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Arizona Basis charter campuses lead list of best high schools in US

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX — A charter-school system with campuses all over Arizona claimed six of the top 10 spots, including No. 1, on a highly regarded list of best public high schools in America.

Basis Schools took the top five spots on U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings, released Wednesday. The Scottsdale campus was No. 1, followed by Chandler, Oro Valley, Tucson North and Flagstaff. Basis Peoria was No. 8.

Basis Scottsdale also came in second among best STEM high schools.

Four other Arizona schools made the top 50: Basis Phoenix came in 14th; Gilbert Classical Academy was No. 20; Tucson University High was No. 27; and Tolleson University High was No. 29.

Schools were ranked based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepared students for college.

Peter Bezanson, chief executive officer of Basis, said his charter schools excel in these rankings because of students’ performance on Advanced Placement exams and state assessments.

He told KTAR News 92.3 FM that Basis, which had four of the top five in last year’s rankings, prepares students for those tests from kindergarten through eighth grade.

“The fact that we do well at the high school level, and the fact that our high schools are really highly ranked, is really a validation of the curriculum, the program and the super qualified teachers that we have throughout the whole program,” Bezanson said.

Basis has 22 campuses in Arizona, half of which cover the high school level. It also has three schools in Texas and one each in Louisiana and Washington D.C.

U.S. News teamed up with RI International, a North Carolina-based nonprofit social science research company, to compile the rankings.

The initial field of 28,813 public high schools was cut down to about 20,000. That group met criteria that included enrollment size, particularly for 12th grade, during the 2015-2016 school year.

From there, a four-step process was put in place that looks at students exceeding expectations in their states, underserved students’ performances, graduation rates and preparation for college-level coursework.

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