We Do Not Select, Neither Do We Place a Cap On Ability and Ambition


Our BASIS Washington D.C. families and prospective families across the city are rightfully proud of the high BASIS DC scores on the latest PARCC1 college readiness assessments. We are proud too, for the commitment that BASIS DC made to the city is slowly being fulfilled.

What is that commitment? It is to be a key part of the movement in DC to give all local children the chance to study hard in a free public school program that will utterly transform the opportunities and choices available to them in the future.

Promises in the education world are a debased currency – but not at BASIS DC, where promises still carry value. Why can you take the promise of BASIS DC to the bank? Look at our record: our high schools begin slowly, and they begin small. Tucson’s first high school graduating class had 12 students in 2005. In 2008 it was ranked the number 1 school in America. These PARCC results tell us that BASIS DC is on the same path.

BASIS.ed offers the children of Washington D.C. a very simple and straightforward bargain. Our learning culture has proven itself to be amongst the most academically successful and ambitious in the world. Come to us, to our rich, vibrant schoolhouse with our rich, vibrant curriculum and our rich, vibrant support, and take true ownership of your education. You will work extremely hard and you will learn to feel pride in the accomplishments that you have earned. You will face challenges, and whilst teachers and parents and guardians will be there to support you, overcoming them will be, in the end, your responsibility. As in adult life, so in school: as Wordsworth wrote, “The Child is father of the Man.”

We do not select, neither do we place a cap on ability and ambition. Such a learning culture is something to be prized as one of the educational opportunities available free to the students and parents of Washington D.C.

Once again, a heartfelt and well-earned congratulations to our students and staff in the nation’s capital on these excellent PARCC results, which show the folks in Washington what we at BASIS.ed already knew: that BASIS DC is on the identical path as other BASIS.ed schools.

You can take that to the bank.

1.PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is a math and English assessment tool with both performance-based and end-of-year assessment of students in elementary, middle and high school grades. It is currently administered in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@BASISed.com.





Recently, a fairly well known education blogger published a piece from a parent at a BASIS.ed managed school, BASIS Mesa, criticizing our programs and teachers.

We, at BASIS.ed, are used to such criticism – even when, like this blog post, it contained a number of suppositions and statements that are simply not true.

However, we shared the piece with our faculty and, upon seeing it, one of our BASIS Mesa teachers penned this response, which we thought we’d share with you. Here it is:

After spending a significant amount of time reading a recent post and accompanying comments about BASIS Mesa on an education blog, I began to reflect on why I teach at BASIS and BASIS Mesa in particular. While I know the origins of the blog post, and of the half-truths, misrepresentations, and one-sided views that it contains, my reflection is not about those statements. It instead focuses on the amazing teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and students about which the parent in the post wrote.

These people care. These people, myself included, work hard for our kids. Yes, I wrote our kids because each and every one of them will always be my kid whether they earned 20% or 105%, whether they broke my heart or made my day; they, and their success in both school and life, are important to me, vital, always.

I do not know a single person inside our BASIS Mesa school building that would say anything different. No system is perfect and works for every child, because each child is different, is truly unique. I know you know this.

The BASIS Mesa I know teaches every student who steps through our door. Do they all stay? No. This school (like any school) is not for everyone. But, could they all stay? Yes… and that’s what I love about teaching at BASIS Mesa in particular.

BASIS Mesa is diverse: ethnically, culturally, socioeconomically, educationally, and experimentally. The students who step through our doors are amazing in their own unique ways, not because they are excellent memorizers or regurgitators who study for four or five or more hours each day, but because they care to learn something more about our world. They ask incredible questions, they desire to make a difference, they are passionate, they are unafraid to be themselves, they know how to be silly one moment and in the next dream of a world without conflict. This is why I believe that any student can “do” BASIS. Because any child or any teenager, no matter how shy or self-assured, prepared or unprepared, can simply “feel” or “do” those things. That is, any kid can ask questions, can be curious, can learn to be unafraid, can learn to love to learn.

Every day that I go to work I see one of my kids or colleagues do something amazing. And I love them for it. Now, “amazing” does not have to be teaching a class comprised of only excelling students or teaching a student who earns no less than 97% on every test in every subject. “Amazing” can simply be the moment the light bulb goes on – POOF! — on a difficult concept. “Amazing” can mean earning a passing grade on an essay, after struggling on each previous exam or homework assignment. “Amazing” can mean debating with a peer about a current issue while you eat your lunch, or progressing from understanding what something means to explaining why that something matters. “Amazing” for me was having a student tell me that, thanks to my class, they understand that people have different opinions from their own and how they should always be respectful of that. And “amazing” means hearing from my kids that my caring for them, about them, helps them make it through the tough days, and adds to the good days.

Every student can grow and improve at BASIS Mesa and all BASIS schools — even the ones who decide to leave, or who stay and do not earn all “A’s”, “B’s”, or “C’s”. Every student can learn something that can one day change the world for another person… or merely for themselves… and isn’t that all that a chain reaction takes?

Charter schools generally, and BASIS.ed school in particular, were very new to me moving from Virginia to Arizona. I grew up and received my education in an amazing community in a traditional public school. I was well prepared for my life outside of K-12 education and my goal is, and always will be, to do the same thing for my students no matter where they decide to go upon leaving my classroom. I gave back to the community I grew up in by teaching at my old high school. I love that school and community but each year that I taught there got a little more stressful due to the growing pressures and demands placed upon teachers. The lengthening list of requirements and paperwork — which would typically not be stressful by itself – began to feel like a mountain I could never, ever climb. Many of the demands felt as though they did nothing to help our students grow in their education, but, instead, actually took time away from teaching our students. These demands prompted me to question whether or not I could continue in a job – a job I had always dreamed of doing for the rest of my life — for the next 30 years. And that scared me. Could I feel good about what I was being asked to do when I knew many of the requirements would have negative impacts on my students?

I teach at a BASIS.ed school because this is not the case. Yes, I have numerous requirements and responsibilities I have to meet and it can often be quite stressful — but I am not asked  to do things that take away from my primary role, which is to provide my students with an excellent, and well-rounded, education. Yes, I have an intensive curriculum to teach and it is far from easy. But whether it is teaching AP to 9th graders or a Comp course to 6th graders, I have the freedom to choose how and when I am going to teach the material. There are expectations I have to meet but it is up to me how to get us there – and my expertise is understood, and my passion for my kids is a positive. In my direct experience, this is not always the case in traditional public schools today.

But this is the magic of BASIS.

I get to teach my kids!

A teacher who gets to teach, to focus on teaching!

I get to do things that I know will work best for them. And, guess what? If it doesn’t work, I can change and try something else. This is something that was starting to get lost when I left Virginia, and it broke my heart.

I teach at BASIS because I know that I am doing something good and meaningful. Yes, I could perhaps find this elsewhere, but I have found it at BASIS Mesa. Yes, some days can and will be challenging –but that’s life, and challenges are a part of it, often a very good part. Some days I go home, and beat myself up a bit, while other days I go home on top of the world — but I always return the next day, ready to go again, to try something new, different, or unique because my kids deserve the very best from me.

I made a promise that I would work with each and every kid who sits down in my classroom, no matter what ability level they walk in with, and do my best to help them earn a quality education because they deserve it. My colleagues do the same. Truly, I don’t challenge my kids to reach for the stars because it’s what BASIS.ed requires of them or because a letter on a piece of paper defines who they are but because they deserve to go out into the world with a quality education, prepared for what the future holds… prepared, even, to change the future… to make a positive impact.

The system may not be perfect; I do not believe a perfect system exists. But our kids deserve my best and I have made a promise to give it to them. I, along with each and every teacher in that building, want our kids to succeed.

My colleagues and I spend a great deal of time reflecting and ruminating on the activities, lessons, discussions, struggles, and happy moments that occur not just in a school day but in a single class period so that we can be better teachers for our kids the next second we see them. It’s why I have spent two hours putting these thoughts down on paper. It’s why I am taking the time to articulate how much meaning the students, my colleagues, and what we do each and every day at BASIS Mesa delivers to all of us, and to education in America as a whole. We might not be able to change the world for every student who walks through our door, but I know that we all strive to make a positive impact on the lives of our kids.

And I may not be the one to make the biggest impact on any given student’s life, though I will always try – and, more than likely, someone that I work with will make that impact!

And that is why I teach at BASIS Mesa.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@BASISed.com.



An Eminently Personal Decision



BASIS.ed folks are sometimes pressed for advice by families when they are choosing a school. We are most often asked “what’s most important” for parents to look for, to seek, and to notice during that process.

And our answers are invariably something like, what do you want for your child? He or she is your guide to what’s truly ‘most important’ – because what’s most important is what’s most important to your family.

BASIS charter schools offer an education that prepares students in grades K-12 according to the highest, most rigorous international standards

At BASIS.ed, we know that it’s your job as parents to determine what’s best for your family, and that schools must be open and transparent about their learning culture. As parents ourselves, we understand that choosing a school is an eminently personal decision comprised of numerous factors – about the prospective school, of course, but also about your child.

And we, like you, know exactly why that is.

The Smartest kids in the WorldIt’s precisely what acclaimed Time education reporter and author Amanda Ripley wrote in her 2013 New York Times bestseller “The Smartest Kids In The World (And How They Got That Way)”.

It is important to note here that Ripley’s book is a wonderful read, and not just because BASIS.ed schools are mentioned. It’s a breezy page-turner that’s at once chock full of data, and filled with fascinating anecdotes about kids in classrooms across the country and around the world, highlighting differences and trumpeting why great schools are great.

In particular, please check out her Appendix I – “How to spot a world class education” — on pages 207-218.

Back to what’s most important about choosing a school. As Ripley writes:

“Every child is different. An outstanding school for one child would be hell on earth for another. Still, when it comes to finding a school that is both rigorous and alive, full of spirit and learning, there are a few reliable questions to ask… based on what I have seen from visiting schools on four continents.”

 Ripley continues, and suggests that you:

 “Watch the students … The best way to gauge the quality of a school is to spend time – even just twenty minutes – visiting classrooms while school is in session…

 “Watch for signs that all the kids are paying attention, interested in what they are doing, and working hard…

 “Don’t check for signs of order; sometimes learning happens in noisy places…

 “Remember that rigorous learning actually looks rigorous…

 “Resist the urge to focus on the teacher. In the best classrooms in the world, the teacher might be quiet…

What you think of the teacher during a short visit is not as important as what the kids think after watching her all year…

 “Talk to the students…

 “Listen to the parents…

 “Ask the principal hard questions…
      How do you choose your teachers?
      How do you make your teachers better?
      How do you measure success?
      How do you make sure the work is rigorous enough?
      How do you keep raising the bar to find out what kids can do?”

We couldn’t agree more. We have sat with students and siblings, and moms and dads, and answered these questions for countless families – a great many who enrolled in our schools, and a great many who did not.

This is your process, for your family – and you are in charge. Your ownership of it is vital – for you and your child, and ultimately for us as well.

Recently, the College Board sent several of their educators to visit BASIS charter schools in Arizona. (The College Board is the national higher education non-profit that administers the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program, including AP exams).

Why did thCollege Counseling at BASISis established, renowned, 115-year old institution of higher education and higher learning journey to BASIS.ed?

They came because they can discern what’s happening in a school the same way Amanda Ripley suggests: by watching and speaking to students. They want the pulse of the people who teach AP classes and administer AP exams, and they know how to take it. They know what to look for. And – because you know your child so well – you know what to look for, too.

(Click on this link to check out the College Board’s blog post about their visit to BASIS.ed.)

Schools are an intimate part of kids’ lives, and thus an intimate part of parents’ lives, too. Teachers are central characters, classrooms are a primary everyday place, home rooms are a second home, and the schoolhouse is where friends and notions and thoughts and dreams appear.

If you’re one of our families reading this, we know you know this – and we appreciate your input into, and your ownership of, your child’s education. We get it. It’s why BASIS.ed exists.

And, if you’re considering a school, we hope your search is fruitful in whatever manner you measure success!

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

An Exuberant Summer, and a Reverent Fall


We are well into the school year already – the summer flew by, as it does, as did the first few weeks of the new school year.

BASISed_Blog_BASIS Scottsdale.jpg

But autumn is where it’s at for BASIS.ed. I think Yoko Ono had it just right:

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.

It’s safe to say that there’s a little bit of innocence, exuberance, reverence and perseverance in each BASIS.ed school – but this time of year we look a bit more reverent at what we do, and how lucky we feel to be back in class.

BASIS.ed now manages 23 schools around the world – including five new schools that have just opened for the 2015-16 academic year, among them our first international school, in southern China:

BASIS Chandler Primary
BASIS Goodyear
BASIS Goodyear Primary
BASIS Scottsdale Primary
BASIS International School Shenzhen

Beyond the freshly sharpened pencils and clean notebooks and whiteboards, our students can of course can identify their fresh start with simplicity: they’re in a new grade, taking new courses, studying with new teachers.

For us, the beauty of the academic calendar is that there’s no sense of “same-old” for our teachers and administrators, either. Our school is filled with teachers who also have that clean-slate feeling when the new academic year kicks off.

It’s a feeling of reverence that we have for our students, following a summer of exuberance while we prepared for them, by preparing ourselves.

It’s a similar feeling that the notion of a great school brings to mind at any time of year, only more pronounced when summer passes into fall: the feeling that anything is possible, and even probable, but you have to get up and do it.

Exuberance, then reverence.

The feeling that you can know anything, and therefore you can do anything, within your scope of hope.

We wish a very happy approaching autumn to our students and their families. We hope the school year started well for you, and brings you closer to whatever you wish for.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.


Another Honor for Our Founders



BASIS co-founders Olga and Dr. Michael Block have recently been honored by Noodle, the acclaimed top education website connecting students with schools, programs, resources, experts, and more. (If you haven’t checked out Noodle, click here – it’s a
pretty cool site.)

Noodle placed the Blocks on its list of “Influential Educators Who Are Changing the Way We Learn in 2015”. There are sixty seven educators on the list – all of whom, according
to Noodle, are changing the way people view education and see the world.

The impressive list of 67 educators has some familiar names in the educational world upon it – click here to see the whole thing, from the beginning.

Of the esteemed list, Noodle said in its announcement that the people on it “… have created cutting-edge tools to increase access to learning; built new schooling models
from the ground up; anticipated the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century; and inspired other teachers to give the best of themselves in the classroom. In a wide range
of ways, these educators are innovating the ways we learn.”

About the Blocks, Noodle says it honored them for “[seeking] to create educational institutions that combined the rigors of Asian and European schooling with the American system’s emphasis on creativity and originality” – as well as for being “dedicated to producing excellent outcomes and replicable results.”

Each of the educators that made the list shared a few similar characteristics. All are currently active in the education world, affiliated with a highly-regarded institution and/or personally well-known, and making an impact on the larger field beyond their classrooms and/or offices.

We congratulate our founders for another honor, well deserved. The Blocks remain a vital part of BASIS.ed, of each BASIS charter and independent school, and of everything that we do. We are able to deliver a world-class education to so many thousands of students because of that initial inspiration by the Blocks, followed by many years of hard work, which continues with sweat and pride today.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

What Applied Knowledge Looks Like
BASIS Students and OECD / PISA



More than rankings, more than AP scores and state assessments and the many wonderful and deserved individual honors that our students earn, the results that consistently come back from one particular national and international assessment
truly showcase the magic that happens in the classrooms of BASIS schools.

That assessment is the OECD Test for Schools (based on PISA).


Here’s why it’s such a vital assessment tool, to make sure what we do
in our schools is working:

OECD/PISA is a student assessment tool geared for use by schools,
districts and networks of schools to support research, benchmarking
and school improvement efforts.

That is, it is built as an assessment tool. It’s purpose is to see how you’re doing,
how you are educating, compared to other schools in your network, district, state,
nation, or the world.


OECD/PISA provides descriptive information and analysis on the skills and creative application of knowledge of 15-year-old students in reading, math and science, comparable to existing PISA scales.

That is, the assessment is acclaimed particularly because
it focuses not just on what students know. Rather, it shows
how students apply what they know.

Finally, it also does a little research about how “happy” students are in their schools
and with their teachers.


It is great data to have, use, and implement to improve. Can you fathom how vital that information is, to the teachers and department heads, to the Heads of School and curricular experts, who work for BASIS.ed?

I’ll bet you can!

This year, 15-year-old students at six BASIS charter schools were eligible to take
the OECD/PISA exam (up from four schools last year). Those schools were:

  • BASIS Chandler
  • BASIS Flagstaff
  • BASIS Oro Valley
  • BASIS Peoria
  • BASIS Scottsdale
  • BASIS Tucson North

This year’s OECD/PISA results, as you may have read or heard, were phenomenal. Students at BASIS schools once again tested above the highest-ranked school systems in the world – the world – as well as substantially above American students. BASIS also had a higher percentage of students scoring in the highest proficiency levels, in every subject – above Shanghai, the top-ranked school system on earth, and well above the rest of the United States.

This isn’t anything negative that people often say about exams or teaching to tests or that sort of thing (none of which we do, but that’s another blog post). Rather, clearly, this tests students in an ad-lib educational environment: showing what they know, and applying it. You cannot “prepare” for an assessment tool like this; that’s the whole point!

This is a ringing endorsement of what your kids, what our students, are able to do, thinking on their feet. Fantastically cool, eh?


Among the results:

  • All of the eligible BASIS schools outscored such other
    high scoring countries and educational systems as
    Shanghai-China, Singapore, Korea, Finland
    and Switzerland.
  • The average BASIS student performed better than
    the top 10% of students in the U.S. in mathematics.
  • The average BASIS student performed better than
    the top 25% of students in the U.S. in reading.
  • The average BASIS student performed better than
    the top 25% of students in the U.S. in science.


2015 MEAN SCORES – OECD Test for Schools (Based on PISA)
603 – BASIS Schools*
570 – Shanghai (2012 PISA)**
527 – U.S. Private (2012 PISA)
498 – U.S. (2012 PISA)

617 – BASIS Schools*
613 – Shanghai (2012 PISA)**
496 – U.S. Private (2012 PISA)
481 – U.S. (2012 PISA)

607 – BASIS Schools*
580 – Shanghai (2012 PISA)**
519 – U.S. Private (2012 PISA)
497 – U.S. (2012 PISA)

* Average of scores for all six BASIS schools participating.
** The 2015 OECD Test for Schools is benchmarked to the 2012 PISA results.


Our classrooms – as you know – try to give each student an educational uplift, a boost, so that they can indeed “apply their knowledge” just like the OECD/PISA exam assesses. Everything else aside – all of the data and rankings and ways to make sure our students are achieving at the top range of their abilities, as we believe each of them can – we want to deliver an education that lasts, something that students carry with them to their next school, to their colleges and universities, to their internships and jobs and professional development. We have seen that this terrific new tool, the OECD Test for Schools
(based on PISA)
, is a great way to assess our students’ progress, and the mission and
vision that BASIS.ed and each of our schools has for every last one of our students.
Congratulations to all of our students and teachers who participated in this cool tool, whose results on the assessment trumpet to all of BASIS that we continue to get it right.

Please click here for three graphs with data on BASIS students and OECD/PISA.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

We Are Texas



And BASIS San Antonio and San Antonio North Are Making Us Proud

New schools have growing pains – and don’t we know it. While each of our established schools has quickly become an institution worthy of the BASISed name… it wasn’t without bumps in the road, and skips and hops before the path became smooth. The notion of “becoming established” means that – well – you “aren’t yet established”… until, you finally are.

This is not a philosophical exercise. It is an acknowledgment – and something we don’t shy from. Rather, we’re proud of it. Growing is a process. Our schools start off quite well, thank you very much – due to our fantastic teachers, acclaimed curriculum, and vast experience.

But it takes time to grow, and requires growth to become truly excellent. Sometimes our schools can take a leap; sometimes, we require baby steps. But we move forward, and don’t stop. And we know we’ll get there.


This notion of slow but steady growth to greatness… is one of the reasons why we are so very proud of our two schools in the great state of Texas, BASIS San Antonio, which opened just one and a half years ago, in the fall of 2013, and BASIS San Antonio North, which opened at the start of the current school year, in the fall of 2014.

Both are growing into fantastic schools — and each is now a place with a unique and vibrant personality, and a culture of its own making. That’s how it happens. It’s how it’s supposed to be.


Have there been bumps? Of course. We always hope that that isn’t the case – indeed, we strive for perfection. But just as we wouldn’t want our child to fall down when taking those first steps… we also realize that there’s also a blessing and wisdom to be found in the skinned knee, and in getting up and journeying onward, after.

So, skinned knees and all, we were proud but not surprised when BASIS San Antonio took first place at the University Interscholastic League academic competition in Math, Science and History. The competition was fierce – it’s the most comprehensive literary and academic competitive program, anywhere. It took place in early springtime at Barbara Bush Middle School, and BASIS San Antonio student Daniel C. won 1st place overall, among all students competing. Pretty fantastic. We’d also like to note the team’s coaches, Dr. Ryan Hamilton & Mr. David Kisel. Well done, all.


A few more details: BASIS San Antonio had twenty students compete against thirteen other schools in more than twenty categories at the UIL, which was created by The University of Texas at Austin and has grown into the largest inter-school organization of its kind in the world. The UIL exists to provide educational extracurricular academic, athletic, and music contests.

Within this competition, the activities are designed to motivate students as they acquire higher levels of knowledge, to challenge students to confront issues of importance, and to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of specific skills. It’s pretty intense sounding, but it’s just purely impressive to see as an academic and competitive exercise – and not just any group of kids would be able to do what these students did.

Cool, right?

Here’s the thing. BASIS San Antonio – with BASIS San Antonio North already getting there, too – is just doing what BASISed schools do.


And when those BASIS San Antonio students were taking the gold medal at the UIL competition?

Well, that same weekend, BASIS San Antonio students were also celebrating other kids, who were winners at the Regional Spelling Bee, Junior Classical League competition, and Regional Science Fair.

The very same weekend.

8th grader Catherine E. was named the regional spelling bee finalist, when she beat out 156 spellers. She earned an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for herself and a parent to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

BASIS San Antonio 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-graders also earned themselves first, second, third and fourth places in the various categories at the Junior Classical League competition that weekend. The Junior Classical League is an international organization that encourages an interest in and an appreciation of the language, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. It is one of the largest student-driven organizations in the world. Sounds like something for students at an east coast school that’s been around since the 19th century, does it? Sure it does. But students from BASIS San Antonio – a school not yet two years old — led the way, at least that day.

That weekend, St. Mary’s University housed the Alamo Regional Science & Engineering Fair, where BASIS San Antonio students were honored with a plethora of awards. Among the honors:

* A second place Naval Science Award presented to Preston T. by the United States Navy;

* A Broadcom Masters awards presented to Ashara S. and Annastina T. — representing the top 30 among all participants; and

* The Charles McGibbon Middle School Achievement Award for excellence in physics, mathematics and computer science, presented to BASIS San Antonio for the second year in a row.

Growing pains, indeed.

(Or should we call them “GOING pains” – since that’s where BASIS San Antonio North is going, as well?)

Given how new an educational community this is, we could not be prouder. And as educators, awards and honors are great – but they’re not the bottom line. Test scores are fantastic – but they aren’t everything, either.

Rather, creating a culture where students quickly see what a joy learning is, how important knowledge is, how vital the process of studying is, no matter what course their lives will ultimately take – THAT’S what we do at BASISed. That’s why we care so much about our growing fast San Antonio schools – young though they be. They’re doing it. They’re on the path. Students at each are doing what BASISed students do – and we can’t wait to see where they go next.


Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

The Culmination of Curiosity



BASIS.ed is proud of each and every one of our students in all eighteen of our schools across the country. And while we often speak of them collectively – even abstractly – we know that each of them has her or his own story.

So today I want to focus on one of our students, just one, who is a wonderful example to each of our students, and to each of us, as educators. Anvita Gupta is a 12th grade student at BASIS Scottsdale. She’s quite into science, but is also the definition of well-rounded. She’s just a good kid, a happy all around student, who has taken to heart our consistent encouragement to students to find what they like and focus on it: to ask questions, seek answers, and be curious. (In fact, we hear Anvita already had that curious outlook when she arrived at BASIS Scottsdale!)


Anvita once described herself as a future scientist – but no more. She’s a scientist now. She is thorough and reasoned and measured in her questions, research, and answer-seeking – so much so that she just won the Third Place Medal of Distinction for Global Good at the Intel Science Talent Search at the White House. Anvita was one of forty national finalists competing for $1 million in awards in the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science and math competition. Each of the forty finalists had won a local or regional science fair; Anvita finished third among them.

Anvita, who is 17-years-old, was recognized for making it easier for computers to help develop disease-curing drugs. She essentially used machine learning algorithms to “teach” a computer to identify potential drugs for cancer, tuberculosis and Ebola. She developed a method to rank possible leads for certain molecular targets, chosen for diseases with intrinsically disordered proteins, which make up 70% of all cancer proteins and are implicated in Alzheimer’s, tuberculosis and Ebola.


Let me be clear — her research is real research – not theoretical. (It’s entitled ‘A Novel Method of Targeting Intrinsically Disordered Proteins for Drug Discovery: Application to Cancer and Tuberculosis’.) And it was so successful that pre-clinical trials are already underway in China on some tuberculosis drugs that she identified.


In addition to being recognized as one of the nation’s top science students, Anvita was awarded $35,000. She joins the ranks of other notable Science Talent Search alumni, who over the past 74 years have gone on to win eight Nobel Prizes, two Fields Medals, five National Medals of Science, 12 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and even an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Anvita’s findings expressly caught the eye of President Obama, who toured the competition and delivered remarks afterwards. In fact, soon after she presented her research to the President of the United States, he specifically recognized her research during his speech. (If you want to read President Barack Obama’s full speech at the Intel Science Talent Search, including Anvita’s mention, click here.)


You should also know that Anvita is the founder and director of LITAS For Girls – an organization that aims to inspire middle school girls to learn to love computer science, and eventually pursue computer science careers. Anvita has loads to say about the gender gap in STEM learning and STEM-based careers. No surprise, then, that just as she’s a scientist right now, rather than a “future scientist” (not that there’s anything wrong with that)… she’s also not just a proponent of bridging that STEM gender gap. She’s actually helping build the bridge. (You can see more about this subject at www.litas4girls.org.)


You can also check out a fun Q & A article featuring Anvita here; and a great news story covering Anvita’s success here.

Anyway, we though Anvita was someone you should know. She represents the culmination, the ultimate result of what we strive to do as educators. No, not every student can finish third in the nation and meet the President inside the White House – we know that. But what every student can do is to be curious, to find joy in learning, in asking, in answering. That’s how we roll – and that’s what Anvita did, and we are so very proud of her. Anvita’s teachers and classmates are, too.

We wish you a hearty congratulations, and a lifetime of continued curiosity, Anvita – as well as academic and scientific fulfillment, and joy in whatever you decide to pursue.

Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.




BASIS charter schools have been educating students for nearly two decades – and have been doing it quite differently than most other institutions of primary and secondary learning across the nation, and around the world.

BASIS began as one charter school in Tucson, serving mostly low- and middle-income families in central Tucson, with no growth aspirations. After that first school became a huge success, we were asked if we could replicate our curriculum in a new location and find more BASIS-capable teachers. We decided to give it a whirl. Our second school was also an excellent institution. Since then, students at BASIS Tucson (now called BASIS Tucson North) and BASIS Scottsdale have been honored with top national rankings, sky-high OECD scores, long lists of AP scholars, and myriad admissions to top universities. Now, the BASIS education is available to students at 18 schools across the country,
with many more to come over the next few years.

The academic honors we receive are, of course, quite nice, but they are not the reason that BASIS charter schools exist. They aren’t why we do this. And the consistent mention of the honors and accolades of our students individually and collectively isn’t braggadocio. It’s merely a symbol of what we have done, can do, and will continue to do – for any student who wants the advanced curriculum, the high-level study and the academic grandeur that typifies the BASIS way.

But, here’s the thing: not all families want the particular program
that we offer.

To choose BASIS is not only to choose academic rigor and accelerated curriculum, but is also to choose a particular brand of academic rigor and a particular flavor of acceleration.

BASIS is a choice.1

And we understand and embrace that. We have said – though naysayers consistently don’t seem to hear us – that BASIS charter schools are for ANYONE, but they are not necessarily for everyone. Said another way: BASIS charter schools represent a free choice that anyone can make, but that not everyone will make.


When critics suggest or say that “BASIS filters out undesirable students, such as those with learning or attention differences, while keeping the ‘cream of the crop'” - they are 100% wrong.

BASIS does not filter students; quite the contrary. We do everything in our pedagogical and education-instilling power for any student who chooses one of our schools and our advanced curriculum. Our teachers work long hours after class delivering extra help to any student who wants or needs it; our tutoring programs are trumpeted and reinforced and utilized by students at every level of learning; we endlessly encourage students to ask questions, to seek help, and to do so in whatever way makes them feel comfortable – while at the same time reinforcing the (age-old and still-true) notion that no question is bad, and assistance-seeking is something about which to be proud, not ashamed.


This year, six BASIS charter schools with senior classes will graduate
247 seniors, including 63 from BASIS Tucson North and 47 from
BASIS Scottsdale. These 247 students are 247 unique individuals.
They aren’t a certain “kind” of student. These 247 students have vastly different backgrounds, demographics, family lives, and academic skills.
Their only common denominator is that they each chose to be at
a BASIS school – and each therefore successfully utilized our support – accepted our resources – formulated questions and sought answers and just made a decision to stay at BASIS, and do their best.

Who is “filtered out”? Not a single student. Resources abound. Leaving is, of course,
an option – but every parent and student knows it is ultimately their choice, and staying
in our schools means hand-in-hand assistance, ceaselessly.


Can our curriculum prove to be too demanding for some pupils, of all kinds of educational and personal backgrounds? Occasionally, yes.

Are our students coming from myriad educational levels, with differing motivations and various living situations? Yes.

Is BASIS harder for some students than others? Of course it is.

That’s why students and their families have a choice
to come to one of our campuses.

But let’s not forget that the majority of students who come to BASIS love it, and most carry on, year after year. Most BASIS students and families wouldn’t leave even if you paid them to do so.

Our retention rates from year to year are very strong, despite what some critics have falsely claimed. From 2013-14 to 2014-15, BASIS retained 90% of our K-8th graders and 93% of our high school students. Our only significant attrition comes between 8th and 9th grade – the point where peer students are switching from middle school to high school across our communities, and the nation — when about 35% of our students elect to leave.

Most students who come to BASIS initially find it both different and difficult, but they stick with it – and those kids end up with a life-changing academic experience.

Some students come in and love BASIS, but leave after some years – for any number
of personal reasons. It is a choice, and we are supportive.2


And, yes, a few students come in and determine, quickly, that it is not for them.
We support them fully while they are in our classrooms, and wish them well if they
choose to depart.

We know all of this. We have seen every “type” of student stay, and every “type”
of student leave – just as we have every “type” of student among our 247 graduates
in the Class of 2015.

Our curriculum – that was “raised to the highest international standards” back in 1998 –
is utterly unique, sometimes rigorous, an academic experience unlike most. Is it any surprise, then, that some students choose to leave?

It is not surprising.

We are for anyone, but we are not for everyone…

BASIS has had consistent academic results through the academic program that we provide – not for a year or two, not for a decade, but for nearly 20 years. Two decades worth of results is not an accident. Rather, those results are evidence of what we provide for hundreds of individual students — all kinds and types of students — who choose to come to BASIS.


We have more than 10,000 students this year who walk our hallways and sit and stand shoulder-to-shoulder in classrooms and laboratories with our bright, passionate teachers.
These students and their families do not stay at BASIS because they are compelled to, because it is in the neighborhood or their “zoned school.” They stay, but not because they have to. Not at all.

Rather, they stay because they choose to stay.

We are for anyone, but we are not for everyone…

1. This isn’t to wave the “school choice” flag, either. As an education management firm that manages charters and independent schools, BASIS.ed is a part of the school choice movement and the many millions of Americans who send their children to charter or independent or magnet schools. But we are apolitical – with supporters from left, right and center – and merely (and merrily) pro learning!

2. While some students exit BASIS to focus on varsity-level high school sports, it’s important to note that we do offer countless extracurricular activities – yes, even sports, as well as theater and the arts, and numerous interscholastic competitive realms.


Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.

An Academic Beacon –
Senior Research Projects 2015



One of the most unique individual components of the curriculum at BASIS.ed-managed schools is what we call Senior Research Projects.


First, some background: at BASIS schools, students complete most academic requirements by the end of their junior year – 11th grade. Some students opt to graduate early, while others stay on for senior year. Our 12th grade curriculum offers Capstone Courses in the fall – those are college-level post AP courses, of inimitable variety, complexity, and intrigue.


In short – Capstones are really cool. And are they academically rich?

Uh, yeah – like, double chocolate fudge frosting rich.
Which is why we change it up after an autumn of Capstone
coursework – and begin our Senior Research Projects.


SRPs – A Very Deep Dive

Seniors who choose to complete a Senior Research Project (or, “SRP”) graduate with honors. And in performing an SRP, the students are diving deep not only academically, but also atmospherically. It is a form of fulfilling enrichment beyond the classroom – available in a way that few other schools can emulate. It’s sort of “internship plus” or “exponential academics”.

Students performing an SRP choose a subject area,
and then come up with a thesis – wait till you peruse
a list of them; it’ll knock you out!


In order to complete the research, the SRP student spends a good deal of time working alongside professionals or academics at corporations or businesses, or in college or university laboratories, or any number of “real world” entities.

As mentioned, it’s a deep dive.


The SRP experience, since the program began years ago, has been one of lasting import both to our seniors, and to the adult professionals working with them (as well as the corporations and universities where they’re researching).

We are so very proud of the praise we have received about our students from their research partners – praise about their intellect, professionalism, and character. And we have also received a great deal of feedback from SRP participants and their families.

They have consistently seen, much sooner than many young people get a chance to see, how their academic interests
and abilities translate to the real world, or something closer
to it, in a business or university setting.

Compounding the extraordinary experience, it’s also important to note that many of our SRP students travel “away from home” to complete their research, including out of state and cross country travel, with several over the past few years even heading abroad.

As bright and impressive as the BASIS academic program is, the Senior Research Project program is truly its beacon, a guiding light. It is a BASIS student’s truest glimpse of the high level places he or she can choose to go.


BASIS.ed’s 2015 SRP Crop

In the current academic year, BASIS.ed is managing six charter schools that have seniors performing SRPs. Below, I have posted the links to the lists of SRPs for those six schools — and I promise, you will be wowed.

Once you link to a school page, below, you’ll see a list of student names and SRP project theses. Each thesis will take you to the individual student’s blog. Yes, our students keep us apprised of their progress as they perform their SRP, and the wonderful experiences through which they are living — and they’re invigorating to read. Can I suggest “adopting a senior” and following along via their blog, until the project is complete? Plus, the students love feedback on what they’re doing – and what they’re writing! Click on the school links to view the projects.

Here’s the SRP list:

BASIS Chandler

BASIS Flagstaff

BASIS Oro Valley

BASIS Peoria

BASIS Scottsdale

BASIS Tucson North


Should you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us at BASISedBlog@basised.com.