • Created and implemented Principal Scorecard focused on race, gender, ESE, ELL and other subgroups across academic and social-emotional areas with teacher and student data on a monthly basis
  • Scored as highest rated urban school district in Florida in 9 out of 11 categories of the Florida Department of Education (DOE) school grade process including English, Math and Science
  • Improved 100% of DOE state-identified “Priority” turn-around “F-rated” schools, the only large urban school district to move all “Priority” schools to a “C-rated” level
  • Reduced student discipline office referrals and out of school suspensions by 14%, with most significant decreases in Black and Hispanic students
  • Revamped professional learning for school leadership through the creation of a principal leadership academy, “learn and grow” sessions for assistant principals and a personalized approach to principal development
  • Created and implemented process to increase teacher voice and support systems, Elevating and Supporting Effective Teachers and Teaching, (ECET2) with 150 teachers from across school system
  • Increased student participation in International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP) and Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) by 6% through a master schedule analysis process with school leadership teams
  • Improved college and career readiness and progress monitoring of individual students through the use of the College Board Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) for all students in 8th, 9th and 10th grade, Advanced Placement (AP) Potential reports and Khan Academy personalized portfolios for each student
  • Increased teacher support and collaboration through the expansion of Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), and the creation of year-round Single School Culture Coordinators for Title I schools
  • Engaged cross-section of stakeholders to define the desired state for English Language Arts (ELA) K-5 achievement resulting in the implementation of a district-wide 90-minute literacy block including a  standards-based adaptive technology platform in ELA and Math for all K-5 students

In his role as Deputy Superintendent, he is a partner with the Superintendent on all major decisions impacting the school system and acts as the primary designee in the absence of the Superintendent in Board meetings along with being responsible for the day to day leadership of the school district.  As Deputy, he recruits and hires top district leadership positions along with leading and facilitating cabinet and the performance management process for directors, assistant superintendents, instructional superintendent and regional superintendents.  In this role, he is focused on optimizing financial resources across federal, state and other revenue streams and eliminating redundancy and waste.

In his time serving as Deputy Superintendent, the following district-wide initiatives have been accomplished:

  • Listening and learning tour engaging over 20,000 stakeholders in the community to lay the foundation for  the strategic planning process
  • Creation and implementation of a 5-year strategic plan to drive district and school improvement with 4 strategic themes, 4 long-term outcomes and 19 strategic initiatives
  • Re-organization of the district and school leadership into new school support model that created 4 regions, an assistant superintendent focused on equity and access and the elimination of over 85 district, area and transformational positions to move $5.5 million back to our most fragile schools
  • Recruitment and hiring of top leadership positions in executive cabinet, cabinet and school support that accurately reflects the diversity of our community (4 Regional Superintendents, 9 Instructional Superintendents, 2 Assistant Superintendents and 3 Directors)
  • Successful passage of a penny sales tax in a historic level of collaboration across the school district, Palm Beach County and 39 municipalities raising over $1.35 billion for capital repairs
  • Expansion of the technology footprint at the elementary level to insure a minimum of 6 devices in every K-5 classroom and a foundational adaptive technology for K-5 students in ELA and Math

Dr. Christiansen enjoys being actively involved in the local Palm Beach community as a Board member for Junior Achievement of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast and a member of the Glades Career Readiness Roundtable, Leadership Palm Beach County (LPBC), Collective Impact of Palm Beach and the Academic Advisory Committee.

Over the last 26 years, he has served as a classroom teacher, coach, advisor, director, school principal, associate superintendent and chief academic officer and he has experience at each level of education including early learning/Pre-K, elementary school, middle school, high school and higher education. As a district leader in Lake County, Florida and Fresno, California, he helped earn national and state recognition in closing the achievement gap in reading, math and science. In Fresno, the district ranked in the top 3 in the country in improvement in NAEP while Lake was recognized nationally by the College Board for improvement in performance and participation in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

As a High School Principal at Evans High School in Orlando, Florida, Christiansen led efforts which

  • Increased the school grade from “F” rating in 2007 to “B” rating in 2012
  • Increased the graduation rate from 49% in 2007 to 80% in 2012
  • Collaborated with the nation’s second largest university, an industry partner and a state service organization to create and implement a nationally recognized “Community School” model to provide holistic services to all students; a 25-year partnership between Orange County Public Schools, the University of Central Florida, Children’s Home Society and JP Morgan Chase


Christiansen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University on North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Masters of Art’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership Degree from the University of Central Florida.

He enjoys spending time with his wife, Kim, who is also an educator and his three boys:  Owen, Dane and Dawson.

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