BASIS Schools

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BASIS Schools, Inc. is an Arizona charter school operator. It operates a total of twelve charter schools, including ten in Arizona, along with one school each in the District of Columbia, and in San Antonio, Texas.

Phoenix area[edit]

Tucson area[edit]

  • BASIS Tucson K-4
  • BASIS Tucson North
  • BASIS Oro Valley

Northern Arizona[edit]

  • BASIS Flagstaff

BASIS is opening three new Arizona charter schools in the fall of 2014: BASIS Prescott (5-12), BASIS Phoenix Central (K-6), and BASIS Oro Valley Primary (K-4).[1]


  • BASIS San Antonio[2]
  • BASIS San Antonio North[3]


  • BASIS Washington, D.C.[4]

Independent Schools[edit]

BASIS charter schools are managed by BASIS.ed, which will also manage two independent schools opening in the fall of 2014


The first BASIS charter school, in Tucson, was founded in 1998 by Dr. Michael and Olga Block. Their intent was to make a school that could educate students as well as schools in top performing countries such as Finland, South Korea, China, Canada, and Japan.[5] The Scottsdale campus opened in 2003, and the Oro Valley location was founded in 2010. BASIS opened three schools at once in the fall of 2011 — its Chandler, Peoria,[6] and Flagstaff locations. BASIS continued its expansion by opening another school in Tucson and one in Phoenix proper in fall 2012, along with their first non-Arizona school located in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Arizona campuses opened in Ahwatukee and Mesa, and the second non-Arizona campus was added in San Antonio, Texas.


BASIS schools are organized into two schools. A Lower School serves grades 5-7, and an Upper School serves grades 8-12.[6] Schools have about half the square footage per student than a traditional public school, reducing required facilities funding; the gymnasiums have no bleachers, and classroom space is reduced.[citation needed] The pedagogical model centers upon an accelerated curriculum[buzzword] and standardized tests, particularly the Advanced Placement exam.[citation needed]BASIS teachers are not required to be certified by the state, although they must be highly qualified[buzzword] under federal guidelines in No Child Left Behind[citation needed]Many BASIS teachers are experts[buzzword] from within their chosen fields, with over 50% having Masters degrees and 10% having a PhD.[7]

Praise and media attention[edit]

[unbalanced opinion]

BASIS Schools have been noted for performing favorably on standardized tests such as AP, IGCSE Exams, and the AIMS.[8] Students are required to take at least six AP classes throughout high school, beginning in 8th grade. 100% of BASIS graduates attend four-year universities upon receiving their BASIS diploma[9] and almost one-fourth of BASIS graduates are selected as National Merit Scholars.[10][unbalanced opinion]

BASIS consistently ranks highly in national high school ranking systems that focus on student performance on standardized tests. Newsweek has ranked BASIS one of America's top ten schools every year since 2006. BASIS was also ranked 4th in the nation by the Washington Post in 2011 and 2nd in the nation for math and science by U.S. News & World Report.[disputed ] [11] In 2013 as well as 2014, U.S. News & World Report rated both BASIS Tucson and BASIS Scottsdale (the only two BASIS schools open long enough to be eligible for rankings) as two of the top five schools in the nation.[12]

BASIS was also featured in the documentary film 2 Million Minutes: A 21st Century Solution. The film contrasts the school's accelerated curriculum

with the typical public school model.[neutrality is disputed] [13] In the wake of the documentary's success, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton visited BASIS' campus to deliver speeches on the importance of education in America.[14]

Criticisms and controversies[edit]

Both BASIS schools and their parent organization have been the subject of criticism and controversy. Critics contend that BASIS is failing to provide adequate financial transparency and accountability and is in fact actively creating financial opacity by funneling its tax dollars through a for-profit management company not subject to financial disclosure requirements.[15] Another investigative article in 2010 questioned the founders' salary compared to the teachers and other public school administrators.[16][neutrality is disputed]

Other critics take issue with BASIS's accelerated curriculum and general educational philosophy. Some argue that BASIS focuses too much on standardized testing.[17] Critics also point out that BASIS's performance in national ranking systems like the U.S. News & World Report is largely a function of BASIS's singular focus on mandatory AP testing, as these ranking systems give great weight to the percentage of students at a school that take AP tests.[18] Critics also take issue with BASIS's attrition rates (senior classes are typically a third to a quarter of the size of the fifth grade class) and argue that BASIS achieves good test scores in part by weeding out underperforming students.[19][20][21] In 2013, the D.C. Charter School Board rejected a request from BASIS DC to expand, citing concerns about the high number of students who had withdrawn from the school since it opened.[22]

Board of Directors[edit]

As of 2013, the organization had a seven person board:[23]

  • Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel
  • Michael Block, BASIS co-founder
  • Clint Bolick, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation
  • Don Budinger, founder of Rodel Inc.
  • John Morton, former president of the Arizona Council on Economic Education
  • Terry Sarvas, accountant and member of the Goldwater Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Steve Twist, law professor and founder of the Goldwater Institute for Public Policy Research


  1. ^ d68e0489437e.html
  2. ^ BASIS San Antonio
  3. ^ BASIS San Antonio North
  4. ^ BASIS Washington, D.C.
  5. ^ "BASIS History". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  6. ^ a b Hansen, Kristena (2011-08-09). "Basis opens $6.7 million charter school in north Peoria". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  7. ^ "Combining the best of European and American models propels BASIS schools". 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  8. ^ "AIMS test score". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  9. ^ ,"What Makes BASIS Schools Different". 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  10. ^ "Charter Network's Serious Curriculum Engages Students, Teachers". 2012-09-07. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  11. ^ "National rankings". 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  12. ^ "Best High School Rankings". 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  13. ^ Cavanagh, Sean. "'Two Million Minutes,' in a Couple Paragraphs - Curriculum Matters - Education Week". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  14. ^ "blogs - School Grounds - Sharpton and Gingrich Visiting BASIS". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  15. ^ "Charter transparency". Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  16. ^ "Basis School Execs Salaries Rose Fast". Retrieved 2013-10-20. 
  17. ^ "13 Ways High-Stakes Standardized Tests Hurt Students". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  18. ^ "US News "Best Schools" Ranking System". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  19. ^ "conservatives on BASIS print the legend". Retrieved 2013-04-29. 
  20. ^ "BASIS and University High are Top U.S. High Schools, which means...?". Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  21. ^ "Success by Attrition". Retrieved 2014-06-22. 
  22. ^ "DC charter board rejects request from BASIS to expand". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  23. ^ "Board of Directors". Retrieved 2012-06-11. 

External links[edit]