The BASIS Curriculum
The BASIS Curriculum, refined for over two decades, educates students to the highest international levels
What does it mean to prepare students for a world they haven’t yet experienced?
This question drives the continual optimization of our well-rounded, globally benchmarked BASIS Curriculum—which has been inspiring mastery and excellence for two decades, and is the foundation of our network of schools across the country and around the world. The teachers, administrators, and staff at BASIS Independent Schools provide students with a world-class education that equips them with the deep content knowledge, keen organizational skills, and autonomy needed to achieve whatever they set out to do. Ultimately, the BASIS Curriculum prepares students to be participants, not spectators, in the dynamic and unpredictable world of 21st century innovation. We fundamentally believe in setting a high bar for students and supporting them as they work through advanced coursework towards mastery. Because of our liberal arts and sciences program and the expert teachers in each of our classrooms, BASIS Curriculum students are positioned to be positive contributors on a global scale. They garner the experience necessary to face the unknowns of the future with adept problem-solving and ingenuity, and grow to love learning and the pursuit of deeper understanding. Our learning community knows: with great challenge comes great reward.
THE BASIS CURRICULUM
Discovery and Foundation
Age 2 – Kindergarten
The Early Years curriculum (Age 2 – Kindergarten) encourage early learners’ natural propensity to question, to create, and to discover. We create an enjoyable, intentional learning experience rooted in early literacy and numeracy. Coursework centers around giving students tools to understand the world around them. Our Discovery Blocks of Learning curriculum exposes students to everything from social studies to self-care skills, mathematics and Mandarin, to expressive arts. Teachers with expertise in early childhood education (or related fields) facilitate opportunities for children to thoughtfully and purposefully interact with materials, use their imagination and creativity to inspire questions, and use their own reasoning skills to learn from and connect to the world around them.
Kindergarten builds on the love for learning instilled in PreK to lay a strong foundation for success in the years to come. Success for us means not only the acquisition of foundational concepts and skills, but also the adoption of scholarly habits and immersion in a culture which values learning above all other endeavors.
Together, The Twos, Pre-K, TK, and Kindergarten form our Early Learning Program. Students in the program are taught in the same classroom throughout the day by two teachers, with specialists that join the class for specific content instruction.
Teaching to Learn
The Primary Years curriculum emphasizes the connection between students’ seemingly discreet subjects of humanities, math & science, engineering, performing arts, music, Mandarin, fine art, and physical education. Students even have a dedicated weekly 85-minute period called “Connections,” a scenario-based, hands-on learning experience designed to fuel creativity, ingenuity, and social skills like team work and patience.
Starting in grade 1, students move from class to class and have two teachers present for nearly all subjects. A different Subject Expert Teacher (SET) specializing in a particular discipline leads instruction of content for each subject. The students’ Learning Expert Teacher (LET) guides them to each class, focuses on effective pedagogy, and co-teaches with each SET. Because the LET remains with the same element of students throughout the school day, they are always there to aid in the scholastic and social development of students, and lead progress monitoring, parent communication, and delivery of enrichment or support.
LETs and SETs facilitate a rapid transition from a focus on foundational skills and knowledge to independent thinking, active learning, and application of knowledge by emphasizing connections between disciplines and reiteration of key concepts throughout the curriculum.
From Concrete to Abstract Thinking
Students are taught exclusively* by Subject Expert Teachers (SETs), many of whom hold advanced degrees. Student support takes on a variety of forms, from student hours and one-on-one support with Deans to the independence cultivated in the Primary Years that inspires in students a greater sense of responsibility for their education.
The grade 4 curriculum differs from the Primary Program in the following: the spiraled curriculum features classes that are 50 minutes long, with humanities breaking into English and history, and math & science also taught separately. In grade 5, Academic Enrichment is introduced, offering students time during the day to approach teachers with questions and work independently on homework. In addition to core disciplines, coursework includes classics, two science classes, and Latin.
Together, the Bridge Years transport students from their foundational years to an intermediate program focused on mastering basics necessary for an advanced curriculum. Students prepare for the cadence, rhythm, and challenge of the curriculum to come. Instruction focuses on attaching abstract thinking to concrete thinking: students transition from reading comprehension to interpretation, from data collection to data analysis, and from mathematical calculation to mathematical reasoning.
*There is an LET in grade 4 at our campus. However, the LET in grade 4 is not present with students in every class and is particularly focused on building independence and self-reliance as students prepare for grades 5 and up.
Knowledge as a Tool
In the Intermediate Years, students complete a rigorous schedule in all core disciplines, including three separate, concurrent science classes (physics, chemistry, and biology), economics, foreign language, and a course in logic. Students can choose an elective beginning in grade 6 and a foreign language option in grades 7 and above. The spiral of the curriculum is essential and highly apparent in these grades, particularly regarding the revisiting of concepts in the sciences in greater depth with each passing year, as students prepare for entry into Honors or Advanced Placement® (AP) level coursework starting in grade 9.
Subject Expert Teachers (SETs) partner with Deans and Directors of Student Affairs to ensure students are set up for success in coursework not typically seen at the middle school level. Students take advantage of student hours and witness the impact of being prepared and developing good study skills for their education. While self-advocacy and executive functioning skills are emphasized in all grades throughout the BASIS Curriculum, they are of particular focus in the Intermediate Years to prepare students for study in one of the most advanced high school programs in the country.
Upon seeing knowledge as a tool, students learn that amassing skills and facts is a step toward the more creative thinking required of the college-level coursework they will tackle in high school.
Thinking for Problem-Solving
The world-renowned BASIS Curriculum in the High School Years is unmatched in breadth and depth: we offer students unprecedented exposure to high-level content and the creative, critical thinking opportunities typically reserved for university-level studies. Under the guidance of passionate Subject Expert Teachers who are deeply invested in their success, students gain the best possible preparation for college and hone skills and habits that stay with them long after graduation.
In core disciplines, Honors is the minimum level offered, with a large percentage of courses taken at the Advanced Placement® (AP® ) level. Many schools reserve AP® courses for their top performers’ final years in school, but we require AP® coursework—six AP® exams and seven AP® courses—of all students and make them available starting in grade 9. Students further develop their ability to think and work independently in post-AP® courses and independent research projects. They also participate in a year-long, daily college counseling seminar in their senior year designed to help them find the right school and prepare their applications.
The senior year culminates in a three-month, off-site Senior Project, proposed and constructed by students under the guidance of an internal faculty adviser and an external professional specialist in the field of the student’s choosing. Students apply their academic content knowledge in a professional or research setting and demonstrate individual accountability and a facility with problem solving. BASIS Curriculum graduates leave our program prepared to be leaders in college and beyond.
LEADING THE WORLD IN MATH, READING AND SCIENCE
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an exam given to 15-year-olds around the world to evaluate critical thinking and applied knowledge in math, reading, and science.
Student performance on this exam is a point of great pride for our communities—it speaks to the power of our program and the dedication of our teachers. Our schools are helping shape the future of education—a future where students build lasting bonds with teachers, learn at the highest international levels, and become active, contributing members of their communities.
“Students support each other . . . and they celebrate their own successes and the successes of one another.”
Early Learning Teacher
“We feel when our kids discover and understand that all of the subjects . . . are related, it aids in their understanding of the world.”
BASIS Independent McLean
“… we want the students to be actively involved in the learning process and to learn to become inquirers.”
Psychology & Math Subject Expert Teacher
“One thing that drew me to BASIS Independent Schools was how much emphasis they put on fine arts subjects.”
Art Subject Expert Teacher
“The greatest thrill for me as a teacher is when students take ownership of their education and feel comfortable exploring topics that spark their interest.”
Math/Science Subject Expert Teacher
“My kids are challenged by the curriculum and love the school.”
BASIS Independent Brooklyn