KIPP Heartwood Academy

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The challenge: How to get traditionally underperforming students to achieve at high levels

The majority of students that enter KIPP Heartwood are those whom have traditionally been among the worst performing students in California. With a 72 percent Latino population and 82 percent of students qualifying for the Free or Reduced Lunch program, KIPP Heartwood strives to turn a traditionally underperforming population into high achieving, college-ready individuals.

The solution: A School with the flexibility to meet the needs of each student

At KIPP Heartwood, staff members believe that building a strong school culture is a key factor in students' success. The culture at KIPP Heartwood is based on five core elements: Honor, Excellence, Absolute Determination, Responsibility and Team (H.E.A.R.T). This idea of H.E.A.R.T. lies at the center of the of the school culture and unites the entire school community to strive for academic success. The school leader spends a week of staff development focusing on school culture to ensure each member is on the same page.

Additionally, this attention to healthy school culture enables a "tight knit community" of teachers, parents and students to be on the same page. When students are able to internalize school culture, teachers are able to devote more time to academics.

Thanks to the flexible charter school structure, teachers are able to tailor the curriculum to fit students' needs. Teachers are able to make quick and effective changes to support students' learning, and are able to provide one-on-one support to the students who need it the most. KIPP Heartwood's effort to help struggling students is one that is shared by the entire school community. Exhibiting Team culture, students often offer academic assistance and simple words of encouragement to others.

The results: a tight-knit community that works together to accelerate the achievement of their students

The school achieved an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 903 in 2008, ranking it in the top 6% of all public schools in California. KIPP Heartwood has been the highest performing school in the Alum Rock school district since inception, earning a "10" statewide rank and similar schools rank from the California Department of Education in 2006 and 2007.

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