Amman, Jordan Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan 09/15/19

International Community School

School Website

https://www.ics.edu.jo/


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?

6th

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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)?

Work/ USG

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

Roughly 75% of the parents choose ACS, but the enrollment at ICS continues to increase which should cause people to do some homework before deciding. We went with ICS because of the more international feel and acceptance of a larger variety of students. Not to mention uniforms (YAY!), great after-school programs, and a more flexible approach to accepting different types of learners.

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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. They are great.

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

It's great. They really do a good job- even interviewing each and every kid by skype for a follow-up.

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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?

There is a lot of communication. Sometimes parents feel that it is overkill, but I like that it errs on the side of too much. I sift through what I think is important and leave the rest.

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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?

We buy uniforms (no big deal), pay for some of the after-school activities, and some field trips.

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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?

Amazing counseling resources. They are immediately on top of social issues (bullying) if/when problems arise. They are quick to nip things in the bud and follow up on any problems.

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

There are after-school programs. You can even sign up for two back-to-back if you want.

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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. Good library.

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

School encourages use of ipads for some activities but it is not mandatory. We eventually let the ipad go to school understanding that. The teachers seem to lock them up during some of the time during the school day.

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

They are good. Yes.

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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?

Yes. Building a pool. Big playing fields.

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

14-1 maybe. Often there is an asssitant in class, too. So, my ratio might not be right.

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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?

Absolutely. Love the European history bits, too. I don't like common core, so, I'm not sad that my kids avoided it.

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

Yes. A lot of the lower school just has homework "options." ICS tends to say that going grocery shopping with parents is education, and they want kids to play after school instead of being boggled down with homework. I've noticed a slight increase in homework this year, but I think it's to be expected. There is still some freedom of what to choose from a list of options FOR homework, and I like that.

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

Love the individual music lessons added this year. Good plays. Good art classes. My kids even worked with stained glass last year.

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

Yes.

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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 think that the classes cater to all types of learners.

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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.

Amazing services for even the slightest learning disability. ICS is extremely welcoming and helpful.

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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.

Pretty sure that they are welcoming.

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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.

Good services from what I hear.

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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. Basketball, cooking, bike riding, drums, etc.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?

No idea. You can ask.

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2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?

AMAZING! If your kids has *any* type of learning need, definitely go with ICS.

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

Yes! This is what I like about ICS also. My kids are friends with both international and local students. You rarely see ACS kids hanging out with local kids. There is a big divide.

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4. 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.

Nope! Love it.

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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. Yep!

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

Overall, it's a great school. I would definitely choose it again. Do your homework on the schools before sticking your kid into the school where everyone else goes.

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

It's a British system, and one thing you should know is that parents don't just "pop in" during the day to go have lunch with their kids. I thought this was a little strange coming from an American school the previous year, but I got used to it and accepted it. At the end of the day, I like the mentality of the British system that says, "drop off your kid, and we'll take it from there." It seems like there is less drama, fewer problems, more inclusion, etc. because the school takes care of it in the nurturing environment. We love ICS and do not regret for a minute that we chose this route. Do your homework.

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Amman, Jordan 11/18/18

King's Academy

School Website

http://www.kingsacademy.edu.jo/


Background Information:

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

A parent of a child attending 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?

Last year she was in middle school, 8th grade, this year in high school, 9th grade.

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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)?

Husband works at the Embassy

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

Yes, there are other schools available. The youngest two go to ICS which is also great. We chose King's Academy for its amazing high school.

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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. It is very clear, and the standards are high.

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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+ + + + +. King's Academy, modeled after the King of Jordan's alma mater, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, goes over and beyond anything required of them. I would say that with the support is also an expectation that the child do his or her best in all areas: academics, sports, co-curricular, and community service. The whole person is developed in ways that other schools simply can't compete with: Daily sit-down meals with advisors and their students is one example. It really is a "prep" school. My daughter's advisor, for example, is a graduate of Yale. You just don't get that at other area schools.

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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?

Communication is really good, but I have noticed that there is a shift of the high school student becoming more and more independent, so, the parents are less involved. And that's OK. I like that!

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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?

One uniform comes with the tuition of the school, but you need to provide your child with khakis and white button-down shirts. You should provide your high schooler with a laptop, but the middle school loans them to the students. Musical instruments can be on loan, and field trips are included. We haven't had any abroad experiences yet with King's, but there might be some traveling involved with sports teams and Model UN. I'm just not sure.

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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?

Yes! My daughter has not had to utilize the school counselor much, but we have another daughter who will soon transition to King's, and I will have more to say about the counseling since she "checks in" often. To my understanding, there are actually three high school counselors dedicated to college counseling. If the graduates of King's Academy have good standing, they can basically go anywhere they want. That's the school's reputation, and I believe it.

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

N/A. King's Academy is for grade 7-12.

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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. It's great! It's a beautiful library with many books and not too many bells and whistles.

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

Yes. Yes. King's Academy goes over and beyond in all areas.

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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?

High schoolers need their own laptops. Middle schoolers borrow a laptop. Technology is integrated into the classroom in a very supervised way. The teacher will say, "Laptops closed" when he/she wants all eyes up front. (Picture most classes with kids in their blazers and ties around a table in a business-like setting. It's great!)

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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?

Great gym. Amazing pool. Huge fields, tennis courts, and even (ahem) the "King's riding stable" if you fancy horseback riding for an after school activity.

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

10 to 1. Very small classes with students seated around an oval table for discussion-type classes.

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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?

Amazing AP opportunities.

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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?

My daughter is only challenged by the curriculum. Foreign languages are taught in target-language only, for example. At the other international schools, I'm sorry to say, Arabic is a joke. At King's Academy, Arabic is a *must,* and kids are expected to learn and function in the local language. Even though math is not my daughter's strong suit, the teacher has already given her a vision for reaching AP calculus by senior year. King's Academy somehow pushes and inspires these kids to do more than they think they can. It's amazing. She also likes art and aspires to take AP studio art next year as a sophomore. She has learned so much about art this year including photography. The kids sign out a fancy digital camera that they bring home with them for homework assignments.

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

Yes. But it is a challenge. Our daughter sometimes wakes up at 6 a.m. to finish her homework, but she takes her academics seriously.

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

One of the reasons we chose King's Academy over other international schools in the area was the fact that there is a high school orchestra. Not every school has one. She plays violin (although we joke that she is an "eternal second violin," she's up on stage)! She's in the high school musical, and we have already touched on the visual arts in a previous question.

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

Yes. Amazing staff from all over the world. You won't find the caliber at other schools.

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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.

I would say that your kid should already be gifted/advanced even to apply to this school (We have a range of needs in our family, but a couple of our kids fall into this category. They are academic and need to be pushed).

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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 think that King's would be the school for your child if he/she has learning disabilities. That being said, there are accommodations to students in wheelchairs with cerebral palsy, but I can't speak to anything else. We have a younger child with ADHD, and ICS is the perfect fit. Other families say the same. I wouldn't put a kid with any type of special needs at ACS. We were told at a tour "if there was space" for our kid with ADHD, so we didn't even bother applying. Also, a friend's pre-schooler did not "get into" ACS. Are you kidding me? What is this? Harvard? So, they chose ICS.

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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.

There are accommodations to students in wheelchairs and other physical disabilities. I can't speak much to the academic disability part, though. You can ask the school.

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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.

There are definitely services available, but the student should already have a very, very good command of English before applying to the school. That is my understanding, but you can ask the school for more information on that.

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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?

orchestra, guitar, drama, photography, volleyball, horseback riding, swimming, tennis, basketball, etc. etc. etc. There is so much. My daughter has enjoyed orchestra, the school play/musical, volleyball, and swim team.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?

The Middle East is not the friendliest of places for the LGBT community. That being said, there is a a respect that is demanded at school for differences.

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

YES! It is a must. There are different socioeconomic levels among the students also. There aren't really "cliques" so to speak.

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3. 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.

None.

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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++++ King's Academy is an elite boarding school that draws from many areas of the globe. My daughter has classmates from both rich and poor areas of Jordan, Honduras, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Korea, Kuwait, the US, etc. It really is a "prep" school where parents become less and less involved, and the children become more and more independent.

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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!

You will be out of pocket for King's Academy (the Embassy pays about 75% of the bill), but it is well worth every extra penny you can spend for your child if he or she is a little more academic than the average Embassy family. We feel that it is worth the investment with what she gets in return. The faculty are the best of the best from very high-level universities, and it is evident upon first look at the school. We are moving our daughter from a day student to a week-day border because she has really excelled in the academic climate and could use the week day to focus more on her studies. (We are cutting out the 40-minute bus ride which is doable, but our daughter has proven to us that she is ready for the week-day boarder life. It's crazy that I'm even writing this, but I am. Amazing school!!!!)

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Amman, Jordan 02/08/18

International Community School

School Website

http://www.ics.edu.jo/


Background Information:

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

Parent of two children.

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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?

Currently in grades 4 and 6 (Years 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)?

Husband works at USAID.

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

There are many international schools but most parents choose the American School. I think most just go with it since it's where 90% of the children go. We heard that there were other options so we decided to shop around. Our oldest (8th grade) goes to King's Academy, and elite boarding/day school in the area.

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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?

ICS is amazing, really. They did an incredible job interviewing and even following up individually with the children. They were very attentive.

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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?

We are so pleased with how ICS takes care of everything. I have barely had to do anything concerning "problems" at school. It's the first time in years that I have not had to go to school to raise a concern.

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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?

Uniforms. We love uniforms!! I think a uniform costs about 30 USD and we purchased a few.

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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?

Yes. My daughter checks in with the school counselor (from the U.S.) on a weekly basis to talk about "relationships at school" to help build good relationships.

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

There are a ton of after-school activities that go from 2:00 through 5:00 if you choose to take more than one. This is a great option for the kid who wants to be involved in a range of activities.

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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! There aren't many bells and whistles in the library, and honestly, I'm OK with that. There are plenty of books and computers for all.

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

Yes. Yes.

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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?

Having their own ipad is helpful because some of the reading is done on the ipad. There is some work done on the computer at home and assignments done by middle schoolers are submitted online. Elementary school kids don't use much technology at all for homework.

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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?

Lots of room for play. Swimming pool will be built soon. That being said, my son is on the swim team that is twice a week after school. Kids ride the bus there.

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

16:1, I believe.

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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?

I'm not too familiar with the upper grades. I think it is IB.

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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?

Oh my goodness, yes! I love ICS. They focus a bit more on European history versus U.S. (duh), and I'm learning along with my kids! My daughter was showing me videos of her chemistry experiment just yesterday, and she's not even in high school yet. I feel that the standard is higher than what we have experienced in the past at least for the younger grades.

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

The homework system is FANTASTIC! The teacher gives the students weekly homework assignments from which the students can DECIDE which activities to do. If they have 10 spelling words, for example, the student could write a story, create a crossword puzzle, or a mock test for another student. I love the way that students can choose what to do while the teachers still encourage the students to try different activities. Genius, really. And I don't have to keep asking every night if the kids have homework!!

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

Violin, piano, drum, and vocal lessons are offered after school. Drama is good. Visual arts are good. They are doing a unit on stained glass at the moment. Plenty of after school activities as well as activities included in the weekly school schedule.

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

Yes.

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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.

Sometimes students are placed in higher groups (like for math or reading) if they are ready. Our daughter, for example, started in the highest level of math and was moved down a level (oops!), but is working her way back up to the first level again. In that way, it's a little fluid, if you will, but it gives students a chance to move ahead.

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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.

Our youngest son has ADHD and is thriving. His teacher told me the other day that she figured out he preferred reading on the carpet on his back with his feet up in the air, so she joined him when giving him an assessment. I love that about ICS because I really feel (and see) that the teachers try to accommodate the children and their learning needs. Some have standing desks, some students have an aid in the room, etc. They are so accommodating that it has been unbelievable.

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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'm not sure, but please ask. I'm sure they accommodate.

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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.

Strong ESL program from what I understand. Such an amazing, truly international school!

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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?

Basketball, swimming, golf, fencing, biking (local bike company brings a truckload of bikes for the kids once a week. It was awesome- and ICS is a little bit more out in the countryside, so it is safe), netball, soccer, lego robotics, cooking, drama, drums, lots of music choices including violin and piano, choir, henna, origami, etc. etc. Such an amazing selection, and you can sign up for as many as you want. I'm happy to pay the fees. (around 25US for some of the activities per trimester.) I can't think of anything that is really missing at school.

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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! I love this about ICS. My daughter just had a birthday party, and her friends who came over were from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Korea, Australia, France, Sweden, Jordan, Canada, Germany...... Love it. It's truly an international school, and this is one thing we were looking for versus the local American 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.

Very minimal, and the staff is on it immediately. Some of the older kids were teasing my son about his name, and it was nipped in the bud. Amazing response.

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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+ ABSOLUTELY! I would recommend it to any American family looking for more of an international experience with a rigorous but welcoming and easy-to-understand curriculum. We would highly recommend from PK-8th grade (year 9), but we will transition to King's Academy (American system) for high school. I don't "not" recommend the high school, though. I think it's probably very good.

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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!

When you go to ICS, you will notice that it doesn't have the bells and whistles that other schools might have, but it has been the best choice for us at this post. Don't let other schools tell you that they only have "20%" Jordanians at the school because many children have US passports and were only in the US as a baby (so that they could get their US passport). I would shop around if you are trying to avoid rich, spoiled locals. With that being said, many families are happy with ACS, but I would just shop around for your own sake.

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Amman, Jordan 04/24/17

King's Academy

School Website

http://kingsacademy.edu.jo


Background Information:

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

Parent of a graduating senior who attended King's grades 10-12 (2014-2017).

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

US Embassy

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

We have younger kids at ACS and my son went their for grade 9 but it was not a good fit.

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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?

Very clear but also rather involved, including an on-campus interview. The admissions staff is very professional, felt more like a liberal arts college-type set up.

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

Pretty good. The key factor is that King's is essentially a boarding high school that tolerates a certain number of day students. Most of the welcoming/integration is geared toward the boarders to help them adjust to the experience and to develop that community. Some efforts with the day students but not much.

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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?

Quite good, weekly newsletter from the Head of School. Most communication is filtered through the student's advisor, a faculty member that is assigned a group of 6-7 students to watch over. As the kids are older, there is effort to work with the kids before going to the parents.

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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?

Uniforms, laptop deposit and some extra-curriculars but much is included, such as lunch and dinner even for day students who stay late. Kings does not put as much emphasis on extravagant international trips or sports tournaments.

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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?

An entire dedicated college counseling department, including a seminar during summer break before junior year to get a head start on essays, narrowing the focus of schools, doing the common application, etc. Kings excels here, living up to the self-image as the equivalent of a New England prep school.

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

Wonderful library building.

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

Laptops provided or students can use their own. Seems to be pretty well integrated. Good IT support.

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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?

Amazing facilities. Campus is laid out like a small college with lots of open space, a lower campus with full size track and soccer field, plus a large pool and weight room. Interestingly, there is no PE program or classes. Students have mandatory "co-curriculars" that take place in the afternoons that can include sports.

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

Largest class size was never more than 20, quite a few that are 12-15. Lots of interaction, with an emphasis on class discussion using "Harkness tables", oval shaped tables that make it so everyone can see everyone else.

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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?

Many AP class offerings.

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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, there are AP and Honors courses and generally an atmosphere of academic rigor.

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

A bit on the heavy side, there is a mandatory O block everyday that is essentially a study hall with additional study time in the evenings for boarders.

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

Top notch music program, including an annual piano performance showcase that includes all skill levels. Drama and dance are also prominent. Art studios have great resources.

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

Yes. Jordanians are probably 30-40% of faculty, good mix of other nationalities with maybe 25% American, including a fellowship program for recent college grads.

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

A lot of stairs but probably more accessible than any other school I've seen here.

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

A good number of students arrive with quite limited English proficiency. There is a program to get them up to grade level.

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14. 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?

Surprisingly, sports is not that big a deal here, breaking from what might be expected from the New England boarding school model. That is probably a good thing, there aren't really "rival" schools and culturally Arabs tend to view school for school and sports clubs for sports. As described, co-curriculars are required but include great options like rock climbing, ultimate, MUN, music, 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?

Breakdown is more among different nationalities as a big percentage are expats. There is also a divide between boarders and day students simply because the day students aren't around for the activities in the evenings.

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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.

Not really. There are some really wealthy kids but the school does a good job of equalizing everybody to the extent possible.

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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-. Some great teachers, a few not so great. Never felt like the Arabic program (required all years) was particularly well-structured or well-taught but that is not unique to Kings. Definitely fosters a culture of achievement and growth without becoming particularly competitive. Facilities are world-class.

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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!

Kings is expensive. Even if you are with the US Embassy, you will pay all costs above what is charged at ACS and that price tag went up significantly for day students beginning 2017-2018. The increase seems to be part of a not so subtle nudging towards more full-time boarders. Kings is about a 30 minute drive from West Amman but traffic is never that bad so it hasn't been a problem for us although it makes for a long day. Kings was the right choice for my particular kid, his personality and his interests.

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Amman, Jordan 08/08/16

American Community School

School Website

http://www.acsamman.edu.jo/


Background Information:

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

Yes, I am a parent of former students.

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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?

Grades K-3 (Jan. 2013-2016) and Grades Pre-K1-KG (Sept. 2013-2016)

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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)?

Spouse's work - Private sector.

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

Yes. This school seemed to follow the same curriculum as my oldest child's previous school, it was nearby, and it seemed friendly and welcoming.

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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?

No, the admissions process was confusing and challenging. It was unclear until a few days before the start of the semester whether or not our child would be admitted.

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

It was pretty good, considering that our child started mid-year.

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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?

From our experience, communication has usually been good or excellent between the teachers and ourselves, with only one exception in our four years at the school.



The communication from the administration, on the other hand, requires significant improvement. Our attempts to seek clarification on school policy, discuss issues concerning our children, offer constructive criticism where we saw areas which required improvement were often met with defensiveness and occasionally outright hostility, by both the principal and the superintendent.

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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?

There are some small additional costs, such as occasional field trips and voluntary contributions towards class parties/ gifts for teachers/ etc.

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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?

The elementary school had one counselor available.

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

No, not that I'm aware of.

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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, there is a library. The elementary library has a very small collection. Yes, students can borrow books to read at home, but the library has had some issues with being inaccessible to students, with my children having been turned away during the school day on several occasions.



To add to that, students from third grade up do not visit the library with their class on a regular basis, decreasing their exposure tremendously. Furthermore, books in the middle/ high school section were not made available to the younger elementary school kids, which limited strong readers in the lower grades in their choices.



Due to the lack of a clear protocol for returning books, multiple books that we had returned were later deemed "lost" and we ended up paying for books which later turned up in the collection.

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

Yes, the resources are good and up-to-date. The only criticism I have is that students from the third grade upward do not regularly visit the 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?

There is a gym and an outdoor playing field, which is covered in Astroturf. A swimming pool is under construction.

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

1-20 for grades 2-3
1-10 for grades Pre-K - 1

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7. 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?

No, I didn't feel that my child who finished at ACS in the third grade was challenged at all by the curriculum. From my experience, there does not seem to be much differentiation taking place in the classroom, so students who grasp the material easily are left unchallenged. The materials and the way they are presented and communicated didn't seem to cater to different learning styles.



In the Early Childhood Education classes, on the other hand, the curriculum seemed just right, with the focus being primarily play-based and building social competency.

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

From our experience, yes.

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

Music and Art.

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

Yes.

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

From our four years at the school, I don't believe the school is equipped for gifted/ advanced students. There was no placement testing and no gifted program, as far as we are aware. There seemed to be very little differentiation going on in the classroom, with teachers focusing the majority of their attention on maintaining discipline in the classroom rather than focusing on learning approaches.



In our four years at the school, our children were never offered a chance to compete academically, such as in a spelling or a geography bee, and there seemed to be no other formal recognition of students with advanced abilities, which might have encouraged them academically.

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

There is a learning support person and an assistant, who lacks formal training. Our eldest child was diagnosed with a physical need which impacts learning, and we requested support from the learning support office but were denied support and told, for over two years, that it could barely cope with its current intake.



We received a letter from the principal of the elementary school in the middle of the last academic year to inform us that the school would no longer be able to support our child's needs: our child would not be re-admitted for the 2016-2017 school year, despite the fact that we were fully providing outside support for our child (which amounted to approximately JOD 400 per month) with occupational and social therapy. Our feeling when we left was that the school is trying to bar students with any kinds of special needs from continuing at the school, as I was informed by the administration, my child's teacher as well as other parents, that there were similar letters to ours that went out.

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13. 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 many activities available, on a first-come, first serve basis. Bus riders could ride a late bus home after activities, which was a huge bonus.

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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, I think they are in the elementary 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.

Yes, there were instances of bullying with our eldest child. It was generally addressed by the counselor and the principal, but it still continued, to a lesser degree.

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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?

F. No, I would not choose this school again and I would not recommend it, particularly to parents with children who have different/ special needs. While the school has many wonderful teachers, the administration lacks effective communication and, in our opinion, integrity and professionalism. From our experience, there seems to be little to no oversight or accountability for decisions made by the administration, some of which seem to undermine the teachers and staff who work most closely with the students.

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Amman, Jordan 12/02/15

American Community School Amman

School Website


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?

3rd grade

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

This is our first year. We will be in Amman for three years

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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)?

Near the U.S. Embassy

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

They stated they could support our children's learning needs and it is near the Embassy.

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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?

We received nothing but an approval. We were very transparent and our concern was that our kids' learning needs could be met. They aren't.

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

Our children had a rocky start, mostly due mean spirited kids and non inclusive kids. There are a few great families here and once they navigated and made friends with children who respect each other, they did better. However, now 4 months in we are still trying to seek resolution to a child who continuously pounces, hits, pokes, and prods my children.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

The climate of this current grade level is out of control. The classes are approximately 20 kids per class with one teacher and one aide who supports all three classes. Each class has about half the children who need no extra support and half who have learning differences and behavioral issues that need support. The teachers appear overwhelmed and unable to support the class to create a consistent healthy supportive learning environment.

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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:

D-we are hanging onto our last thread with this school. The teachers are the only bright spot, if you are lucky to get a good one. The administration, the learning support team, and the counselors are unable to effectively support behavioral issues at this school which impact the classroom and students' education as a whole.

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

Excellent in our case.

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

My children receive learning support for learning differences and the resources include two people. It is highly inadequate for the needs of the school.

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

Lots

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

The disparity of ability is HUGE- one teacher can't meet that.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

appropriate

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8. Administration-parent communication:

The superintendent doesn't like to be bothered-but if you put up with his unwelcoming attitude then he will act. The principal understands the problems and sees them as long term. He is available and will talk to you.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

good in our case.

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

No-especially as there is a lack of transparency about what my child is doing in learning support. The coordinator has been unwilling to share what transpires.

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

Bullying. The school is trying to take a hard stance on this but it doesn't seem enough.

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Academics & Resources:

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

Library is minimal.

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

Seems to exist-at the elementary level our kids are using Ipads and have a technology time each week.

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

20 kids to one teacher. It is not good. IF your child can self advocate, stay focused despite lots of interruptions and disruptive children, and doesn't need any special attention....s/he might be fine.

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

in elementary they have art and music.

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

yes

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. 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.

Yes, many kids at the school have behavioral challenges and relationships are a big part of the drama at this school. Bullying exists even if the administration doesn't want to admit it.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The teachers-we got two really good ones and it is the only saving grace. But they are unsupported and often drowning.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Lack of resources for all the kids who need extra support-learning and behavioral.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

No. I think my comments make it clear.

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Amman, Jordan 09/28/15

International Community School (ICS)

School Website


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?

Children range from pre-school through 5th grade, or year 6 in the British system.

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

2012-2015.

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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)?

U.S. Government.

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

We chose the International Community School because we wanted our kids to have an international experience. ICS has over 65 different nationalities and only about 20-25 percent of the students are Jordanian. The rest are from all over the World. It seems as though every other embassy except the U.S. Embassy sends their children to ICS. The U.S. Embassy generally directs everyone to the American Community School, so you will have to look for ICS yourself.

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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?

Embassy kids usually get a spot. All embassy kids, not just U.S.

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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 receptive to new families. They have a lot of student turnover because of the diplomatic community. New students are integrated quickly.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

The school has a British feel to it because most of the staff is from the UK, although several are from Australia, NZ and The Netherlands. The education is in the British System, not the American. The learning environment is great. Small class sizes, dedicated teachers, good after-school programs. ICS is located outside of the city about 20 minutes from the U.S. Embassy in the countryside. The air is clean and the location clam.

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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:

Yes, completely.

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

OK and getting better. It really depends on your teacher.

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4. 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?

Not really, just the basics, uniforms and extra activities.

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

There is a gifted-and-talented program called GAT. This is an after-school club where the students who are selected for GAT gather together and work on various projects.

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

Great, a lot of activities for all ages.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

Yes.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

There is not a lot of homework, but enough to keep our kids busy. The primary school's reading program is fantastic.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

Could be better. There is a new head of school beginning in 2015, so this may improve.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

Very good.

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11. 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?

Yes, all my kids were challenged.

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

Yes.

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

Yes, the special needs program is one of the main reasons we chose this school. ICS was able to support our needs, but they cannot support severe needs. ICS is an inclusive school, so if your child cannot be included in the mainstream classroom, they may not be able to support him or her. The program is pretty good. It was the only option for special needs in Amman at the time.

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

More sports for girls, but this may be characteristic of the Middle East and not just ICS.

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

There are trips and after-school programs that cost extra money. It does get a little pricey.

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Academics & Resources:

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

Yes, decent.

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

Yes, very good.

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

Pretty good and getting better. ICS is a small school, so they are building. The do have several teams like soccer, swimming and basketball. ICS competes in the British Schools of the Middle East (BSME) games each year.

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

Max class size is 25. Typical size is 18-22. There is a one teacher and at least one aid in each classroom.

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5. 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?

There are no AP classes, only the GAT after-school club. No IB program yet, but ICS may be moving to it in the future.

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

Enough, but not excessive.

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

There are many after-school programs, from sports, to music and even a robotics club. The one downside is that the after-school programs can be a bit pricey.

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

Yes, most are educated in the UK, Australia, or NZ.

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9. 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?

Yes.

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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, all the time.

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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.

Very little, but there is always some of this. ICS takes bullying seriously.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Its diversity. We made friends from Jordan, Belgium, Japan, the UK, South Africa, and may other places. Our children made great friends.

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2. Greatest challenge?

The misconceptions: One is that ICS is an hour away from the U.S. Embassy. Actually, it is 20-25 minutes away during rush hour and 15 minutes otherwise. The second is that ICS is a "special needs school" and caters to disabled children. This is not the case.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, we all miss it very much.

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Amman, Jordan 08/19/15

American Community School - Amman

School Website

http://www.acsamman.edu.jo


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?

Elementary (grades 1 - 5), Middle School (6-7), and High School (9).

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

2013 - present.

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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)?

U.S. Embassy.

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

It is kind of the default expat school in Jordan for Americans. We did not consider other options until after the first year.

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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: good communication, clear standards and deadlines.

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

B: There is a nice "first friends" program in elementary, and an active PTA with a big back-to-school picnic. That's the last free thing you'll see, though.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

We have generally enjoyed the elementary and middle school experience. There are some great teachers, especially in the upper elementary grades.

High school was a different experience. Poor learning environment, lack of discipline and respect. Some good teachers but generally they seemed overwhelmed and lacked strong support from the administration. When we moved our son to King's Academy we asked him what he would miss most about ACS. He couldn't think of anything. Several other top students from his class made the same change and have been happier as well.

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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:

B+

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

A-: Parents get regular emails, and members of the staff are responsive to specific inquiries.

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4. 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?

Laptops, activities (paying to participate in Arabic culture night), yearbooks (mandatory), field trips, choir, school plays, ad infinitum.

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

C: Not much.

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

B: A wide variety but expensive.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

C+: There is a bit of philosophy of "let's get everyone through", especially for the Jordanian kids who might not have adequate language skills. In high school, only the self-motivated will really get a strong education.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B: some busy work but, to their credit, one grade level team decided to focus on reading and not assign any homework home beyond what was not completed in class.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

C: regular emails/blogs but the communication is pretty much one way. Staffing has been an issue throughout our stay at every level. Teacher gaps may last for longer than announced with no reasonable explanation of the plan.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B: Very poor at the HS level, better in lower grades.

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11. 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?

Yes.

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

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

Yes.

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

Yes, and everything here has a price tag. The consensus among expats is that wealthy Jordanians don't see something as worthwhile or valuable unless you pay for it, so ACS is all too happy to oblige them. I realize that we are quite well-off, relatively speaking, and the amounts don't break the bank. But it does get old.

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15. What activities do you feel are missing?

Track, swimming.

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

Some.

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

Yes.

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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-: There is a good counselor who intervenes quickly when needed and has developed good rapport with one of our kids who needed the support.

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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?

A-: The new "Learning Commons" is nice, but it is definitely a change from traditional libraries in that there are not as many books, but there is a nice environment nonetheless.

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

D: The school is very poorly managed. Older kids have free rein to surf the internet in class --- and even to use it on tests. The seem to be no standards, different teachers use different programs.

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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: Facilities are a bit limited (one small turf field and a gym; tennis courts on the roof). This should improve with the opening of new building next year.

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

B+: There are rarely more than 22 students to a class; elementary has classroom assistants.

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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: A lot of AP courses are listed, but I am not sure how often they actually happen.

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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)?

A-: Great drama electives involve a lot of students in a different ways. Kids like art classes as well.

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

Yes.

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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.

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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?

Good range in the younger grades, less at HS.

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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?

Some, but less as the kids get older. This is understandable as the expats cycle through, but it creates a not-so-great social scene for expats in the higher grades.

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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.

The school is pretty good about combating bullying.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Great teachers, convenient location

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2. Greatest challenge?

Space (construction is underway but the site is boxed in), fostering a true community feel, and the fact that the high school is mediocre at best.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

For our younger kids, yes, because it is the best option out there. For high school, no. After 9th grade we moved our student to King's Academy and have been extremely glad we did, due to the improved academics and community feel.

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Amman, Jordan 01/06/15

American Community School

School Website

http://www.acsamman.edu.jo


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?

1st grade (we will also be here for 2nd grade next year).

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

2014-2016.

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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)?

Government.

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

Proximity to home and work, preferred my child to be in an American system. The British school gets decent reviews but with this being a "danger post," I wanted my son close to me in case of an emergency and ICS is a bit further away.

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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. I found the admissions process to be straightforward. The only confusion was on who paid the US$100 application fee. You have to pay it and then voucher for it through work.

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

B. The newcomer orientation felt disorganized and all over the place. I left feeling like I had none of my questions answered. We're talking basic things like transportation and hot lunch. Part of it, I think, was there was a brand new elementary school principal and he arrived only about a week prior to school starting so he was still trying to figure everything out himself.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Positive! We are VERY happy with the teacher and classroom. I have been highly impressed with the variety and rigor of the curriculum offered. His teacher is supportive emotionally but also challenges him cognitively.

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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. I personally haven't had any negative experiences but I have heard some stories - mostly about the local Jordanians who send their children to the school. Not just anyone can afford the tuition here and often with financial privilege comes an entitlement attitude.

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

A. My son's teacher is very responsive via email and she sends out a nice monthly newsletter.

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4. 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?

Hot lunch is extra as it is most anywhere. After-school activities are extra.

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

N/A My child does not have any special needs so I can't speak to that. I will say that the ability groups for various reading and math levels seem appropriate. I feel my son is being challenged and properly accommodated in the areas he should.

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

F. The after-school offerings are pretty extensive (everything from Tae Kwon Do to Cooking!). Unfortunately unless you are 1) lucky enough to get into the online registration system within the first 15 minutes of the system opening or 2) don't have a job and have time to physically run down to the school, then your child will not get to participate in anything. The online registration system crashed on me the entire first day and on day 2 when I got in, everything was full!!! I heard first-hand stories of parents driving to the school and paying on the spot and demanding their child be let in and it was allowed. I didn't push the issue but it was heartbreaking to see my child crying because he got into ZERO after-school activities.

The school is building a swimming pool. Right now if you have a child who wants to be on a swim team it costs about US$500U a semester and is located a good 30-45 minutes away (and evening Amman traffic is enough to make you not want to go anywhere at all). The school has a nice futbol field and I'm guessing there is a team for the older students.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B. I feel the homework could be a bit more challenging. I think my son spends about 5-10 minutes a day on homework. I do love that every single day each child takes home a different book from the classroom library.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

C. Like many schools, LOADS of room for improvement.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A. My son and his teacher have a great relationship.

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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?

No

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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:

No

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

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

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

Yes

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

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

I believe so for middle and high school. They do a cool program where they actually travel to other countries for programs/projects.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

Can't really think of any at the moment.

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

No. We couldn't get in.

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

Yes and no. They do try but they are quite disorganized.

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

None.

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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. My son was part of a transitions counseling group and he spoke positively about it and I think it helped him adjust to a new home and school this year.

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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?

There is a brand new "learning commons" that looks impressive from the pictures I've seen.

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

A. As a 1st grader my child has technology class once a week. The program seems to offer a lot of variety.

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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?

A. He has PE once a week and he is happy with it.

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

A. I think there are about 18 children in the class with a teacher and a full-time teacher's aid. Very happy about that.

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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?

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

No (could be a bit more challenging).

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

A. I can only speak to my 1st grader. He has art and music each once a week which seems sufficient enough. I will say I was highly impressed when at the holiday concert the 3rd graders all played several pieces on the xylophone. There is a lot of exposure overall to various instruments which is nice.

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

Yes

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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.

No

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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?

Yes!!!! IF you can actually get your child registered into any of them.

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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. The majority of his classroom is American but there are also students from various other countries.

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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.

Not for us. I know there were some bullying problems on the buses. The buses are a HUGE problem for ACS (everything from behavior to bullying to safety). There is a group of parents working with the administration to hopefully fix some of these things.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

For elementary school I feel the curriculum is rigorous and appropriate.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Organization and consistency. Everything produced by ACS feels fragmented. This includes everything from newcomer orientation to the holiday concert or Halloween festivities. I guess I had this idea that because it's an American school that it would be run more like the schools we went to in the U.S., but it definitely takes on the local flavor of doing things instead!

I also feel like security could be better - I think they are working on this. For a country with a 15% danger designation, I was shocked at how easily one can drive right up to the school.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

As of today, yes I absolutely would. Fingers crossed we have a positive experience next year as well!

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