IVA is a free, non-sectarian, independent public charter middle school in Long Beach, Calif., and the first to offer an education based on an "intellectual virtues" model. The school opened its doors in the fall of 2013 to a founding class of 6th graders. IVA added a class of students each year and is currently at its full capacity of 234 students with 78 students in each grade level 6th through 8th.
IVA has been opened since 2013 having served over 600 families in Long Beach and promoting five classes 8th graders into high school and beyond. IVA is a small middle school with a particular educational philosophy chartered by Long Beach Unified School District and proud to serve the students of Long Beach.
The goal of an intellectual virtues educational model is to foster meaningful growth in the personal qualities of a good thinker or learner: curiosity, wonder, attentiveness, open-mindedness, creativity, intellectual tenacity, and related traits. Intellectual virtues are sometimes referred to as “habits of mind,” “thinking dispositions,” or “non-cognitive skills,” and include grit and persistence.
Teaching for intellectual virtues is not an alternative to teaching rigorous academic content. Rather, rigorous content provides an opportunity for teachers to foster intellectual character growth. IVA's curriculum is closely aligned with the recently adopted Common Core State Standards. Our teachers approach the curriculum thoughtfully and reflectively so that students may develop a deep understanding of the material and practice good thinking, while mastering the standards.
IVA’s focus on intellectual character transforms the typical teacher-student interaction, student-student interaction, and even teacher-teacher interaction. Our model encourages discussion, argument, deep conceptual understanding, and metacognition -- the ability to decide when and how to use a particular problem-solving strategy. Our intellectual virtues model also determines our homework, make-up work, and grading policies.
IVA is closely connected to cutting-edge educational research on intellectual character education. Founder and board member Dr. Jason Baehr is director of the Intellectual Virtues and Education Project at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. IVA's curriculum and teaching model make significant use of Harvard's Project Zero research, especially the work of Ron Ritchhart and his colleagues. Since its opening, IVA has received much attention both nationally and internationally as a school implementing an intellectual character program with fidelity and buy in, see below for some of our current research partners.
IVA was founded by a group of parents, educators, and community members who love Long Beach and are passionate about public education. Founders and board members include public school teachers, a charter school administrator and social worker, four university professors, a scientist, a university administrator, a marketing and advertising expert, a graphic designer, a human resources expert, a corporate VP, a finance and real estate expert, and an attorney. IVA's Founding Class of 2016 Alumni includes 56 Long Beach families who are passionate for education and dedicated to their children's intellectual character formation. The opening of IVA was made possible in part by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
You can view the public hearing of IVA’s charter petition to the Long Beach Unified School District here.