By Brett Graham, DC school HUB Correspondent Today, private schools are seeing a shift backed by research on how students learn best. From that research new schools are establishing themselves to push the needle in a much needed new direction. There are a few schools newly established or on the horizon of opening that are testing the traditional and even progressive models of education. Over the next several weeks we will continue to highlight some of them, including Blyth-Templeton Academy, Fusion Academy, and Acton Academy. Today we will focus on BASIS Independent McLean. Walking up to the front doors of BASIS Independent McLean, one cannot help but think that awesomely smart stuff is going on inside. Then when you run into Head of School Sean Aiken, you know it to be true. With a look that screams wacky, fun-loving professor and a pedigree to back it up, Sean is the face of a new generation of top school administrators. More from Sean in a minute. The BASIS.ed model that created BASIS Independent McLean was the brainchild of Dr. Michael and Olga Block, two economists who felt that the American education system lacked challenge and adequate rigor. The result was the creation of BASIS Tucson Primary in 1998 located in Tucson, Arizona. Since then the BASIS.ed brand has spread across the United States with 16 charter schools and 4 other BASIS Independent schools. The brand’s McLean location opened this past fall in 2016 accepting students age 3 up to grade 10. It will add grade 11 and 12 in subsequent years. The ideal schools size is 800 students. That’s a tall order for a school in such a competitive marketing. In an exclusive interview with DC school HUB, Sean Aiken talks about how they see themselves as different from other area schools. “Our goal is to provide an educational experience that allows our students to perform at the highest international levels, and as not all of our neighbors use those same metrics of evaluation, sometimes it’s difficult to compare. That said, our curriculum is enriched with challenging content in both the liberal arts and sciences and as we grow we look forward to continuing to evolve to meet the needs of 21st century problems." A source who works at an independent school that will compete with BASIS Independent McLean for students, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “You’re darn right we are watching this closely. Our school has a projected 80% plus overlap with who we serve and where they live. Certainly we will see many applicants also applying to BASIS [Independent McLean]. Others are more skeptical of the future of the school. A quick look at our favorite gossip website (who we trolled for weeks until they banded us) has a lot of parents leaving because the school is too rigorous. The longevity of the BASIS.ed model has yet to be tested. Will it last in the DC area or will it be seen a short-term fad? Time will tell. To learn more about BASIS Independent McLean click here.
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