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.