LITTLE ROCK — A former top state education official will head a public collaboration to improve student health and math skills, officials of the Arkansas Advanced Initiative for Math and Science announced Tuesday.
Kenneth James will assume his new role as AAIMS president on Oct. 1, succeeding current leader Tommie Sue Anthony.
“There are few people who have a stronger track record of promoting academic achievement by Arkansas students than Ken James,” said Jim Argue, chair of the AAIMS board of directors. “He has been a champion for raising standards and enriching curriculum. AAIMS is fortunate to have acquired his leadership.”
Housed at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the non-profit organization partners with UALR and public high schools across the state to improve Advanced Placement mathematics, science and English education in Arkansas, and to increase college retention and graduation rates.
James has more than 36 years of experience in public education management.
He was executive vice president for state and government relations of the Pearson School Achievement Services/America’s Choice group from 2009 until December 2012. Prior to that, James was commissioner of the state Department of Education from 2004–2009.
During his tenure as state education commissioner, he also had a role in national educational leadership. He served as a board member and president of the Council of Chief State School Officers. James testified before Congress on the adoption of common academic standards to prepare students for college and careers, and he was instrumental in gaining state support for the Common Core State Standards effort.
James began his career in education as a classroom teacher in California in 1972. He also served as a school superintendent at Lexington, Ky., and Little Rock, Van Buren and Batesville in Arkansas.