Upper School Program

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College Prep Upper School Grades 8-12

The BASIS Independent Upper School Program, grades 8–12, is widely recognized as one of the most academically advanced private high school programs in the world. Our graduates are routinely accepted to top universities around the world, from Harvard and Stanford to the University of Oxford. Our graduates are distinguished individuals who will have gone through a world-class college preparatory course of study including a full year of economics in grade 8, a plethora of AP course options electives, and in-depth college counseling experience which prepares them to excel in college and beyond. Like the BASIS Independent Middle School Program, the Upper School Program challenges students to reach the highest international benchmarks and holds students accountable for mastering subject material. The acceleration of the curriculum allows BASIS Independent students the option of graduating after grade 11; however, most students choose to continue their studies in grade 12 so they can participate in two profoundly influential aspects of the BASIS Independent Upper School program: Capstone Courses & Senior Projects.

For a list of the courses required in Upper School, see our course list.

Grade 8 Curriculum Detail

Eighth grade acts as a transitional year for students who have completed the BASIS Independent Middle School program and are preparing to enter high school. These grade 8 students continue to build their knowledge base with a wide variety of rigorous courses, including a full year of introductory-level Economics and the chance to enroll in advanced electives like Environmental Science, Computer Science or Psychology, which are aligned with the AP curriculum.

The Learning Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP)

Although BASIS Independent Schools provide a rigorous and accelerated program for all students, there are some students who are ready to move even faster in certain disciplines. In order to give these students the chance to move ahead to more challenging courses, and in order to further develop the advanced nature of the BASIS Independent curriculum, we provide LEAP courses in select grade 8 core disciplines: science and English. LEAP students must apply for entry to the course, obtain a recommendation from a teacher of that particular subject, and maintain an acceptable overall academic record.

Grades 9–11 Curriculum Detail

BASIS Independent McLean offers an advanced, liberal arts and STEM-focused curriculum that is among the most interesting and rigorous in the country. The curriculum asks students to work hard to reach their academic potential, offers the assurance of comprehensive benchmarking and expert teaching and holds students accountable for their own success. Students are challenged to think critically and develop intellectual agility.

The innovation in the BASIS Independent Upper School Program is that we set clear, transparent exit criteria and then work backwards through the academic program to set rigorous but attainable checkpoints along the way. Thus, our students do not fall through the cracks and feel genuinely supported and guided in their studies.

NEW SCHOOLS NOTE: During its first several years, BASIS Independent McLean will implement modified course requirements and course offerings for students in grades 6 and higher. For students in grades 9–11, these modifications include, but are not limited to, the offering of certain AP courses and exams.

Grade 12 Curriculum Detail

Typical high school curricula end at the AP level—after all, these courses are meant to substitute for introductory-level college courses. However, the advanced nature of the BASIS Curriculum allows us to offer a variety of even more rigorous and intellectually innovative courses to our students. The final academic challenge of BASIS Curriculum Schools is not AP exams. Instead, students are able to enroll in Capstone Courses and participate in a Senior Project. Our Capstone classes are the most in-depth content of which a BASIS Independent student can partake. There is no private school in the nation that offers a Senior Project program quite like ours. Read more about Capstone Courses and Senior Projects, both of which make the senior year at BASIS Independent Schools a deeply intellectual finish to our robust, rigorous program of study, unmatched at any institution in the nation.