BASIS Charter Schools Aim For 2014 Opening in Prescott Area

23 November 2013  
BASIS Charter Schools hope for interest from at least 700 students.

It was 1998 when the first BASIS Charter School opened in Tucson. According to the BASIS Charter School website, that first school had 54 students who met in a rented space. It was started by Dr. Michael and Olga Block.

"At the time, Michael Block was a Stanford-educated economist at the University of Arizona. Olga was a vice dean at Charles University in Prague. They met at a World Bank conference. Olga moved to Arizona and became Mrs. Block, enrolling her daughter in the local public school," the site reads. "Distressed by the school's low expectations and lack of substance, Olga was nevertheless fascinated by the high spirits and give-and-take she found in American classrooms. She wanted her daughter to go to a school that married world-class standards with that American spirit of creativity.

"Dr. Block challenged her to experiment under a new Arizona charter school law to create a new kind of American school for her daughter and other children in Tucson, Arizona."

So, the grand experiment began. The model was tested, tried and proven. By 2003, the next BASIS school was started in Scottsdale. In 2010, BASIS Oro Valley was launched, and the very next year, 2012, saw the opening of BASIS Chandler, BASIS Peoria and BASIS Flagstaff in Arizona. BASIS also stretched its boundaries across the Arizona state lines, launching BASIS DC in 2012 and BASIS San Antonio in 2013.

Now, BASIS is hoping to come to the Prescott area, opening in the fall of 2014. They expect students to come from the quad-cities, planning a site which is easy to access from Prescott, Chino Valley, Prescott Valley and Dewey-Humboldt. In their first year, they will open with 5-10th grades, and have a list filled representing over 575 students as of the middle of November. To move forward with their plans, BASIS representative Jeffrey Houser said they need to have 700 students signed up on their Interest List by December 1.

The BASIS mission is simple: To raise the level of American Education to the highest international standards. It's a mission they are achieving. The BASIS charter schools frequently rank amongst the highest in the nation and even the world. Newsweek, Washington Post and US News & World Report all rank them consistently as the in the top 10 best high schools since 2010.

They do a lot of testing, using these objective measurements:

  • International benchmarking - qualifying 56% of the BASIS Scottsdale students for Oxford and 39% for Cambridge as an example.
  • The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) - BASIS students scored the highest in the world in Math, Reading and Science, compared to students in Shanghai, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and the US.
  • AP classes/tests - the BASIS average scores are higher than global scores and Arizona scores. The average student takes 9.6 AP exams, with an 83.4% passing rate.
  • AZ Instruments to Measure Standards (AIMS) - BASIS students have a 98% passing rate, and 55% exceed.
  • Curriculum

    The curriculum is rigorous, including:

  • Well-rounded liberal arts
  • Strong math & science
  • Unlimited student progress potential
  • College coursework exposure
  • Enough credits to graduate after 11th grade
  • Mastery
  • Math starts in 5th grade with pre-algebra, and by the time students graduate in 12th grade, they could have completed AP Calculus.

    Starting in 6th grade, all students study biology, chemistry and physics. For the 5-8th grade, they study language, literature and logic. In the ninth grade, they tackle honors literature and honors language classes and take AP Literature and AP Language classes starting in 10th grade.

    Foreign languages are a key part of their studies, starting with Latin as a foundation in 5th and 6th grade. By the 7th grade, they start to focus on languages such as French, Mandarin or Spanish.

    Of course, they offer Music, Art and PE courses to help ensure the students are well rounded.

    Finally, during their senior year, they take Capstone Courses and manage their individual Senior Projects.

    Find Out More

    To find out more about the BASIS Charter Schools, and their plans for Prescott and the surrounding communities, attend a meeting on Saturday, November 23 at the Rowle P. Simmons Adult Center.

    Where: Adult Center of Prescott
    1280 E. Rosser Street

    When: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 1:30 - 3:30 PM

    Want to see BASIS in action? Sign up for a tour of either the BASIS Flagstaff or BASIS Peoria.

    Sign up for the Interest List at www.BasisSchools.org (click on the Information about Registration button.)

    Open Registration: December 4, 12:01 AM - December 11, 6:00 PM.

    Lynne LaMaster