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Five of the nation's top 10 high schools are Arizona charter schools

CLOSE Five of the nation's top 10 high schools are Arizona charter schools
Five of the nation's top 10 high schools are Arizona charter schools

According to U.S. News and World Report, Basis Scottsdale is the nation's top-performing high school. Mark Henle/azcentral.com

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Hemanth Yalahanka works his final presentation during class at BASIS Scottsdale, Ariz., on April 25, 2017. (Photo: Mark Henle, The Arizona Republic)

PHOENIX — Five of the nation's top 10 high schools are in Arizona — and they're all branches of the same charter school .

According to  U.S. News & World Report , BASIS Scottsdale is the nation's top-performing high school, followed by BASIS Tucson North and BASIS Oro Valley. BASIS Peoria and BASIS Chandler were ranked fifth and seventh, respectively.

The rankings consider students who exceeded state standards, graduation rates and college preparedness, according to U.S. News .

Two additional Arizona charter schools, along with two "special function" public schools, made the top 100.

Arizona was one of the earliest adopters of charter schools in 1994, and it continues to be at the forefront of school choice. However, the state has some of the lowest  school funding  and  teacher pay  in the U.S.

State leaders used news of BASIS' high education rankings to tout a new school funding plan that would reward high-achieving schools with additional per-student funding.

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Rigorous curriculum, limited seats

For the past several years, BASIS schools placed near the top of the annual rankings, but this year marks the first time BASIS captured the top three spots.

"It's especially wonderful to say we're three of the top three. It's great to be that highly ranked," said BASIS.ed CEO Peter Bezanson.

Bezanson said the secret to success lies in recruiting the best teachers and giving them teaching freedom.

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The schools follow the College Board's Advanced Placement standards, and students are expected to take — and pass — AP tests. The average BASIS student passes 11 AP tests by graduation, Bezanson said.

BASIS operates 18 schools in Arizona, varying in offerings from kindergarten through 12th grade. A vast majority of BASIS high-school students started with BASIS in middle school or earlier, Bezanson said.

"We do a great job preparing kids in elementary and middle school," he said. "Almost no one transfers into BASIS in high school."

There are no entry requirements or exams to get into a BASIS school — just a game of luck. An annual lottery determines which new students are accepted.

Already, BASIS schools have received 15,000 applications for 1,000 open spots for next school year, Bezanson said.

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'Our school isn't for everyone'

All of BASIS Scottsdale's 82 high-school seniors graduated last year, and all of them took AP tests.

Kristen Jordison, BASIS Scottsdale head of school, said the students' success is owed to the teachers, nearly all of whom hold a degree in the subject area they teach, which adds "content knowledge and excitement."

Only a limited number of students can attend BASIS Scottsdale, and the demographics of students there don't match the demographics of those attending other Arizona schools.

According to last year's Arizona Department of Education data, more than 80% of students at BASIS

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Where to find the best pizza in every U.S. state (and Washington D.C.)

Pizza. One of America’s most genuinely loved foods, whether enjoyed late at night from your favorite takeout spot, or in a nice restaurant specializing in versatile pies.

The U.S. is home to several different types of pizza across the states, with thousands of different joints covering the country. Here’s a list of some of the best pizza you’ll find in each state in America, so get your travel plans (and your tummy) ready, and bookmark this page for your next visit to each of these locations.

Alabama: Post Office Pies

The joint , which, hence the name is housed in a historic post office, features wood-fired pizzas that pair excellently with a wide selection of local craft beers. Each pie is made from fresh ingredients, from the slab bacon on The Swine to the roasted cherry tomatoes on the Margherita.

Alaska: Moose’s Tooth

Only in Alaska would you find a pizzeria joint with a cute name like Moose’s Tooth . This well-known spot in Anchorage offers a plethora of gourmet pizzas including Meatball Parmesan, Southwestern Taco, Wild Mushroom, and Shrimp Fiesta, which features fresh, local seafood. The only problem you’ll have at the Tooth is deciding which pizza to get.

Arizona: Pomo Pizzeria

Pomo’s delivers handcrafted, authentic Neapolitan style pizza, starting with the dough, which is made from flour imported straight from Naples, Italy. Their fresh slices are made up of signature Italian flavors formed together in their hand-built wood ovens constructed from volcanic sands from the coastline of Italy. If you can’t afford to fly to Italy to get yourself a slice of pizza, this is sure to be the next best thing.

Arkansas: DeLuca’s Pizzeria Napoletana

DeLuca’s is home to authentic Napoletana brick oven pizza made with the finest ingredients they can get their hands on. Their classic Margherita pie is topped with fresh mozzarella, Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, homemade tomato sauce, and fresh basil.

You can also add a variety of additional ingredients to any pie, including gourmet Calabrese pepperoni, homemade fennel Italian sausage, naturally grown portobello mushrooms, and hot cherry peppers from Texas. If you ever find yourself at this joint, I’d recommend just adding on everything for the full, delicious experience.

California: Sliver

Sliver delivers not only good ass pizza but a social mission to bring awareness to the issue of modern day slavery. Their restaurant brings together the diverse community of Berkeley, California over fresh and delicious pies that are loved by all. Every day they feature a different pizza, combining ingredients like fresh corn, roasted Yukon potatoes, Bulgarian feta cheese, and pesto that pack happiness in every bite. What’s not to love?

Colorado: Beau Jo’s

Beau Jo’s features true “Colorado style pizza”, which yes, I guess is apparently a real thing. Their signature Colorado style pizza uses honey in the pizza dough, which is then braided and piled high with 1 to 5 pounds of sauce, cheese, and fresh toppings. They get their nickname “mountain pies” because they are indeed huge, not to mention very, very tasty.

Connecticut: Frank

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