BASIS Tucson

Posted on June 25, 2007 | Type: Op-Ed
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Since 1998, BASIS Tucson has offered a world class educational option to parents and students in the greater Tucson area.  After less than one decade in operation, BASIS Tucson is now one of the best college prep schools in the country and a demonstration of just how good education “made in America” can be.

BASIS Tucson is the highest ranked charter school in the US and the only Arizona school to make Newsweek’s “America’s Best [Public] High Schools: The Top100” list in 2006.  In fact, BASIS Tucson has been ranked in the top ten by Newsweek for two years running. In 2004, BASIS Tucson was selected by the US department of education as one the most successful charter schools in the nation.

BASIS Tucson seeks to achieve its goal of providing an academic foundation for lifelong learning through its mission to provide a rigorous liberal arts education to middle and high school students.

The BASIS Tucson Middle School curriculum was inspired by the Core Knowledge Sequence, guided by the basic Arizona state standards and infused with European K-12 traditions. The overall objective of the middle school curriculum is to prepare students for the rigors of the College Board’s AP courses beginning in 9th grade.  The Saxon program is utilized for math, culminating in algebra I in 7th grade and algebra II in 8th grade.  Biology, chemistry, and physics are taught as separate subjects, all of which are required.  Latin is taken in both 5th and 6th grade to create the foundation for studying English and scientific terminology.  Students must take a modern foreign language beginning in 7th grade, choosing between Spanish, French, German or Mandarin Chinese. English classes emphasize critical thinking skills in reading and writing.  At BASIS, students study social science, not social studies.  Courses cover world and US history on a timeline, and there is a separate economics course that examines the basic concepts of a market economy.  Physical education and fine arts compliment the rigorous academic curriculum, offering, among other things, music history and theory, art fundamentals, and martial arts.

The curriculum at BASIS Tucson Upper School is centered around the College Board’s AP program in all core subjects and is one of the most rigorous high school programs in the country.  All students complete calculus, physics, biology, chemistry, US, European, and world history,  English literature, critical writing and analysis, and a modern foreign language before they graduate—and they do all this by the end of their junior year.  This allows time during their senior year to engage in a senior research project off campus. Most students also take AP calculus and a good proportion take AP micro and macro economics.  Moreover, students take at least 6 AP exams during their high school tenure, with these exams counting as final exams in the course. BASIS may be the only school in the country to integrate AP exams into course grades. Research findings indicate that students who score well on AP exams do better while in college and are much more likely to graduate from college than students who do not score well on AP exams. In the 2006-07 school year, 75% percent of BASIS Tucson students scored a 3 or higher on the 202 AP exams administered.  Beyond that, 78% of those taking the AP calculus exam received the highest score possible (5).

BASIS offers the type of education that students receive in other industrialized countries, however with a uniquely American flavor.  It is the type of education, according to founders Michael and Olga Block, that Americans will need to continue to compete successfully in the global economy.  

For more information on BASIS Tucson, please visit

If you are interested in making a donation to assist BASIS Tucson in maintaining its world class curriculum and teachers, please contact the Associate Schools Director, Arwynn Mattix, at (480) 451-7560.

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