San Salvador, El Salvador Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from San Salvador, El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador 05/03/18

academia britanica cuscatleca

School Website

http://www.abc.edu.sv


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent of 3 kids at the school.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

They are now in 7th/9th/11th and we are in our second year here or a 3-year tour.

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

USG

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Yes, there's an American school. French and German school as well as some other Bilingual options. We chose the British school because we felt it was more diverse and definitely more hands-on as they use an international primary curriculum for younger grades and an IGSCE and IB program for older kids. They look at the student as a whole and teach them to be global students. They encourage students to be (ROCs) Responsible, outstanding citizens. We felt it was more academic but also just really liked the attention to each student we received from the headmaster and the teachers when we arrived and toured the school. They were very accommodating when we transferred over in the middle of the 2-year IGSCE program. We also like that kids as young as 8th grade can pick electives they like such as drama and music etc. It seems more student-friendly for kids who like to learn in various ways. More hands-on.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

Yes. The website is extensive but if you email the admissions woman, Estefania you will get great help. Most kids have to do some testing depending on where they are coming from and their past schooling.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Very good. We went ahead of time to check out schools and ABC was very accommodating arranging meetings with various teachers etc (by far compared to other schools we looked at) when we flew in for a day of touring and appointments. Later when we joined the school, we again met and toured with the whole family and everyone including the principal was super nice and attentive. Made us feel like we were welcome at the school and they would help make it a good fit. During the first week there were Welcome meetings for newcomers to the school and to each grade every year. If you are not a good Spanish speaker, they will provide meetings in English as well or sometimes with translation.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A lot of communication for the older kids is directly between teachers and kids online nowadays. But anything we parents need to know is usually emailed to us from the admin offices. I also check with my kids daily to see if i am missing anything. And I will email the admin offices or a teacher in a minute if I want answers about something and usually get a quick pleasant reply. The embassy parents often whats app if we have a question too. Each grade has a 'den mother' who emails stuff (nonstop) so that's a good way to work on your Spanish and get info. Although I have replied in English as many moms speak English too.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

Yes, almost all schools require uniforms and ABC is no different. 9th graders and up need laptops most days. Musical instruments can be borrowed but to practice, it's best if you have your own. There is quite an active orchestra and performing arts program. There were a couple big field trips -international - offered to older kids and two of ours went to Europe with their history class...which was pricey but we felt a great learning experience. Many did not go so it was not a big deal. Other class trips are usually free or nominal.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

Teachers and Heads of Year are usually very receptive to helping students when there is a need. You have to reach out to them and encourage your student to do the same. There are college counselors and we are getting ready to meet with our personal counselor soon for my 11th grader. There's also a couple of teachers who are in charge of setting up PSATs and SATs and college seminars.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

Don't know of any 'daycare' per se but lots of after school activities for most grades.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Yes, nice library and updated books and they just had Book week last week with authors and book sales and costumes for favorite characters etc. Kids can borrow and are encouraged to read and there are awards for good readers.

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4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

Looks to be a very updated computer lab and new science and technology labs being redesigned this summer.

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5. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Lots of kids have laptops in middle and high school and use them during school and from 7th grade up. Some teachers provide homework online and in google docs.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Gym, nice big pool, playing fields, basketball courts etc. They offer golf off-site and also scuba.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Maybe 15-20 in a class? Some less. Some classes like 'gringo Spanish' have like 5 or 6.

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8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

IB is offered and is highly respected and students must complete the diploma if they are here for 11th and 12th grade. My kid is doing that now. Tough but impressive for college applications.

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9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

Students are challenged from what we have seen and heard. It is known as the more academic school in the area. Kids can be moved up or down depending on their level in Math and English. No problem. There are several 'sets' or levels for all types of students.

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10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

My kids don't geta ton of homework. Only when they have project or before an exam do they seem to have to hit the books hard. Or work on the weekend. Most of the time it's just an hour of something. (IB students have more)

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11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Lots of music, orchestra, rockband, choir, " 11th grade dance performance called the 'circus' drama/musical shows, digital video contests etc.

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12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Most teachers speak English and the kids have mostly British teachers. There are a couple of teachers who don't and it can be challenging at times for some but an interpreter can be arranged if it's an issue.

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13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Not sure and have been meaning to ask about it but the curriculum is challenging for all my kids so I haven't been worried.

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14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I don't know a lot about this but I know it has improved over the years. There are counselors for kids with disabilities and various levels of instruction. I would inquire directly with ABC and not listen to what others may have heard. The school tends to offer a lot of attention to students' needs so I would guess there are services in place.

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15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I think most of the school is handicapped accesible.

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16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Most kids at the school are Salvadoran and English is their second language so there are English classes available and tutoring.

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17. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

Lots of offerings, swimming, soccer, basketball, track, music, drama, film and animation and several academic clubs, Orchestra/lessons, etc. My kids have done a bit of it all.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

My three kids have different levels of socialization with local kids. My middle kid has tons of Salvadoran friends. His Spanish is now the best! Even though, they all speak English well. My eldest has gotten his groove this second year and has many friends both Americans and Salvadorans at the school. My youngest (12) has mostly gringo friends but a few Salvadoran friends. But he is the shyest. His Spanish is pretty good now too.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

We haven't seen any bullying at the school. On the soccer field, like in other Latin American countries, the competition is fierce and not particularly welcoming at the older ages so if your kid wants to play soccer he just has to go for it. The kids are very good. Other than that ,there have been no issues. We know other gringos who have lots of local friends of all ages and sexes so it depends on your kid.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

A-. Would def choose it again.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

We would encourage new parents to check out all schools And not go immediately to the American school because they think they know the American system or where their sponsors' kids go or whatever. Every school in every country is different so it's important to check them all out. And I would say not to be afraid of the British system. It's really an international system and encourages a global student. We have met a few families at the embassy who have actually changed schools after assuming they would be most comfortable at the American school but learned later they weren't and others who said they wish they had switched after they saw what ABC had to offer (more hands-on, performing arts programs, IB etc) and its way with its students and its values.

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San Salvador, El Salvador 11/14/16

Academia Britanica Cuscatleca (ABC)

School Website

http://abc.edu.sv


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

Parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

4, 6, 8. The kids also attended for grades 3, 5, and 7.

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3. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government

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4. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

Yes, there are several good schools in San Salvador. Over the years, embassy families tend to send the majority of kids to either the American school or the British school. When we arrived two years ago, most families sent their kids to the American school. We chose the British school because we liked the curriculum and approach to education better, because it was somewhat smaller than the American school, and because we thought our kids would have more opportunities to learn Spanish. We also heard reports that other schools place heavy emphasis on homework, even at young ages. We have been very happy with our decision.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

Yes.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

This, I think, is one of the school's weakest points. We were unprepared for the difficulty our older children had making friends. As a third grader, the youngest made friends readily because friendship at that age is based mostly on physical play. But the older kids' friendships needed to be based mostly on communication . . . in Spanish. Their Spanish simply wasn't good enough to make friends with locals at first, and the local kids are so content with their current friends that although they were nice, they just didn't make much of an effort to befriend my kids. Even my gregarious 5th grader struggled to make friends--that had never happened to him before.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

Fantastic. There's a weekly newsletter, and teachers can easily be reached by email. All of the staff and administration have been very responsive whenever I've contacted them.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

My 8th grader occasionally needs to bring in a laptop from home, but students who don't have their own laptop can borrow a school laptop. Starting this year, almost all school materials are included in the cost of tuition (especially in the lower school). Uniforms are provided by parents, but the cost is reasonable. Field trips cost extra, but again, it's reasonable.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

We used personal counseling for help with getting my kids more integrated socially, but it didn't seem to helpful. My oldest child's head of year made great efforts to integrate my daughter, but it just didn't work for her. I don't know anything about the academic counseling resources.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

I think so, but I don't know anything about costs.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

Yes, both the upper and lower schools have well-appointed libraries. The books are new and nice, and students can borrow them to read at home.

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4. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

Great. Yes, there's a computer lab.

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5. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

Swimming pool, gym, and lots of play area on the fields.

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6. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

I think it's about 20-1.

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7. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

IB. I'm not sure about the requirements, but I think that almost all eligible students at ABC at least attempt the IB diploma.

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8. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

Yes. I have been really, really impressed with the competence of the teachers--especially math, geography, and science teachers. In the lower school, the curriculum incorporates art and music and involves lots of active, physical, child-directed learning. I absolutely love it. In the upper school I understand that the art teachers are not very good (not good enough to inspire my artsy daughter, anyway). But the music program is probably better than that of any other school in the city.

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9. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes. Lower-school students have an assignment once a week maybe, and they are asked to read daily. Starting in about 6th grade, homework starts feeling heavier. My 6th grader does maybe 3-4 hours of homework a week. My 8th grader does 5 or 6, maybe.

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10. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Orchestra, strings ensemble, choir, piano/guitar, drama, visual arts, film making, etc. Foreign languages include French, English, and Spanish

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11. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

Yes. Not all of them are very good at it though. My kids struggle to understand some of the teachers.

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12. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I'm not sure. My kids are generally at the top of their class academically, and when the teachers feel that they need extra challenge, they provide it. I haven't had any problems or concerns about this. My kids seem to be appropriately challenged.

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13. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

I know there is some support for disabilities like dyslexia, but I can't speak to their quality. I know of some students who have ADD/ADHD, but again I don't know how they're handled at school. The parents of those students seem happy enough. In general, schools in San Salvador are not very good at handling kids with serious disabilities.

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14. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

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15. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Separate classes for speakers of English as a second language take place during the native-Spanish classes. These are offered daily or twice daily. I have been happy with my kids' Spanish teachers; the first year we were here, the kids took Spanish classes twice a day, in groups of 1-4 kids.

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16. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

Tons, and they're all free! My kids have taken archery, wall climbing, sewing, cross-stiching, track and field, rugby, Minecraft world creation, choir, crochet, and others. Some of the extras they haven't participated in include swimming (ABC has the best swim team in the country), underwater (diving) games, basketball, cricket, Catholic religion, Chinese, bicycling, golf, movies, homework hour, cooking, math games, science experiments, etc.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

It depends on how good the expatriates' Spanish is. The lower Spanish skill they have, the less they socialize with locals. This can be a real problem socially if there aren't many expats in the school while you live here.

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

Last year my oldest daughter didn't make any friends. At all. But I think that was mostly because of her own social immaturity and her so-so Spanish. This year her best friend (an expat) moved into the school, and with that added confidence boost, she has made dozens of friends and is having the best year of her life. Even during her first year here, the local kids were very kind to my daughter and made many efforts to befriend her. The language and cultural barrier was just too much for my daughter.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

A. We would absolutely choose it again.

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2. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

I really believe that school administration has everything to do with the kind of experience you have at a school. Right now the ABC has some fantastic administrators in both the lower and the upper schools. I have heard other families say that the previous administration was much more difficult to deal with. Always check out the administration when you're making your school decision. This administration seems very responsive to parent concerns and is just generally competent.

Also, consider the length of your stay here. The British school is a great option if you will be in San Salvador for several years and are likely to continue with the British system afterward. Especially as kids get older, the system is more differentiated from the American system, so if you're going to be in El Salvador for only a year or two and then go back to the US, it might be better to stay with the US system (American school). Adjusting to the new system takes some time, and there are inevitably gaps in what the kids have/haven't learned. That said, we came from a mostly American system and will go back to a mostly American system next year, and I don't for a minute regret putting my kids in this school for two years.

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San Salvador, El Salvador 10/05/11

Colegio Los Robles

School Website

http://www.colegiolosroblessv.com/index.php


Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

parent

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

3-5

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3. During what years were you affiliated with this school?

2007-2009

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

USG employee at Embassy San Salvador

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

A, Los Robles is very clear on the website regarding admissions and were clear in their communications to me during the process

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

A+, we felt very welcome and appreciated the efforts by the staff to reach out to us to let us know how our son was doing

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. Describe the general climate of the grade level that you teach or your child attends:

Very productive! Los Robles is a small school, but very focused on the needs of each child. Colegio Los Robles is the "little school that could", and we loved our experience there. After being in a gigantic "American School" at a previous Latin American post, this is just what my son needed. The drawback is that the school is half-English language, half-Spanish language. My son arrived speaking so-so Spanish, but with extra tutoring the first year he quickly excelled and left the school speaking, reading and writing fluent Spanish.

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2. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A (excellent) to F (unacceptable/terrible) and provide comments:<br><br>Overall fair and equitable treatment of all students and families:

A, My son was only one of a handful of expat students, but was never made to feel different or singled out.

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3. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

A, really great effort made by the staff to inform me when there were issues and productive parent/teacher conferences

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4. Services for gifted students who need academic challenge and students with learning difficulties:

A, My son excelled in math and science. The school created a separate curriculum for him to work one on one with an instructor a few days a week then with a high school class once per week when he was just in fifth grade.

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5. Availability and variety of after-school activities for various ages:

C, Los Robles is a very small school, which limited the possibilities for electives and after-school activities

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A, Los Robles' administration were very clear about their standards for student performance and conduct, and students all seemed well aware of what was expected of them

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A, not too much, but challenging. Great project work for science fair!

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8. Administration-parent communication:

A, same as teacher-parent communication

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A, my son loved the small classes and the several one-on-one sessions each week

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10. Academics, answer the following questions "yes" or "no" with an explanation if appropriate:<br><br>Are there any classes or subjects where students are not appropriately challenged?

This is not the school to learn U.S. history!

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11. Does your child receive any special-needs assistance or instruction at this school? If yes, what types? Who provides services and where:

My son received advanced math and science instruction in the form of one-on-one sessions with a teacher and then interaction with high school math and science classes. The first year he also received one-on-one sessions with the school counselor twice a week to ease the transition from his previous school.

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12. Do you believe the special-needs assistance is appropriate and fills your needs? Explain:

Yes, and appeared to be far more expansive than what was offered at Escuela Americana at the time.

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13. Does the gifted and talented program meet the needs of students? Please explain:

Yes, because the school is so small they are really attuned to the individual student's needs and have the flexibility to customize the student's schedule accordingly.

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14. Does the school offer a wide variety of elective or non-core classes such as art, music, and drama?

They did offer music appreciation and art, and had a couple of big school-wide productions each year. But the size of the school did limit the options.

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15. Please describe any classes or programs that you believe are missing:

none

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16. Are there academic requirements such as trips or other activities that cost money in addition to school fees?

There were a few local field trips, inexpensive

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

Sports, after-school clubs

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18. Have your children participated in the activities offered? If no, please indicate why:

n/a

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19. Does the school provide appropriate assistance to new students?

YES! The advantage of being in a small school was that no new student was ever lost in the shuffle or left to find friends amongst students who had all already been together many years.

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20. Please describe any problem areas or challenges in social interaction at the school:

Older kids who have little or no Spanish-speaking ability would find it difficult, the recess chatter was almost exclusively in Spanish

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

A, also great. After struggling at a big "american school" the two previous years, my son had some behavioral issues the first year at Los Robles. They very quickly identified a strategy to help him transition and then kept me in the loop with his progress.

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2. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

B

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3. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

B

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4. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

B

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5. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

A+, very small school, with 5-10 students per grade.

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6. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

B, I believe Los Robles offers IB courses but my son was in elementary.

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7. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

Yes

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8. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

C, Los Robles is a very small school, which limited the possibilities for electives and after-school activities

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9. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

The school is taught half in English, half in Spanish. They do have an English language class as well as a Spanish language class. Math and Science were taught in English, most others in Spanish.

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10. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

Yes, math and science, provided by instructors (one-on-one).

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11. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

There are a few, but again the size of the school limited those opportunities

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Yes, my son made a lot of very close local friends at this school

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2. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

NO. School standards were set high and bullying was not tolerated in any form. The kids really seemed to love the school and positive environment set by the administration.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The administration and small size

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2. Greatest challenge?

Lack of resources/ after-school activities, also due to its small size

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Absolutely. We left San Salvador a few years ago but my son still raves about Los Robles. I'd encourage anyone headed to Salvador to seriously consider it as an alternative to Escuela Americana.

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