BASIS Shavano School Profile

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Do you have a middle school or high school student who is looking for a challenge and has the drive to be successful? Do they want to express their individuality, but are also willing to tackle homework and tests? We recently toured BASIS San Antonio Shavano Campus and would like to share with you some essential facts about the school as well stories that offer a deeper dive into the school culture.

BASIS Shavano is part of the BASIS Charter Schools network, which includes some of the highest performing schools in the United States and the world. On October 23, 2019, BASIS Texas Charter Schools began accepting applications for enrollment for the 2020–2021 school year; open enrollment continues through December 16, 2019. Learn more about how to enroll your child at BASIS Texas Charter Schools in our recently published BASIS Charter Schools Enrollment Guide.

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you are in the process of doing a school search. We recommend that you read this post about finding the right schools. We also suggest you download the San Antonio Charter Schools app and join the San Antonio Charter Moms discussion group on Facebook. We recently published a school profile of BASIS San Antonio Primary Medical Center Campus; also, in 2017, we published a school profile about BASIS San Antonio Primary North Central Campus.

Facts About BASIS Shavano

BASIS San Antonio Shavano Campus serves grades 6–12 on a built-from-the-ground-up, modernist campus at 4114 Lockhill-Selma Dr., San Antonio, TX 78249 (map). Starting in 2013, BASIS San Antonio students in fifth grade through high school attended BASIS Medical Center (2013–2017) and BASIS North Central (2014–2017). In 2017, those buildings were remodeled to serve younger students. In 2017–2018, BASIS Shavano operated out of rented space in the Castle Hills area. In August 2018, the current campus in Shavano Park opened, as we reported in this post about the ribbon cutting ceremony. The school website is basised.com/san-antonio-shavano; you can reach the front desk by phone at 210-874-9250. The Head of School is David King, and he led us on a tour of the school.

BASIS Charter Schools began in Arizona in 1998; in 2012, BASIS Texas Charter Schools applied for a Generation 17 charter. They have plans to grow, but currently, there is a cluster of three campuses in San Antonio: BASIS San Antonio Primary Medical Center Campus and BASIS San Antonio North Central Campus (also K–5), which both feed into BASIS San Antonio Shavano Campus (6–12). 

All three are open enrollment public charter schools, which means they don’t charge tuition, there are no selective admission requirements (unlike magnet schools), and they are open to all students—including special education, 504 plans, and English language learners. The enrollment area for BASIS Texas Charter Schools covers a wide swath, including the entire San Antonio metropolitan area and other parts of central Texas.

Our BASIS San Antonio Charter Schools Enrollment Guide has more details, but here are some key dates for enrolling your student at BASIS. The best time to apply online is during open enrollment, from October 23, 2019 to December 16, 2019. All applications received during open enrollment have an equal chance of receiving an offer through the random lottery, which will be held on January 14, 2020. Applications received after open enrollment will go on the waiting list.

Last year, BASIS Shavano had about 1,050 students across seven grade levels. In sixth grade, there is capacity to enroll all the fifth grade students from both feeder schools, BASIS Med Center and BASIS North Central; that could be as many as 240 students, although some students will who move or transfer to different schools. Siblings of current students have priority when enrolling. As we will explain more below, the course sequence at BASIS is different, so students in higher grades who are applying to BASIS Shavano should seek advice about bringing over their credits from other schools. Head of School David King invites prospective students to attend a shadow day to experience BASIS Shavano for themselves.

BASIS Shavano School Report Card

The latest official school report card shows that BASIS Shavano is a high performing school. The campus earned six out of seven distinction designations:

  • Academic Achievement in Science
  • Top 25%: Comparative Academic Growth
  • Academic Achievement in Mathematics
  • Post-Secondary Readiness
  • Academic Achievement in English Language Arts/Reading
  • Academic Achievement in Social Studies.

Here are the school’s ratings: 

  • Overall Performance: A (97)
  • Student Achievement: A (98)
  • School Progress: B (88)
  • Closing the Gaps: A (96)

As a district, BASIS Texas Charter Schools earned a grade of A, as you can see on the district report card. For information about how to interpret Texas school report cards, visit A–F Resources.

BASIS Shavano Curriculum and Teachers

BASIS Charter Schools offer a content-rich, liberal arts curriculum. BASIS has a reputation as a STEM school, and it’s true that they offer advanced math and science classes, but they also have strong offerings in literature, history, art, music, and drama.

Head of School David King began our tour by saying, “We are a school for anyone. We are not a school for everyone.” What that means is that BASIS doesn’t keep students out, but some students may try it and then decide that it is not the right fit for them. 

Andrew Freeman, Executive Director of BASIS Texas Charter Schools, explained: “A lot of programs that have a curriculum that’s this rigorous have some sort of a gatekeeper, [for example] STEM and magnet programs and those academies that are operated in other schools.” By contrast, BASIS is an open enrollment charter school, so any student can apply, and seats are filled by lottery—not a selective admissions process. 

Once students are enrolled at BASIS, they have a lot of work to do. The BASIS curriculum is accelerated, and there are checkpoints along the way. In grades 6–8, students take comprehensive exams (known as comps) at the end of each school year. Comps are a big part of their final grades in their courses, and they must pass comps to advance to the next grade level in school. Students take midterm exams called pre-comps to track their progress. Because BASIS has a fun-loving culture, there is an “I Survived Pre-Comps” dance to celebrate.

BASIS is an AP school: students are required to take at least six AP exams. The average student takes 11 AP exams, and some take more. A student’s AP exam score is factored into their final grade in the class; for example, a student who gets a 5 on their AP exam automatically gets an A in the class. Because the school requires students to take AP exams, the school covers the cost of all the AP testing fees.

Students who come to BASIS Shavano from a BASIS Primary school (such as Medical Center or North Central) have already learned some important skills. They have practice using a planner—called a CJ, short for Communications Journal—to keep track of their assignments and tests. They have experience with note taking, study skills, and test taking. They also have a solid foundation in reading, writing, math, and science, and they have begun learning Mandarin and Latin—languages that they can continue to learn at BASIS Shavano.

BASIS middle school students start taking classes that other schools might only offer to high school students. For example, students in grades 6–8 take courses in biology, chemistry, and physics every year. Then, in high school, they choose which science they want to take first—biology, chemistry or physics. Let’s say they choose to start with biology; here is a potential track:

  • 9th grade: honors biology
  • 10th grade: AP biology and honors chemistry
  • 11th grade: AP chemistry and honors physics

If a student chooses to start with physics in 9th grade, they can take multiple physics AP classes, for a total of as many as five or six AP science classes.  

In addition to science, other subjects also have accelerated offerings in middle school. Seventh grade students take Algebra I and the high school end-of-course (EOC) assessment. Observing that 97 percent or more of BASIS Shavano seventh graders passed a high school EOC assessment, King said, “That’s the whole philosophy of BASIS: if you push your students and really challenge them, they’re going to rise to the occasion.” Similarly, 8th grade students at BASIS take the high school U.S. History EOC assessment, typically taken by 11th grade students.

BASIS offers electives in foreign language, fine arts, and STEM. In sixth grade, all students take Latin; in seventh grade, they can choose to continue Latin, or switch to Spanish, French, or Mandarin, and continue that track through high school. In sixth grade, all students take a fine arts elective: band, strings, choir, drama, or art. Beginning in seventh grade, students can also choose STEM electives like computer science or robotics.

Twelfth grade is a different experience. By the end of 11th grade, students have completed their graduation requirements and passed many AP exams—with an average score of 3.35 out of 5. In the first two trimesters of senior year, students take capstone courses with topics that sound like advanced college courses: game theory, engineering math, multivariable calculus, 20th century pop culture, history of the modern Middle East, history of world religions, and forensic chemistry. In their third trimester, they work on senior projects, often in partnership with universities or businesses.

Seniors also have a class period to work on college applications and meet with college counselors. A lot of time and energy goes into helping students get acceptances and scholarships at selective colleges and universities. King said, “Last year we had 72 graduates, including three early grads who were 11th graders. They had over $15 million in scholarship offers and about 500 college acceptances.” BASIS Shavano does not rank students in high school, but many students were still able to earn offers to top tier public institutions like The University of Texas and Texas A&M University. Follow the BASIS Shavano Facebook page for posts about members of the Class of 2019 as they transition to college.

In addition to rigorous curriculum, BASIS Charter Schools are also known for hiring teachers who are experts in their fields. It’s not uncommon to find teachers who, before coming to BASIS, earned an advanced degree in their field, worked in that industry, or taught at the college level. They dive into their work and earn the students’ respect, whether by dressing up as historical figures or going deep to answer students’ questions about physics and engineering. BASIS Shavano has teachers who are leaders in the BASIS Charter Schools network for developing curriculum, as well as teachers who help develop AP exam questions. A fundraising drive, the Annual Teacher Fund, raises money to pay teachers bonuses based on factors like success in helping students pass comps and AP exams, high attendance, and supporting school culture through coaching sports, chaperoning dances, and advising clubs.

The BASIS Charter Schools curriculum is ambitious, and it takes a special group of teachers to present it to the students. It takes family support, too: as King said, “Coming to BASIS is going to change your family dynamic a little bit.” 

School Culture at BASIS Shavano

As you can see from BASIS Shavano’s school calendar for 2019–2020, the school year started on August 15, 2019 and will end on June 5, 2019. BASIS Shavano does not offer transportation services. The school day has staggered start times:

  • 6th: 8:00 AM (0th period) to 3:15 PM (1st dismissal)
  • 7th: 8:55 AM (1st period) to 4:10 PM (2nd dismissal)
  • 8th–11th: Depends on whether students choose AM or PM electives
  • 12th: 8:55 AM to 2:25 PM for 1st and 2nd trimesters; off campus for 3rd trimester for research projects and internships

The school offers child care before and after school. Families can drop off as early at 7:00 AM and pick up as late as 4:10 PM. The fee-based after school program is called Late Bird; it runs as late as 6:00 PM. 

For sports, BASIS Shavano is part of the Texas Charter School Academic and Athletic League. In recent years, the school has competed in sports including flag football, volleyball, cross country, and soccer. The mascot at BASIS Shavano is the dragon, and the school color is light blue. For extracurricular activities, teachers propose a variety of clubs that students can sign up for, including band, strings, choir, drama, yearbook, literary magazine, film, robotics, rocketry, chess, Science Bowl, Mathcounts, Physics Olympiad, eco club, adventure club, Asian culture club, Spanish society, and French club.

BASIS Shavano offers students an opportunity to express their individuality while tackling challenging material. They get to learn from teachers who are experts in their fields. Succeeding at BASIS takes hard work and family support. Students who commit to the BASIS program will get a high quality education that opens doors for them in college and as their follow their passions in life. 

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