On April 20, 2015, the BASIS.ed network celebrated what we consider to be one of the most salient validations of our academic programs we’ve been honored with as a community to date: The Washington Post’s 2015 Ranking of America’s Most Challenging High Schools featured BASIS.ed schools prominently at the top:
#1 - BASIS Oro Valley
#2 - BASIS Chandler
#6 - BASIS Tucson North
BASIS Scottsdale should still be noted, as journalist Jay Mathews writes, “A fourth school, BASIS Scottsdale, would have ranked above all three but was put on the Post’s Public Elites list because its very high SAT and ACT scores show it to be too selective for the main list.”
THE POWER OF THE NETWORK
First, we congratulate the above-mentioned schools for their dedication to their mission that has created some of the very best schools in the country. This latest ranking was generated based on a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school in 2014, divided by the number of graduates that year.
This news alone is incredibly exciting. But what it validates for us is just as exciting: the power of the network. At our Information Sessions, we are invariably faced with the question, “How do I know other BASIS schools will be as good as the schools that are ranked nationally?”
While individual school culture is shaped in partnership with our school leadership, teachers, and students, our DNA as a network remains the same: we focus on student learning and that focus determines every aspect of what we do — from educational matters to the distribution of resources. For us, nothing else matters.
No traditional standalone school, whether it be charter or private, can match the depth of expertise, experience and crowd-sourcing academic resourcefulness that a network, truly dedicated to learning excellence, provides the students in its care.
As I shared in a previous blog post: “Roughly half of the classroom curriculum is common across our network of BASIS.ed schools. This commonality, and the data we draw from it, is what allows us to maintain strict quality control. We entrust the remaining half of the classroom curriculum to the expertise and passion of our teachers. Nothing speaks so forcefully to our current faculty and teaching candidates of their value than this trust.”
As these recent rankings demonstrate, the learning results that our classroom culture inspires speak for themselves. The Washington Post gives us more evidence for us to say: don’t take our word for it, it is happening every day across our schools.
THE RISE OF BASIS
Speaking of our DNA as a network, in his accompanying article, “Trends from the 2015 America’s Most Challenging High Schools List,” Jay Mathews focuses on BASIS.ed Schools and what he so aptly refers to as “the rise of BASIS.”
He writes, co-founder “…Olga was stunned that U.S. schools taught so little compared to what she experienced in Europe. When I met them in 2001, they were rectifying that by creating a high school where college-level Advanced Placement courses started in the ninth grade. I thought they were way too ambitious, but they did it, and much more."
Mathews’ account of founders Michael and Olga Block's journey to opening their first program, recounting how Olga wanted more for her daughter than “to study a whale for a while and then a volcano” is a reminder of how one idea can quickly blossom into a network of excellence. His description of the beginnings is reminiscent of what Amanda Ripley describes as the “revolution” of BASIS.ed Schools in her book, The Smartest Kids in the World And How They Got that Way:
“There are even whole schools built around the ideals of rigorous learning and telling children the truth. These are countercultural places, though, with leaders who spend a lot of time convincing parents that their children are tougher than they think…teachers train students for academic conquests the way most American high schools train football players for Friday night games. On the day of Advanced Placement exams, each student files into the classroom to the Rocky theme song, ‘Eye of the Tiger’.”
THE QUIET REVOLUTION
It seems the day when BASIS.ed schools will occupy a large part – if not all - of the top 20 list is not far away.
And we certainly can’t wait.
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