1))About 80 attendees – approximately 10% were African-American, 0% Hispanic. Nationally, BASIS students are 40% Caucasian (non-Hispanic), 25% Hispanic, African American, and mixed, 35% Asian/Indian. Up to 20% of students are reduced- or free-lunch.
I did not recognize anyone from SUSD Administration or its Board. They already know everything there is to know about BASIS and its plans?
BASIS now has about 15,000 enrollees, mostly in Arizona, San Antonio, D.C., and China. Next year, per CEO Peter Bezanson (from another source), BASIS expects to serve more than 20,000.
2)The handout material was very heavily skewed towards comparing BASIS pupil achievements vs. others in U.S. nationwide, and globally. The presenter made it quite clear that their focus was on exceeding all global competitors. No reference to comparative Arizona pupil achievements. (SUSD high-schools are below the Arizona average.)
3)None of the presenters or individuals pictured claimed to have a PhD or EdD.
Managing/leading K-12 education is not ‘rocket science’ as the preponderance of graduate degrees within public schools seems to imply. What is required – high performance standards (including not just ‘all pupils,’ but everyone – including staff, leaders, and parents, along with basic management/leadership skills.
4)The BASIS learning model consists of each classroom having two teachers – one is a subject-matter expert (at least a B.A. in the subject being taught), the other a ‘learning’ expert with an education degree. Class sizes range from 28 to 30.
BASIS’ ability to utilize a ‘team-teaching’ model is clearly indicative of it having a dramatically lower cost base – including teacher pay/benefits. The claim made by some that it has high administrative expenses does not hold water – at least part of that misperception derives from differences in how BASIS classifies expenses. I suspect school and district overheads, as well as Special Education are also far lower within BASIS than in typical public schools.
5)Grades 1 and up pupils rotate among classrooms during the day, according to the subject. The learning expert stays with them, the subject-matter expert does not.
6)Passing 6 AP exams is required to graduate; the average is 11.7. BASIS pays the costs.
7)Eleventh and twelfth-grades are optional for many/most – it is common to have enough credits to graduate after the 10th grade. Those remaining through the 12th grade would be expected to complete a ‘Senior Project’ that typically involves serving as an intern, with both local entity and BASIS staffers helping out; would take about 1/3 of the total time that final year. Those finishing 12th-grade at BASIS could complete a ‘triple-major.’
There is about a 9% ‘turnover’ rate for pupils in grades K-8; other than transfers from other BASIS schools, it is very unlikely that an outside student would be allowed to enter a BASIS middle- or high-school. This accounts for at least part of the drop-off in enrollment in grades 7 – 12. Further, the ability to graduate from high-school at the end of the 10th-grade probably explains a good part of the enrollment drop-off in BASIS Scottsdale.
8)Grades 1-8, possibly also 9-12, pupils first see an outline of what the day’s work will involve. They’re expected to copy this, and bring it home to facilitate completion and parental involvement.
9)Middle-school pupils have 9 hours/week of science, along with potentially 6 writing opportunities/day.
10)BASIS is considering opening a new school Fall of 2018. Either in North Scottsdale (between Bell & Jomax, 64th St. and somewhere East), or Deer Valley, Surprise, Maryvale, South Scottsdale. Plan would be to have 3-4 classes for each grade that the school opened with. Locations and number of grades chosen will depend on parental interest.
11)Staff help graduating students with their application essays, resumes, etc. – as well as basic counseling.
12)Latin is mandatory in grades 5 and 6. Chinese is a regular part of K-4. Pupils in K-4 have 20 minutes of reading/day.
13)There is no ‘professional development’ during school days.
14)Their marketing material utilizes branding (they don’t teach math – rather ‘Saxxon math,’ not just reading – but ‘Phonics’ and ‘whole word’), as well as unique aspects of their curriculum. Most of all, however, the material focuses on achievement, especially that vs. U.S. high schools in general, as well as results vs. international tests.
Examples: A BASIS.ed-managed charter graduate is 281 times more likely to earn a perfect score on the PSAT, 30X more likely on the SAT, etc., along with AP Exam pass rates vs. all countries and vs. the entire U.S.
15)Student support programs foster every student’s successful transition into BASIS – before and throughout the school year.
16)Homework: About 15 minutes/evening for K, one-four hours in high-school.
17)Pupils in grades 4-6 (?) take comprehensive exams mid-year. The exams are produced by central staff – based on the curriculum uses, and the questions are not known by the teachers. The point – to evaluate teacher proficiency mid-year, followed by corrections and improvements as needed.
Evaluation of teacher performance, including the granting of substantial merit-based bonuses, is based on both observations of classroom instruction, and on student learning results on high-states assessments.
18)None of the attendees asked any questions about BASIS teacher salaries.
19)Elementary school music and art are provided once/week.
20)BASIS Scottsdale (opened 2003 – Grades 4-12 has 1,092 enrollees. Of those 73 contributed $1,500+ to its 2015-16 Annual Teacher Fund, 62 contributed $2,500+, 16 contributed $5,000+, and 6 contributed $10,000+. Fewer than half of BASIS families donate annually, and the average BASIS donation system-wide is about $700.
BASIS Scottsdale Primary (opened 2015 – Grades K-3) has 529 pupils. Of those 21 donated to the 2015-16 Annual Teacher Fund at a $1,500+ level, 13 at the $2,500+ level, and one at the $5,000+ level.