Spotlight on BASIS DC

This post is sponsored by BASIS DC. We hope you enjoy learning about one of DC's top-performing public high schools!

Located in the heart of downtown DC’s Penn Quarter and drawing students from every zip code in the District, BASIS DC sets the standard in academic achievement for metro area public schools.

Although relatively new—the school opened in 2012—BASIS DC has already garnered many accolades, earning spots as both a Tier 1 public middle school and the District’s top-performing Tier 1 public high school, with a score of 97.3 percent in the high school framework—the highest score ever earned on a DC Public Charter School Board School Quality Report.

BASIS DC’s commitment to providing students with a world-class education is apparent in every facet of the school. Take one step inside a classroom and you’ll immediately find yourself immersed in a wholly new education model: one that willingly opens its doors to a diverse range of students and demonstrates that, through the BASIS Curriculum model, any student who is willing to work their hardest can achieve great things.  

Strong Foundations

BASIS DC Charter SchoolIn order to reach their full potential, students must first have a solid framework to build their talents upon. That’s where BASIS DC comes in. Through the accelerated, well-balanced BASIS Curriculum, each course builds upon skills acquired in previous courses, further enhancing students’ mastery of the material.

“Although our courses can be difficult at times and require a lot of hard work, it definitely pays off,” says junior Tristan H. “I’ve already made honor roll many times, gotten fives on multiple AP Exams, and earned a bronze medal in Science Olympiad.”

With its AP standards–based program and Subject Expert Teachers, the school thoroughly prepares students for college. In fact, BASIS DC’s 2018 graduating class had a 100 percent four-year university acceptance rate and earned an average of $220,000 in scholarship awards per graduate. Although the expectations are high, the school provides exceptional outcomes for students who are willing to work their hardest to meet its standards. However, that doesn’t mean they are left to tackle the demanding curriculum alone; all BASIS Curriculum teachers are thoroughly invested in their students’ academic success.

“There’s a common misconception that BASIS DC’s rigorous coursework may not be accessible for all [students],” says English teacher Calvary Cooper. “However, I firmly believe that we are a school for any student who wants a challenge and is willing to work hard, and that it’s my job as a teacher to make the content accessible.”

Teachers that demonstrate a willingness and enthusiasm to help their students, in turn, give students the confidence to persist in their studies and gain true mastery of the content.

“Throughout my entire time at BASIS DC, I haven’t had a single teacher who wasn’t concerned with my academic success,” says junior Tylena P.  “They always make sure that I understand the material, and when I don’t, they are always there to help me out.”

This sentiment rings true throughout the student population at BASIS DC, demonstrating just how committed the school is to seeing students reach new academic heights.

Strength of Character

BASIS DC - Building Strong Foundations

Just as BASIS DC prepares students for college through its academic program, it prepares them to be ethical citizens by emphasizing character development. 

“College and career goals are only a subset of our broader hope for our son,” says Tony Axam Jr., BASIS DC board member and parent of junior Jonah. “We would like to see him develop the ability to think critically about the world and have the skills necessary to solve problems and create a positive life for himself.”

BASIS DC brings character to the forefront by demonstrating how it seamlessly intertwines with academic success. The school also focuses on developing the student as a whole person, continuously presenting them with challenges and opportunities that foster character growth. This includes one of life’s toughest lessons: how to fail.

“In class, students are not always expected to succeed the first time—or even the second time—they attempt a task, but they are never allowed to give up,” says AP European and Art History teacher Philippe Seiler. “This way, they learn that making mistakes, even after working hard, is a fundamental part of learning.”

Character is also built through experiential learning projects. BASIS DC recognizes that some of the most important lessons students can learn take place outside the classroom, so students are encouraged to apply what they learn in real-world situations.  This was the case for 2018 alumna Hannah D., who after studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth in her AP Literature class, decided to intern at the Folger Shakespeare Library for her Senior Project.

“In the beginning, it was hard for me to form my own opinions because I was surrounded by so many different viewpoints,” says Hannah. “But over time, I was able to form and defend my own views while still taking others into account.”

Hannah’s AP Literature class not only inspired her to pursue her passion for theatre, but it also helped her develop greater flexibility and open-mindedness, and gain confidence in her own ideas.

Embracing Diversity

BASIS DC - Embracing DiversityHistorically, lack of equal access to education has hindered some of the brightest and most motivated students from enrolling in schools that will challenge them and nurture their academic growth. BASIS DC’s team of dedicated teachers and administrators aims to reverse this trend by sharing the BASIS Curriculum with a more diversified population, bringing together students of different races, ethnicities, genders, backgrounds, and socioeconomic standings.

BASIS DC’s commitment to inclusivity embraces the belief that, aided by the BASIS Curriculum, a set of highly skilled teachers, and the right amount of motivation, all students can realize their potential for success.

“We appreciate that BASIS DC is such a diverse school and gives the same opportunity to receive a high-quality education to every student that’s enrolled. At BASIS DC, students can expect to do well and succeed when they apply themselves,” says Axam.

On an academic level, being part of a diverse community creates a more enriching classroom experience, as students become exposed to a wider range of perspectives. However, the spirit of inclusivity that pervades throughout BASIS DC goes beyond academics, creating a sense of belonging and community amongst students.

“It’s invigorating to see students absorbing so many different topics in class and actually discussing them during their downtime, while adding in their own cultural experiences as a reference,” says Cooper.

This inclusive environment not only strengthens students’ academic potential, but also teaches them to be compassionate, accepting individuals.

At the heart of BASIS DC is an unwavering commitment to putting students first. Guided by expert teachers and the BASIS Curriculum, students quickly become self-motivated workers that draw deeper meaning from their courses and gain valuable life skills that will help them succeed in a globally competitive workforce.

Looking for More on BASIS DC?

Stop by for a tour of the school or schedule a visit with the BASIS DC team!