Why One School Group Dominates U.S. News and World Report’s High School...


Why One School Group Dominates U.S. News and World Report’s High School Rankings

Apr 24, 2017

NATION’S TOP HIGH SCHOOLS: The BASIS Charter School Network is putting Arizona on the map, taking up four of the five top spaces on U.S. News and World Report’s National Best High Schools Rankings.

Founded by two economists, Michael and Olga Block, the network boasts having a 21st-century curriculum with a highly-focused use of technology. “We use technology to help us solve problems of scale, to help create the connective tissue that joins a network of schools into an integrated system with data-driven quality control and the sharing of best practices,” reads the network’s website.

Despite its top performance on the rankings, the education group has been heavily criticized for lack of transparency and “student picking,” problems critics say are prolific in many charter schools. Several outlets, including the Washington Post and the Arizona Daily Star, have also noted that the school network doesn’t have a transportation or free lunch program—things they cite as serious barriers to entry for low-income students.

But what is putting the network on the map? One thing that might be giving them the edge is their AP test graduation requirements. According to BASIS’ 2014-2015 curriculum, students have to take at least six AP test their senior year in high school and pass at least one of them with a three or more in order to graduate. The number of students taking AP tests is a new indicator that US News and World Report as introduced as a “tiebreaker” to put one school in front of the other.

EdSurge reached out to the BASIS Charter School Network for comment, and there was no response.

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