America’s top public charter school network wasn’t founded as a “network” of schools. Rather, BASIS was founded in 1998 as one small campus in Tucson, Arizona, with the vision that students there should be able to learn at the same high level as students in the most auspicious classrooms in the world’s best schools in Europe or Asia. The concept was simple: raise the bar to challenge students to meet higher and better standards, and students will rise to the challenge, meet the challenge, and exceed it. Challenge them with a world-class curriculum that would be welcomed by educators at any top institution worldwide, taught by teachers who are experts in their subject area and given the creative and academic freedom to teach their students in the manner they think is best, and you have the simple secret sauce behind the first BASIS Charter School – and every BASIS Charter School campus since.
The educators at BASIS founded one school in 1998, with no stated intention to open a second. However, the success of BASIS Tucson (which is now called BASIS Tucson North) catalyzed the clamor for a second campus, and BASIS Scottsdale opened in 2003. We call those two campuses our “Legacy Schools” – and together, those pioneering students, families, teachers, and staff laid the foundation for the acclaim to come. Excellent student outcomes were apparent from the outset. Advanced Placement courses and exams were a part of the network’s academics from the beginning because, since our curriculum was so outside of the norm, educators wanted an outside arbiter – such as the respected College Board, purveyors of the AP program – to attest to the student outcomes. High national rankings were first earned in 2006 and have continued every year since.
The dawning of our exponential growth began with our third campus in 2010, and new campuses opened annually thereafter. BASIS launched its first campus outside of Arizona in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., in 2012. The first Texas campus was introduced in San Antonio in 2013, and BASIS welcomed students in Baton Rouge in 2018. Having served only middle and high school students in grades 5-12 initially, K-4 students began attending the BASIS Charter School primary campuses in 2013 – the first to experience our lauded model in which we embed not just one but two teachers in each classroom to double student support, and thus student learning, to reach the academic heights of the 5th through 12th graders. In the 2023-24 school year, as we mark our 25th anniversary overall and 10th anniversary in Texas, the 39 campuses in the BASIS Charter Schools network are among the best in the United States, whether assessed by state or national rankings, state testing, OECD/PISA scores, AP courses and exams, college admissions, college merit aid earned, or any other measure.