Antananarivo, Madagascar Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Antananarivo, Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar 03/09/19

American School of Antananarivo

School Website

https://asamadagascar.org/


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?

Grades 5-7 and 1-3.

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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)?

Posted with government job.

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

There are other schools, but not at this standard. ASA is accredited in the States with MSA and through the International Baccalaureate.

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Admissions & Welcome:

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

Yes, the website is thorough and there is also a separate site for new families. Admissions are done online.

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

My children were quickly welcomed by their classmates. Older children are set up with 'buddies' to correspond with before they arrive. The PTO holds coffee mornings regularly which all parents are invited to attend. There was an orientation day before school started for students and families. In my opinion more information about what is available in the community would be helpful, especially around what there is for children to do outside of school.

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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 weekly newsletter which is very informative. In the elementary school the teachers regularly post out to parents, and there are parent liaisons for each class which is also helpful. The meet regularly with the elementary principal. Google classroom updates can be sent weekly to parents for the older students, and Managebac access is given so you can keep up with both assignments and assessment. PTO meetings are monthly, and board meetings every second month; both are open to all parents. Policies and handbooks are online, and teachers and the Principals and Director are very friendly and willing to meet about any issues.

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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?

Middle and High School students have to have laptops, but any will do, including Chromebooks in Middle School. There are trip expenses for older students if they take them - sports, arts etc. I'm not sure what these cost, it would vary, but it is expensive to travel internationally from Madagascar. There is a fee for instrument hire as well. No uniforms.

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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?

There is an American counselor and she does both guidance and college counseling. She has experience from other international schools and I think is familiar with application processes worldwide.

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

Not available.

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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 and students can take books home. There are new books every year. Elementary students visit regularly with their classes.

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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?

Elementary students have 1:1 ipads in the lower years and chromebooks in the upper years. They have design classes as well where they design and make products (not always digitally), in a big makerspace. The older students also have design classes and there is a big IT lab. They have to have their own laptops. Technology is integrated very well across the school from what I can tell.

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

Yes and 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?

There's an artificial turf soccer pitch and a covered court. There is use of a nearby pool (walking distance in the same complex the school is in) for swimming lessons.

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

1:8 maybe? It's very good, anyway.

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

IB diploma was introduced this year, and AP is being phased out. Students are not required to take the full diploma. They can also receive a US High School Diploma.

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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?

It seems challenging and appropriate to me. I know that there has been a lot of work done by teachers to meet the IB standards.

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

Yes, my children were able to manage it independently and it did not take too much of their time.

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

There is band, general music and visual art. Drama is an after school activity for older students. There are concerts twice a year and a drama performance. Also a talent show.

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

Most are native speakers and those that aren't are fluent. Many teachers speak more than one language.

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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.

Very strong learning support department.

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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.

There are elevators and ramps.

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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.

There is English support. Many of the students do not have English as their first language.

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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?

There are many activities after school, but they are mainly run but teachers and assistants so they vary according to what the staff can offer. The sports program is becoming stronger and stronger with some excellent teacher coaches. They offer a lot for a school this size.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

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

Yes, very inclusive.

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2. 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?

I have never heard of any exclusionary behaviour. The students seem very open-minded and accepting.

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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, the students are integrated.

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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.

None at all.

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Overall Impressions:

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

Just the friendliness of the other students, as well as teachers and all the staff. Everybody knows each other. The children feel very confident here, and are very comfortable with the way they are treated and taught. They feel valued.

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2. 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

Yes, my children were so happy here I would definitely choose it again.

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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!

This school is so great for kids!

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Antananarivo, Madagascar 03/06/19

American School of Antananarivo

School Website

https://asamadagascar.org/


Background Information:

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

A 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?

Grade 1-3

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

Government (Embassy) work

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

Arrived in January 2015. Credibility, we checked the other schools: BSM and Vision Valley, checked the standards, wasn’t convinced.

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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?

Clear admissions procedures. Admissions form was easy to read. We were well-assisted throughout the process.

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

Parents and teachers were very friendly. It was easy to connect.

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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?

Elementary teachers tell everything that happens in the class. They are very helpful. Whenever there is something I don’t understand about the homework, I ask the teacher and they are very responsive.

Now things are better with the school newsletter, the school makes it better for us. Sometimes you hear about things from other 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?

Aside from school fees, we may be requested to pay an instrument rental fee, field trip fee. There are no uniforms.

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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 socio-emotional counsellor is available as well as a university guidance counsellor. There is also a health clinic.

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

There is no daycare

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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 the school has a library, it is quite large with a variety of books. Students can borrow books to read at home.

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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?

In secondary, they are required to have a laptop. Google classroom is used for homework and other things. Students use technology for their projects.

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

One thing I like about ASA that the students are tech savvy.

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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, we have a soccer field and basketball / volleyball court and a pool is available in the compound

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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?

We had AP courses and are now switching to IB. It is an IB school.

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

Yes my child really enjoyed iXL math homework and Raz kids. I didn’t have to tell him to do his homework.

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

They offer music and arts. The concerts were lovely.

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

They are required to speak fluently

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11. 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 department

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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.

There is an elevator for people with disabilities

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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.

The ELL department offers intensive learning for non English speakers

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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?

Limited number of students: my son was so sad not to be able to join the robotics. I tried to be among the first to sign up, but he was still waitlisted. He was waitlisted for soccer, so I talked to the principal, and they put him in. We love soccer in our country.
I think there is a limited option of after school activities compared to the school I came from. You would expect a big campus that has a lot of after school activities.

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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?

They socialize easily.

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

No

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Overall Impressions:

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

The school made a good decision to move to this new campus. Kindergarten was separate from the rest of the school in the old campus. Now you have everything within the same premises of the school. Canteen at school makes our lives easier. You just load the card. It looks like a perfect school and we enjoyed being part of the community.

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Antananarivo, Madagascar 08/22/18

American School of Antananarivo

School Website

http://asamadagascar.org/


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?

First and second grade. 2016-2018

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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)?

Diplomatic mission

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

There is a small British school, and the French elementary and lycee. Most non-French expats send their kids to the American 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 was clear.

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

The school does well for the new students, but could improve parent welcome. There aren't very many opportunities to meet the administration or teachers.

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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?

Each teacher has his own style, and our two teachers were good communicators. They had dedicated websites for the class that were updated weekly, as well as weekly emails to parents. They were very responsive when we had questions. The school administration could, however, improve communication. They converted to a single email newsletter last year, but didn't inform everyone, and so many parents didn't know to look for it. The administration was not amenable to personal emails or one-on-one meetings.

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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?

Not in the elementary grades.

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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?

Not sure, our kids were young.

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

No. There are a few after-school activities, but they fill up very fast and the variety is not very good.

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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, small library and the kids can take books home.

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

There is a technology teacher who teaches computer science at the higher grades.

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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?

Kids are given a tablet for use in the classroom only. A computer at home is needed for nightly 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?

Very poor. No pool or courts. There is a court for basketball and volleyball, and some fields. Lack of sports coaches or opportunities was a common complaint, and was a primary reason some high schoolers were sent to boarding schools off the island.

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

About 15 per class with a primary teacher and a support aide.

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

IB just started this year for the upper grades. PYP has been in place for the elementary grades for several years.

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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?

This is very teacher specific, since each grade typically has a single teacher. The school follows the PYP and common core curriculum.

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

I think so. In second grade, they gave about 40 minutes of homework per night. I was disappointed in the lack of consistency with this, however. Some weeks were full, but as the semester wore on, the homework load lessened to zero. I had to make things up for him at night just to keep,our routine consistent.

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

The art teacher there was fantastic. Music was ok, and the kids put on two shows per year.

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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.

Nothing. My son was clearly advanced in one subject, and all his teacher could offer me was general advice for extra work at home. I was disappointed.

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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.

Very little. My son also had a minor learning disability and the administration refused to help without a formal assessment, which wasn't available in the country. It was a frustrating experience.

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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.

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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.

They have dedicated instructors.

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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?

Very little. Most activities in the elementary grades are arts-and-crafts based. Soccer was offered, but there was no real coach the kid said he just ran around and randomly kicked a ball. I would have like to see the school invest in this area by hiring local coaches and having more sports opportunities. My children weren't especially interested in arts and crafts, so we often organized with other parents outside of school to have group tennis, swimming, and soccer activities.

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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 so. There is a nice balance, and the kids all seem to get along.

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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.

None that I saw.

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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?

B - I would not choose it again, but it was fine for elementary school.

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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!

The school is small, which means excellent personal attention from teachers and a close-knit community, but also means very few non-academic opportunities and very little support for kids above or below grade level in anything. The new campus, which opened in 2017, is gorgeous, however.

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