Today we consider kids precocious if they can launch a start-up in college, but BASIS Independent Brooklyn, a private K-12 school opening this fall in Red Hook, believes students can achieve great heights and pursue their big ideas before they even leave high school.
BASIS.ed is synonymous with rigorous coursework. In eighth grade, students delve into a full year of introductory-level economics and have the chance to enroll in advanced electives such as environmental science or psychology. The BASIS Independent Schools’ curriculum undoubtedly has a strong STEM focus, but in truth they’re just returning to the roots of a well-rounded education. (“The original ‘liberal arts and sciences’ was made up of seven disciplines covering the full spectrum of knowledge,” BASIS Independent Schools communications director, David Schulz, points out.) Students are required to take an array of courses in history, language, literature, science and math, but also have their choice of advanced electives in subjects ranging from computer science to digital photography.
Another way that BASIS.ed motivates and challenges its students and teachers is through its unique use of AP exams as final exams. Students within the BASIS.ed network of schools need to complete at least six AP exams to graduate—though most take an average of 10 by their junior year. This gets students up to college-level work more quickly, ensures that they master their subjects fully, and sets a solid benchmark. “It standardizes and professionalizes the accuracy by which we can judge our students’ and teachers’ achievements,” says Schulz.
In their senior year, the focus on classroom learning shifts to self-directed learning, as students take capstone classes like Organic Chemistry, Quantum Mechanics, and Game Theory—subjects most students don’t begin to crack until the middle of college. They are also encouraged to pursue senior research projects, which they blog about and often team up with corporations, entrepreneurs, agencies, and researchers to produce. “The Bard and Bollywood: How Theatrical Costuming Changed from Europe to India” and “Chutes, Ladders, and Numbers: A Mathematical Analysis of the Game Chutes and Ladders” are just two examples of past projects that show the range of inquiry BASIS Independent Schools’ students are capable of.
Independent, self-reliant scholars stand out on college applications. These qualities, says Schulz, are also ones “that college professors immediately recognize in their students and cater to. We tend to think our type of preparation creates the kinds of students who feel comfortable sitting in the first row.”