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BASIS Scottsdale students work in a lab a few years ago. The BASIS Scottsdale campus earned the No. 5 ranking in the 2013 U.S. News & World Report list of best high schools nationwide. BASIS Tucson earned No. 2.

Jacob Chinn/BASIS Schools

With BASIS Ahwatukee finishing up its first fall term, the administration has decided to add fourth grade for the 2014-15 school year.

Administrators have already informed parents with the idea of expanding to a fourth-grade level during an informational session for those with third-graders who are interested in enrolling their child for next year.

Currently, BASIS Ahwatukee offers fifth to 10th grade, housing about 520 students.

John Hillis, head of school, said for the first time in 16 years BASIS has almost created something it never thought possible, integrating a kindergarten through fourth-grade school.

“For the fourth-graders they will start with 90 minutes of humanity with a mixture of English and history, then they go into the literacy center to do different projects and enter a 90-minute period of math and science,” Hillis said.

Fourth grade will have a big emphasis on reading and writing.

The first BASIS school to try this new academic design was BASIS Tucson. As a result of its success, BASIS representatives have been touring different BASIS schools to see if they can meet the requirements of adding another grade level. Both BASIS Ahwatukee and Mesa were approached about the idea.

Preparations for creating another grade level at the school seems to be an easy process for Hillis and his team, considering they will be bringing in 120 fourth-graders next school year.

“The big difference in what the fourth-graders are doing and what the fifth-graders are doing. In fourth grade there will be two teachers in each classroom,” Hillis said.

BASIS instructors are not certified in teaching, but all teachers are experts in the field the are teaching.

For fourth grade there will be a subject expert instructing the class as well as an instructor who has certification in secondary education and follows that particular group throughout the school day.

For more information about BASIS Ahwatukee, visit

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