James Kim has been promoted to full professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Kim originally joined the faculty in 2007 and researches the effectiveness of literacy reforms and interventions in improving student outcomes with the Reading Enhances Achievement During Summer (READS) Lab.
“Jimmy Kim has made extraordinary contributions to the field of literacy research,” said Dean James Ryan. “He is, from initial study design to the bringing of interventions to scale, an exemplar for any scholar who sets out to do high-quality experimental work in education, and to do it in partnership with educators."
“I think being part of the senior faculty at HGSE means being a temporary steward of a lot of extraordinary opportunities, and using the power and influence of a Harvard professorship to promote human flourishing by producing great science,” said Kim. “Abraham Lincoln, my favorite president, once said that anyone can deal with adversity. But if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. So I hope I am a good steward and use the power of science to advance justice and opportunity for all children through my research.”
As a literacy scholar, Kim plans long-term programs of research to improve outcomes for low-income children and struggling readers at scale. To achieve this goal, he believes we need to think more carefully about effective strategies for building children’s skill and will to read and to acquire the knowledge needed to succeed in school, college, and the workplace. Through partnerships with educators, the goal is to develop, adapt, and scale-up interventions that lead to lasting improvements in district policy decisions and classroom practice.
Since 2015, Kim has worked on researcher–practitioner partnership in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina in order to improve third-grade literacy and teacher capacity to implement the Common Core Standards in literacy across the district. “I’m excited about this partnership because we started conducting surveys of classroom practice and piloting interventions to implement very ambitious literacy instruction in the elementary grades,” said Kim. “I am excited to build on these efforts to see if we can scale-up programs and practices that catalyze improvements in both teacher practice and student outcomes.”
Kim is also the principal investigator of an Investing in Innovation Fund validation study to evaluate READS, a low-cost, large-scale summer reading intervention for improving reading comprehension outcomes in high-poverty elementary schools.
“I am most proud of the students whom I’ve had the privilege of mentoring in the READS-Lab. I tell my students that my vision is to see them become my colleagues,” said Kim. “So I am grateful to have mentored students who are now my colleagues doing great things in colleges and universities across the United States. I’m a big fan of Steven Covey and his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. The eighth habit is helping others find their voice — their calling in life. I am most grateful for the opportunity to help my students to find their voice as they navigate academia and life.”
Kim has also led experimental studies of several widely used teacher professional development interventions for improving reading and writing outcomes in the elementary and secondary grades, including the Pathway Project, Teacher Study Groups, and the Strategic Adolescent Reading Intervention. He serves on the editorial boards of Reading Research Quarterly and the Journal of Educational Psychology.
“I have two big thank yous, as I embark on this next chapter. First, thank you to my wife and best friend Syndi Kim. She’s literally read every one of my peer-reviewed journal articles and, before finding the many flaws in each paper, she always said something nice about my ideas — something one of my mentors always encouraged me to practice,” said Kim. “Second, I want to thank one my virtual mentors — someone whom I’ve never met in person but whose life and writings inspire me: author C.S. Lewis. There is a quote by him that I read almost every day. He once wrote, ‘Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two-pence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of 10, become original without ever having noticed it.’ Harvard’s motto is veritas — truth — and I’m grateful to C.S. Lewis for reminding me every day that pursuing truth is indeed very original.”