As a part of our series that answers frequently asked questions we hear from prospective families, how our program is different from the Advanced Academics Program (AAP) is commonly asked at Information Sessions. Below are just a few differentiating elements that our program provides. At BASIS Independent McLean, similar to many PreK-12 schools, we want students to find a program that's the right fit for them.

BASIS Independent McLean offers a liberal arts and sciences curriculum that is benchmarked to the highest standards in the world. Our program attracts students who are interested in an advanced offering for different reasons, from wanting more challenge to having the opportunity to dive into disciplines taught by a dedicated Subject Expert Teacher. It’s important to note that we are not a Gifted and Talented program. We are a program where any motivated student can excel.

The Advanced Academic Programs is a dedicated offering for many students. Discussed below is where we stand apart, however.

Subject Expert Teachers and Two-Teacher Model
Beginning in 1st grade, students have a Subject Expert Teacher (SET) focused only on their respective discipline. In Level II AAP by contrast, the same teacher provides differentiated lesson plans for advanced students in several subject areas. Having a SET enables that teacher to focus on the content and engage students. A middle school student who joined BASIS Independent from the AAP program expressed that his teachers “involve students in the learning of each subject with more discussion and engagement” to develop in depth application of critical thinking skills. 

In our primary school, from 1st through 4th grade, students will have two teachers in every classroom, including a SET and Learning Expert Teacher (LET). While students rotate subject and classroom every period, the LET is a constant who knows the individual learning styles of each child while supporting every SET that student has in a day. To learn more about our primary program, and SET and LET model, watch this video.

A Liberal Arts and Science Curriculum
We have specialized courses as part of the curriculum that provides a well-rounded and challenging experience, including Latin (5th and 6th grade), BINS McLean Students Engineering.jpgClassics, Music, Drama, Art, Logic, and Economics. The sciences are separated into physics, chemistry, and biology starting in the 6th grade. Students receive nine hours a week of the three sciences in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Starting in 1st grade, students will rotate subjects like students traditionally do in middle school. Students in 1st through 4th grade have a weekly Connections class to help them develop big-picture thinking and problem solving skills. Read more about Connections here. Mandarin and Engineering are also required courses from PreK to 4th grade to develop critical thinking skills. In 8th grade, students take World History and the course uses an Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. Students have the option to take the AP exam upon completion of the course. 

Math Customization
Starting in 5th grade, BASIS Independent McLean places students in math based on their achievement level. It is not uncommon for 5th graders to take Algebra I or an 8th or 9th grader to take Pre-Calculus. All students are required to take a math readiness exam upon enrollment to determine the most appropriate math course. 

Nationally Recognized High School Program
Students can continue an advanced program after 8th grade by transitioning into our acclaimed high school program. Our high school program is designed around problem solving across disciplines from English and history to science and everything in between. The senior year at BASIS Independent McLean is a bridge year between high school and college where students take Capstone courses, a daily college counseling class, and participate in a three-month, off-site, independent project.

Join us on Wednesday, March 1 at 12 noon for a Lunch & Learn on the differences and similarities between AAP and BASIS Independent McLean. Hear from enrolled parents whose children previously participated in the AAP program. 


BASIS Independent McLean is a preschool-12th grade private school located in McLean, Virginia providing students an acclaimed liberal arts and science curriculum. Learn more about our program at an upcoming informational event.