What is Intellectual Virtues Academy High School (aka IVA High)?
IVA High is a tuition-free, public charter high school serving grades 9-12. We were founded in 2016 and as our name suggests, the school focuses on fostering “intellectual virtues” or what some education theorists call “habits of mind,” “thinking dispositions,” or “non-cognitive skills.” As a charter school, we have more freedom than a typical high school to meet the needs of our student population. IVA High is leading the way for character-based education, and works collaboratively with college professors and educational researchers to offer an outstanding educational experience to students in Long Beach, CA.
In addition to state public school funding, we are also funded by grants. We have been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, a PCSGP grant of $350,000, $75,000 for Anti Bias Education (1 of 5 schools in CA) and a $200,000 Community Schools grant, among many others. IVA High is approved by the Accrediting Commission for Schools Western Association for Schools and Colleges (WASC), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and all of our academic courses have been approved through University of California Office of the President (UC Doorways).
What are “intellectual virtues” and why are they important?
In short, they are the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner – traits like curiosity, wonder, open- mindedness, and intellectual perseverance or “grit”. Intellectual virtues involve the best practices for human thinking, whether the area of study is math, history, or any other subject. These qualities are highly sought after by colleges and employers when they are looking for prospective students and employees.
If you're interested in learning more about the intellectual virtues, you can visit intellectualvirtues.org or read Paul Tough’s recent bestseller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character or Scott Seider’s Character Compass. There is an overwhelming amount of recent research in education, economics, neuroscience and other fields underscoring that success in life and school does not come from intelligence alone, but also from “non-cognitive skills” like curiosity, attentiveness, and open-mindedness – the intellectual virtues.
Where is IVA High located?
IVA High is located at 1637 Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90813 in the Wrigley/Washington neighborhoods of Long Beach . The facility is located just off Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach Boulevard, offering easy access to the school through the Blue Line and several different Long Beach Transit lines.
The location provides spacious classrooms, a front office, a counseling office, an indoor/outdoor lunch area, and a common area for students to gather. The campus was purchased by Millworks, who transforms architecturally intriguing spaces for non-profit and community use.
How many students go to IVA High?
In the first year, IVA High welcomed its first class of ninth graders, approximately 50 students, and added students every year after until we now serve 100+ students. We continue to enroll more students each year, but by design, IVA High students are members of a small, caring, and thoughtful educational community focused on equipping students to think: creatively, critically, and with the capacity for self-growth.
What does IVA High teach?
Our curriculum is aligned with and promotes a genuine mastery of Common Core State Standards. IVA High offers college preparatory classes that competitively prepare students for a range of post-secondary options, such as UC and Cal State Universities. Check out our section on Educational Practices to get an idea of how innovative learning is a collaborative, interactive process at IVA High. Fostering intellectual virtues is not an alternative to a rigorous standards-based curriculum. To the contrary, it is through an active and reflective engagement of core academic knowledge and skills that students learn to practice the intellectual virtues.
What does a typical day look like?
IVA High students take six courses in ninth grade: English I (CP or H), Math (Algebra I), Biology, Physical Education/Health, Introduction to Philosophy, and Spanish. In 10th grade, students will take English II (CP or H), Math (Geometry CP or H), Conceptual Physics, Spanish II, Introduction to Logic, World History or Marine Biology. Students may also choose to extend their learning through honors courses. We can also adjust student's individual schedules as needed to accommodate for transfer courses.
Does IVA High Offer Accelerated Courses? AP, Honors and/or Dual Enrollment?
Yes! IVA High’s AXS program offers authentic and rigorous college preparatory courses for students who want to stretch and explore their learning. Students are offered a more personalized high school experience through Honors, Advanced Placement, and College courses beginning in freshman year. Students enrolled in our dual enrollment program can currently receive up to one-year of college credit by graduation. Such advanced and accelerated studies is part of the reason our scholars have outperformed their honors peers on state and national test 6 out of 7 years.
Students are invited into our honors program based on their previous grades, teacher referral/s, and/or through self-advocacy. IVA AXS students are eager to learn. They have diverse and varied interests and take on leadership roles while contributing to our community. AXS students have priority access to personalized letters of recommendation, scholarships, and paid internships.
What is the Paid Internships for All program?
Putting education into action is key for students in understanding the importance of their education and how it will translate into employment and career. At IVA High, we are committed to providing a paid internship experience, across educational pathways, to every student who wants one, and we have developed partnerships throughout the region to make this happen.
What electives do you offer?
Although we are a small school, it is important for us to offer course to not only prepare students for college acceptance, but to offer creative and formative elective courses. Freshmen electives are built into their schedule (Introduction to Philosophy and Spanish I). In tenth grade, students take a UC/CSU aligned Spanish II and Marine Biology or World History courses for one year. We also offer a Visual Arts course.
What does the school calendar look like?
The yearly calendar and holidays will largely mirror the Long Beach Unified School District’s calendar. Visit the calendar and our daily block schedule for more details. IVA High’s school day begins at 8:35 a.m. and ends at 3:40 p.m.
What about extra-curricular activities?
We learn about ourselves through sports, music, art, theatre and related extra-curricular programs and we believe such activities are extremely worthwhile pursuits. IVA High is committed to offering STEAM, athletics, arts, and a rich blend of extracurricular activities for all students, we have 20+ clubs and activities.
Since IVA High is a smaller school, students have numerous opportunities to participate and serve as leaders. We believe in developing holistic students who are exposed to a variety of activities. We believe you do not have to be an athlete to play sports, a professional artist to produce art, or be an aspiring engineer to take robotics. We believe students can have multiple interests and develop potential in a variety of areas.
As a charter school, we have developed, and continue to develop partnerships to help provide unique extra-curricular activities. And students have the autonomy to propose new clubs by submitting a club request form. Some of our current offerings include: Cultural Drumming, Theatre, Robotics, Leadership, and Yearbook. We have also offered photography, debate, skate club, green club and more. Visit our extra-curricular club page for more information. What club do you want at IVA High?
Does IVA High have a dress code or uniform?
To promote unity and academic success, IVA High requires students to follow the Dress Code. This Dress Code is meant to give students some flexibility and versatility while also giving clear guidelines about what is acceptable so that our work and interactions at school are focused on teaching, learning, and community building. For details, visithttps://www.ivahigh.org/en/dress-code.
Who teaches at IVA High?
IVA High is committed to providing the very best teachers in every classroom. Our faculty are dedicated, innovative, engaging, passionate professionals that care deeply about your student's growth and success. 75% of our faculty hold a master's degree or higher, and 42% previously worked at the college level. Visit Meet the Faculty to learn more about our teachers and staff.
Does IVA High welcome students with special needs, Individual Education Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans? How about English Language (EL) students?
Absolutely! Our school services students with disabilities in a least-restricted environment, based on an inclusion model. We have a full time Special Education teacher on staff with additional support staff to provide intervention services. As a small school, we connect with each family in order to meet the unique needs of our students with a differentiated instruction. Additionally, we weave the ELD standards throughout our program and provide additional support for EL students. IVA High functions as a local education agency (LEA) and has a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for purposes of providing special education and related services pursuant to Education Code §47641(b). In other words, IVA High oversees all Special Education providers and services ensuring that all of its students have access to a free and appropriate public education.
How does an intellectual virtues-based education model differ from other models?
The focus of an intellectual virtues approach is deeply personal in the sense that it is about nurturing personal qualities like curiosity, wonder, intellectual perseverance, intellectual courage and open- mindedness. Therefore, the ultimate goal of an intellectual virtues approach is much richer and more meaningful than, say, the achievement of high scores on standardized tests. In addition, an intellectual virtues approach is academically rigorous. This is because intellectual virtues aim to develop a deep understanding and wise application of important knowledge. They demand much more than short-term memorization of isolated facts.
The model also meaningfully defines certain familiar, but all too often vague education ideals, like a love of learning. We believe that to have a genuine love of learning or to be a life-long learner, is to possess a range of intellectual virtues like curiosity, reflectiveness, a love of knowledge, intellectual determination and perseverance, open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, creativity, imagination, intellectual honesty and integrity. What makes this model unique is that it involves exploring these concepts in detail and making them an explicit and central part of what goes on in the classroom on a day-to-day basis. As stated by Jason Baehr, an intellectual virtues thought leader and co-founder of Intellectual Virtues Academy,
“Society at large will benefit significantly from the training provided by an [intellectual virtue] education. To be trained in the intellectual virtues is to be trained to *think* and more specifically, to think deeply, carefully, and well. This is a kind of fulfillment or ‘perfection’ of human nature; as such, it is valuable in its own right. But knowing how to think deeply, carefully, and well is immensely valuable in all sectors of life. There is hardly a profession, line of work, or other vocational pursuit in human life that is not benefited by this ability. Accordingly, Intellectual Virtues Academy will graduate students with the skills and capacities to perform well in their chosen careers and to live thoughtful and intelligent lives.”
What is a charter school?
In 1992, the California Charter Schools Act was passed in order to encourage innovation and increase opportunities for students, families, and teachers within the public education sphere. A charter school is a tuition-free public school that operates independently from local school districts. As schools of choice, all charter schools are open to any student who wants to apply, regardless of where he or she lives within the state. If more students apply than space permits, charter schools are required to hold a lottery for admission. There are no admission tests or tuition fees at charter schools.
Charter schools have flexibility in the design of their school programs, their personnel decisions, and their resource allocation. In exchange for this freedom, public charter schools are held accountable for their school’s performance including student achievement, organizational and fiscal management, and stakeholder satisfaction. Charter schools are independently operated, but public, non-sectarian, non-profit, open enrollment schools.
IVA High has been charted through the Los Angeles Office of Education.
“Charter Schools are innovative public schools started by educators, parents and communities, open to students of every background or ability. But, they’re freer of red tape and top-down management than most of our schools are…Also, charter schools don’t divert taxpayer’s dollars from our public school system; instead, they use those dollars to promote excellence and competition within the system and in doing so, they spur all our public schools to improve.” – President Bill Clinton, 1999