Why do BASIS Curriculum Schools use Advanced Placement (AP) Courses?

The BASIS Curriculum requires students to demonstrate mastery of basic concepts and skills across all core disciplines, so that they can apply their knowledge in new and complex contexts. While both AP and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs prepare students to demonstrate such mastery, the AP model better fits BASIS Curriculum Schools’ vision of teacher autonomy. Through AP, we can empower our educators to provide instruction and assess learning in the ways that match their expertise and fit their students’ needs.

Unlike most high schools, which allow students to take only the AP classes they’re interested in, BASIS Curriculum Schools require students to take AP courses in all core subjects. While IB is similar in requiring students to take advanced classes in many subjects, the BASIS Curriculum allows students the freedom to take a variety of APs to meet our requirements: for example, students may pass their AP Lab Science requirement by taking AP Chemistry, AP Biology, or AP Physics (and many students do more than one). Students develop their interests in the subjects they love while maintaining a rigorous course of study.

Many colleges and universities (even those outside the United States, but certainly within) accept AP courses and AP Exams for credit, allowing students to skip introductory courses and proceed more quickly toward their desired course of study while in university. This flexibility allows families to spend less on undergraduate study, so good grades in high school become an important investment in students’ futures.

In the BASIS Curriculum, AP courses are not restricted to upper high school grades like IB. This allows for flexibility and acceleration in our younger grades: middle school students take a rigorous course load of high school courses; students are thus extremely well-prepared for AP courses in early high school. This allows them to take research-heavy Post-AP and Capstone courses later; IB does not offer these opportunities for college-level study. Our students can graduate with courses such as Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Inorganic Chemistry, Roman Culture and Literature, French Philosophy, Human Pathology, Contemporary American Literature, and so on. Taking such courses showcases our students’ diverse interests and offers them an opportunity to experience authentic scholarship in those fields.

Ultimately, all schools want to prepare their graduates to succeed in an information-rich, globally-connected 21st century workplace and to be admitted to the college or university that is the best fit for each individual. College admissions are competitive, however. The BASIS Curriculum offers the best opportunity for students not only to demonstrate mastery of advanced content in AP like many of their peers, but also to take courses that allow them to stand out in the admissions process for developing their intellectual passions.