|Headquarters||6740 N Calle de Calipso, Tucson, AZ 85718-2089|
Basis Schools (styled as BASIS Schools) is a worldwide network of thirty-seven schools that use the Basis Curriculum, which is owned by the nonprofit organization Basis Curriculum Schools, Inc., and includes twenty-seven tuition-free public Basis Charter Schools in Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C., as well as five domestic private Basis Independent Schools in New York City, Silicon Valley, and Virginia, and five private Basis International Schools, four in China, and one in Prague, Czech Republic. Basis Curriculum Schools are managed by Basis Educational Group, a for-profit charter management organization based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Basis schools have regularly topped U.S. national school rankings, earning the top five spots and more among the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools 2017 rankings, and earning the number one spot on the list of America's Most Challenging High Schools published byThe Washington Post, though they have also received criticism, most notably regarding their financial transparency and student attrition rates.
The first Basis Charter School, Basis Tucson, was founded in Tucson in 1998 by Michael and Olga Block, with the goal of educating students at an internationally competitive level.
In 2003, Basis Scottsdale was opened. In 2010, Basis Oro Valley was founded. A year later, Basis opened three schools at once in Chandler, Peoria, and Flagstaff. 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, Basis opened its tenth and eleventh Arizona campuses in Ahwatukee and Mesa, and the second non-Arizona campus was added in San Antonio, Texas. Basis also began its primary (K-4) program at their Basis Tucson site. In 2014, Basis opened in Prescott, AZ. In 2015, Basis opened its sixteenth Arizona school in Goodyear, AZ.
Basis was featured in the documentary film 2 Million Minutes: A 21st Century Solution, which examined differences between the curriculum of charter schools in comparison with that of conventional public schools. In response to the documentary, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton visited a Basis campus to deliver speeches on the importance of education in America.
There are currently twenty-seven tuition-free public charter schools located in Arizona (Basis Scottsdale and Basis Tucson Primary), Louisiana (Baton Rouge), Texas, Washington, D.C. and Huizhou, Guangdong, China that are run by Basis Schools.
Criticisms and controversies
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 as it uses for-profit management company. Another investigative article in 2010 questioned the founders' salary compared to the teachers and other public school administrators.
Other critics take issue with Basis's accelerated curriculum and general educational philosophy. Some argue that Basis focuses too much on standardized testing. 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. 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 under-performing students. In 2013, the District of Columbia Public 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.
Basis schools in Arizona solicit contributions from parents, an unusual practice for publicly-funded schools. Basis Scottsdale asks $1,500 per student. Basis teachers make less than the average for public school teachers in the state, although Basis.ed contends that with bonuses, compensation is competitive.
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