Guadalajara, Mexico Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico 05/04/17

Canadian School

School Website

http://canadianschool.com.mx/en/home/


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 and Preschool

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

Government

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

Yes, American School, Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln. Canadian School is the only school without the pre-first system.

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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?

The website (in English) finally is working this year. When we were applying, I basically could only talk to people within our community and email the school when I need information. Admission process was very simple and easy.

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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?

School newsletter is in English but everything else is pretty much in Spanish. Home-room teacher will usually write emails in English also. Parents love using Whatsapp, everything is in Spanish.

Headmaster is very approachable if you have any questions, concerns.

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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?

strict uniform, school bag

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Academics & Resources:

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

yes

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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?

Yes but access to library for parents are limited.

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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?

A small indoor gym, few playing fields. Although the school is expanding every year so they are in the process of building a new campus.

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

1:21

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5. 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?

I don't feel my kids are being challenged enough, specially in English.
The school is small, they are willing to work with parents on kids' needs. However, school resources might be limited.

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

too much homework for elementary school students.

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

Most teachers are Mexican, a few native English speaking teachers.

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8. 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 special pulled-out sessions for non-Spanish speaking students, this is optional.

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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?

There are after school activities for additional charge (soccer, karate, yoga, art, track & field, gymnastics ...etc)

The school needs to have a better girls soccer team.

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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?

The school is about 5% expats and the rest Mexican. Students grew up and form their friendship from preschool time.
At Preschool level, the kids play with each other but by 2nd or 3rd grade, it is too late to break into the local groups.

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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?

C+
No, I would pick a school with more international student body.

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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!

This is a good school for younger kids. My preschooler did fine. However, my older child had a rough time, it was just hard to be one of the few foreign students in the school. Spanish is spoken outside of the classroom. If you have elementary school kids, you might want to consider other options. During our second year, we switched our older child to the American School and she was so much happier there with more international students.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 02/05/16

American School Foundation of Guadalajara

School Website

http://www.asfg.mx/asfg/default.aspx


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?

5th grade which is middle school

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

2014-2015

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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)?

USG Foreign Service

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

I switched my son to this school during our tour here because my son needed a larger, institutional environment. In particular, I believed the math would be superior to his previous school and I found that to be the case. The school is implementing the Singapore Math curriculum.

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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?

C (You have to seriously consider that this school has a pre-first grade which throws off the age/curriculum level relative to U.S. schools. So, if you're child is, for example, ready for 4th grade in the U.S., depending on when the child's birthday falls, they might end up in 3rd or 4th grade at ASFG. If they go into 4th grade, then they are younger than all the other Mexican children. This may or may not be a problem. Most parents find that if your child is ready for kindergarten, you might want to insist that your child goes straight into the pre-1st grade rather than their kindergarten grade. An informal survey I conducted of parents moving on from ASFG to other schools told me that, generally, their child was on target with the exception of the English Language Arts/writing skills when they left AFSG.)

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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 (I appreciated that they offer some meet and greets as well as seminars on topics of interest, i.e. bullying or parenting skills, at the school. They have an orientation for new students before the year begins. If one is able, try your best to reach post before the school year begins to help your kid get off on the right foot and into some of these initial offerings).

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

This is such a mixed bag, but overall, the climate is positive. The children are from highly privileged backgrounds and their mothers are often highly involved in their children's lives, even bringing them lunch daily. The teachers are mostly Americans and the majority of them are pretty good. I appreciated that there is a band at this school (and the band teacher is one of the best teachers there). Generally, the school is welcoming and my son had a very very good experience, despite middle school ALWAYS containing challenges. This was the right school for him and he misses it.

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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 (Clearly there are families who have a great deal of pull at this school. There is a tiny proportion of expat families so it's important to understand that this is, culturally, a Mexican school of privileged children and the administration is most concerned with those local families and their support. The consulate pulls no weight and the Overseas School representative from the department is not interested in advocating and would never consider pulling the department grant from this school. So, if you understand what you are getting into and realize this is not an international school, you can be happy here. Don't think for a minute it is like traditional international schools where there is a large body of students from around the world.)

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

C+/B- (The parent must initiate and follow up on communications, not unlike most schools. Their teachers are available via email and do respond to emails. I didn't find that any of the teachers ever reached out to me but they all were willing to talk/make time available if I wanted to discuss anything with them.)

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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?

Generally speaking, no. School supplies are probably US$100 at the beginning of the year.

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

C (This school will say it differentiates but it doesn't and it has a very hard time dealing with individual requests. If a parent is a good advocate and willing to put together an alternative program for a kid...such as advanced math and find the tutor...then I believe the school is responsive. They do not have a GT program nor a special needs program. They are very sensitive/difficult to deal with when it comes to special needs/learning difficulties. If your child has learning difficulties, be sure to check out Thomas Jefferson as they are very open about working with specific needs. They're much more eager to adjust their programming and have even worked with one family to do a half day home school/half day traditional school hybrid program. ASFG is quite self-satisfied and doesn't have the energy to work with non traditional students despite having the greatest resources.)

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

A (Lots of activities on offer for all ages from swimming and soccer to drama and robotics).

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

B- (This depends on the subject and the teacher. I find that the math program is appropriate. However, I found that English Language Arts, on the whole, was a step below because the student population is that of second language learners. This is true in all the Guadalajaran schools. Depending on the teacher, though, this standard can be higher or lower. In fifth grade, I would have given the language arts teacher a C.)

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B (Usually, the homework was appropriate).

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9. Administration-parent communication:

C (This gets mixed reviews, depending on the administrator you are dealing with. I would give an A to the counseling staff and the lower school Principal as those people were open and I found helpful. The middle school counselor was very good and followed through and works hard. Those counselors are the best people to go to rather than the general administration for anything related to the education of your child or their social welfare. The central administration and current head of the school is completely defensive and seems to be in over his head. The admissions person is totally a mixed bag with some people having good experiences with this office and others having very poor experiences. If you are looking at this school and want to get a sense of your child's grade level, be sure to look up who the counselor is of that grade and email them directly/call them and have an informal discussion. They'll want you to go through admissions, but the admissions cannot answer content-based questions.)

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B (No real comment here except that my child felt respected by nearly all of his teachers.)

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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?

Not challenged in English Language Arts.

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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:

No, and this school has a very difficult time meeting special needs. The school, despite being the best resourced in the city, will claim it can't accept students with mild needs as they're afraid of not being able to meet their needs. However, if this school with the so-called most highly trained teachers can't deal with mild special needs cases, then who could? It's an ongoing issue between the consulate and the school. Again, I say this so that parents go in prepared. You can have a positive school experience in Guadalajara, but you must understand the climate/culture you're entering and its constraints.

For special needs children, check out Thomas Jefferson and the Lincoln School. In my experience, special needs children's parents are challenged to find adequate schooling at nearly every post abroad. I don't think this is particularly worse (unless you need speech therapy which is non-existent) nor better. However, if you're an involved parent and have time to work with a school, Thomas Jefferson might be a great choice or even Lincoln (if you're religious and depending on the kind of help needed.)

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

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

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

Generally speaking, it's pretty good in this area. They have a band and they produce yearly plays.

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

Baseball (though there are some local leagues).

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

Not required. However, there is a class trip for most grades where the children go away for a couple of nights. It was about US$500.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

Baseball, though they don't have the physical space for it.

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

Yes, participated in soccer, computer programming, and robotics.

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

They provide some assistance and systems to help new students orient themselves. For middle school, there is a time to visit and be introduced to how things work before the school year begins. "Buddies" were also assigned. They need a program where a family is a support to a new family as it's hard to break into this school's culture/world as most of the Mexican families have been going here for generations or at least the kids have grown up together and already have strong ties with one another.

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

The school is a local school, composed mainly of wealthy people from Guadalajara. Some of these mothers are highly involved in their children's lives and have the time to be on campus daily. For an expat, it can be challenging to break into this group. People are often super nice, but it's all superficial and can be difficult to make true friends. So, for example, you'll invite a child to come play at your house and the mother will allow it, but then your child isn't later invited to their house and this pattern repeats. It honestly depends.

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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?

B+ (Generally speaking, I think the the counselors for each level of primary, middle, and high school are pretty good because they are both academic and psychological counselors and generally responsive to children's needs. We had a few incidents during the year and I thought that the counselor handled them very well, but I can't say the principal of the middle school was too involved. I found that this is quite the traditional institutional school environment where the higher administration talks the talk about wanting parent involvement but doesn't walk the walk. )

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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 (I thought their library was absolutely wonderful, especially the elementary school library. Great holdings, great set up and atmosphere. It's the nicest library I've seen, though other parents told me their U.S. libraries were even better.)

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

A (Relative to the other 5 schools my family has experienced, I believe the IT is quite good here. I appreciated that students learn actual typing in school. I found that the teachers who integrated technology use in their curriculum, did so very intelligently. It wasn't used as content but rather supported the delivery of content. In this area I was pleased.)

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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 (P.E. is built into the schedule and generally speaking, it's fine.)

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

B (Standard sized classes, usually in the low 20s)

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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?

Cannot fairly comment except to say that there are AP courses offered at the high school level.

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

Appropriate

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

B (School has art, music, drama and the band teacher, Mr. Boreen, is excellent. The school puts on a play. There seems to be quite a bit on offer.)

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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.

Son is highly capable in math and, generally speaking, the math is of a higher caliber at this school compared to others in the area. However, it still isn't an advanced program. Thomas Jefferson boasts a GT program, but you should look closely at it as it's difficult to determine the true level of training in that GT program.

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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, there is everything from swimming to soccer to basketball to robotics and drama.

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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?

This really depends on your initiative. While everyone is kind, superficially, sometimes it's difficult to get any kind of commitment outside of the school day. A parent has to make a great deal of effort.

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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 and no. Difficult to answer this question. I think the school is aware of these issues and has developed a policy on it. A parent must stay vigilant. I found that exclusion is more common that true bullying or teasing. Also, it's difficult to access this since some of these difficulties are part of middle school years where children are testing boundaries and such. It also depends on your child and his/her personality. My child experienced a few periods during the year when a few other kids kind of ganged up on him and caused some trouble, but my child stood up for himself and things calmed down. I know of other students who had harder times and still other students who just had only positive experiences.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The strength was that it offered my son an institutional school environment where the math was good, the facilities had more to offer (compared to the small school we switched him from), he was treated as someone who could make decisions and be responsible for himself as a 5th grade, and he liked that the school had technology and permitted technology at school.

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2. Greatest challenge?

In my experience, the administration was defensive and not open to honest discussion about improvement. They so badly want to be seen as the best school in town that they are afraid of admitting their weakness. They want to believe themselves so sophisticated and international in nature, but they aren't. They're a local, Mexican school with an American curriculum and lots of American teachers. They do a good job and the majority of people are good there. I believe the principal/head is in over his head and unable to handle the concerns of expat Americans.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, definitely for my son. However, I would stay far away from the administration and stick to dealing one-on-one with teachers and the counselors who, by large, are a good group. Don't think for a second that the consulate bureaucracy will support you with issues at this school. They won't (and, let's be honest, they have no real interest). Though this was the best school for my son, be sure to look into all the school choices in Guadalajara as there are several and every school has different strengths and weaknesses. My daughter went to the Lincoln School and had the best school experience of her life to date. Check out Lincoln, ASFG, Canadian (lots of happy parents), Thomas Jefferson (on par with ASFG and with a super welcoming administration). There is even Instituto Tepayac and George Washington for further choice. Good luck. Guadalajara is a great posting and if you go in with open eyes about schooling and it's challenges, I believe you can have a good experience there!

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Guadalajara, Mexico 02/03/16

Lincoln School

School Website

http://lincolnschool.edu.mx


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?

One child attended for one year (4th grade). The other child attended for 3rd and 4th grade.

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

2013-2015

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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)?

Foreign Service USG

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

After visiting 4 schools upon arrival, I decided on this school for a variety of reasons including small class size, American curriculum, welcoming environment/smaller school size, and was satisfied that the religious expression here was positive rather than judgmental/intolerant in nature.

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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?

B (Children are tested and then placed. I had no trouble with my kids placed in the equivalent grades to an American school system).

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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+ (as with all schools, communication is difficult)

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Very warm, loving, attentive environment where each child is valued and where teachers are very motivated.

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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

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

B (Depended on the teacher. Usually, teachers responded quickly to emails.

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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?

Uniforms cost a couple hundred dollars at the beginning of the year. There is a little lunch shop where kids can buy food sometimes. No big expenses at this school.

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

C (This isn't the school for a family highly concerned with acceleration/gifted programs)

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

B- (One of the nice things is that you can arrange private activities like art with a teacher. There is basketball and a few activities, but this isn't the school for lots of after school choices).

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

? Hard to rate this. They do follow an American curriculum and kids are kept on grade level standard (Having moved on from the school, I see that my kids were not behind though I feared they might be behind in Math. They were up to speed in all subjects).

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B (At first the homework seemed ridiculously much, but the school eagerly adjusted homework and even specialized it to my child to make sure my child wasn't spending too much time with homework. Very satisfied with how this issue was handled.)

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9. Administration-parent communication:

B (As with all schools I've experienced 6 of them”communication is ALWAYS a challenge in one way or another. But, they are AWESOME when it comes to going in and talking with them about any issue you might have. They are SUPER open and want to hear your needs and do their very best to respond to them. This sets this school apart from others I've experienced.)

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B

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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?

Math wasn't challenging enough for a child who is relatively strong in math.

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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:

No

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

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

They do not have a GT program.

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

No

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

They are a small school and do well with their resources. It's hard to expect enhanced programs in such a small school.

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

A few, but their cost is minimal. They even tried to refund me US$5 after a sleep away trip where the school didn't spend as much money as was anticipated. I found it incredible that they tried to give parents money back. Of course, I told them to keep it.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

This is not the right school if you're interested in after-school activities.

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

Individualized art program and individualized Spanish tutoring—both awesome that teachers taught these things after school and didn't charge an arm and a leg.

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20. 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 (They deal very well with emotional well-being of students in the elementary grades.)

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

B (Small library and adequate but cannot compare to the American school library).

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

C (Limited resources)

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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?

C (Average in that, while they do have P.E. and make the kids get exercise, their grounds are tiny and hence, very limited).

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

A (Very small class sizes...about 12 students to 1 teacher.)

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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?

N/a for grade school

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

Yes, see my response about "homework assigned."

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

B- (This isn't the school for lots of sports and music options; however it's awesome that individual teachers will give private lessons, as able to your child. We did this for after-school art. Individuality is great here.)

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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?

Minimal after-school activities such as basketball.

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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?

Depends on the effort of the expat family. The local families at Lincoln are welcoming to new families.

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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 that I saw at the younger grade levels. I heard there were a few problems at the 6th grade level.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

This school is incredible in the following ways: 1) They walk the walk and not just talk the talk about Christian values. I was worried it would be lots of bible talk and exclusion toward people who didn't believe the way they do. Not the case at all. While we are a Christian family, we are not fundamentalist by any stretch and I was concerned when I first looked at this school's website. But, what we found in the school was truly a loving, good, hard working community where children are respected and nurtured. This school was my daughter's favorite school of all of her schools and I'm eternally grateful she got to experience the community there. 2) This school is amazing in that it honestly is open to feedback. They just do not get defensive in the least (watch out for the American School as they are incredibly defensive and difficult to provide feedback to. I had kids in both schools).

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2. Greatest challenge?

In Guadalajara, the majority of children at bilingual schools are second language learners (of English). As such, I feel that the entire English language arts program suffers at all the schools. That being said, it also depends on your child. My daughter blossomed in her writing abilities because she is already self-motivated. But, my son (like so many boys) was allowed to do mediocre work but still get high grades for it because, compared to other students, he still wrote better than native Spanish speakers writing in English.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, definitely for my daughter, but not for my son. Each child is different and needs something different. If you're looking for an environment where there are small class sizes, lots of attention and nurturing, and an American curriculum, then this might be a great place for you. And obviously, if you're looking for religious education, then this school serves that need. But, other kids (like my son) thrive in a more institutional/larger environment with more technology and the possibility for enriched subjects like math (The American School has a stronger math program but also check out Thomas Jefferson School which is on par with the American School, but has a much better administration and is much eager to work with parents and has gifted and talented).

The Lincoln School is a winner. Parents get obsessed with wanting the "best" education, thinking it's purely measured by how accelerated a program is (hence even Talesmag has so many G&T questions), but educating the kids involves so much more and I see even more clearly what a good education my daughter had here, now that we've moved to the next post. It encouraged in her a love of learning and responsibility to do her best and grow her head and heart.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 05/29/14

Home Schooling Resources

School Website


Background Information:

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

Both.

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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?

9th and 8th grades.

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

2013/14.

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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?

We chose to homeschool in Guadalajara because we weren't satisfied with the other high school options. There are many good things about the other schools, but since the Lincoln School has trouble teaching all its core high school subjects in English, and since the American school is not diverse at all, we thought homeschooling would be a better option. Also, it is a major advantage for us to homeschool through high school instead of putting our children in three different high schools.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

We've chosen to use a combination of online classes, textbooks, and private tutors here in Guadalajara and it has worked well.

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

We've been able to make homeschooling work socially by signing our kids up for classes and going on camping trips with expat and Mexican kids.

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Academics & Resources:

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

Our children have taken rock climbing (with the local university) and mountain biking classes for PE. There is a large family-oriented gym near our house where they have also done some activities. And it's easy to get outside here and do fun things, especially in the Bosque.

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

We haven't found a lot of outside classes in English for things like this, but we have many English-speaking tutors who come to our home for private lessons in Spanish, programming, and music classes.

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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.

Our children haven't felt excluded here because they homeschool.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The best thing about homeschooling in Guadalajara has been the availability of so many excellent, English-speaking tutors and all the fun activities our children have been able to participate in.

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2. Greatest challenge?

It would be nice if there were other homeschooled high schoolers.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, this has been a good city to homeschool in and I don't regret our decision.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 05/15/14

ASFG - Guadalajara

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?

4th grade, which ASFG says is at the 5th grade level--read more below on this.
Also 10th grade.

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

2012-2013. We would have loved to stay but curtailed (departed early) due to the school environment. It's a great city otherwise.

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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?

It was the school sponsored by the U.S. Consulate.

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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?

F

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

F. Nothing other than an initial welcoming session. They need much more, especially for the expat children.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Not a climate conducive to learning, especially in the high school. The school consists of approximately 90% local children the school calls their "legacy kids." The kids are not necessarily bad and I did not see any physical bullying. It's actually more harmful in a sense since the "legacy" children did not seem to have any interest or time for the expat children.

The school had no program to assist assimilating the expat kids into this environment and just seemed to accept that their interests lied in taking care of the long-term children. I would say the environment amounted to bullyig by exclusion for many children. If your children are great athletes or find some other niche, they might have a better experience. My kids have attended several schools in South and Central America and we have never seen such a poor environment for children. Don't take your information from Post or the school but rather reach out to other parents at the school. Hopefully, they will address this issue which is quite significant.

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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:

F. There is no program to help assimilate the expat children. There is a strange climate of all the Mexican children who know each other since Kindergarten and the expat kids who either find other expat kids or walk around by themselves.

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

C

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

B

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5. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

F

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6. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

F. Not enough at the high school levels. Lower school would be at a B grade.

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7. Administration-parent communication:

Good at the lower school - A. She was always available. The high school principal was not - F.

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8. Teacher-student communication:

C

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9. 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?

The school has a two tiered first grade system. I think the first year of first grade is for the Mexican children to improve their English. So when they go to second grde, ASFG has them in the second tier of first grade. It sounds crazy and it is. It presents so many dilemmas for parents and children. Talk to other families with children in the school to see how it affects them. Your child will either feel s/he has been kept back or be put into classes with children a year older.

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

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

No. AP level courses seemed to be at the normal range of a typical U.S. private school.

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

Some at the high school levels. My son was unable to take part in an excursion outside of Guadalajara since the security officer would not approve his participation due to security concerns. That's understandable but still limits what some kids can do.

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

Band and singing.

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

None that we saw, especially at the high school levels.

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

Many expat children do not find it a welcoming environment. Despite having attended several schools overseas, my children did not adapt. The school has some serious issues they need to address. I sincerely hope they can.

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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?

They had a great high school counselor but I believe he departed in 2012. I think the problems were beyond him and, unfortunately, institutionalized.

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

B

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

D

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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?

C

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

B

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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?

No IB program but they do have some AP level classes which seemed to be at the normal standard of any U.S. private school.

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

Yes, at the lower grades, no at the high school. The school bragged about how much homework the kids would have during the year in high school. If my son had an hour's worth of homework a week, that would be a lot.

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

B

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

Yes. I did not see any issue with this.

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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?

Expats with expats and locals with locals. Very few exceptions.

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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, expat children are excluded from birthday invitations and pretty much any social interaction unless it's with other expats. There are, of course, some exceptions to this. Unfortunately, some grades do not have many expats so this does not help. My son was in a grade with a total of 3 expats.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

They have some really great and committed teachers. They had a great counselor in high school but I believe he departed.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Making the school a friendly and welcoming environment for all children, not just their "legacy students." Doing away with the second level of first grade which does not work for expat families coming from traditional schools with grades 1-12.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

If they reverse course and improve the enviroment for expat children, absolutely. Otherwise, no.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 05/13/14

Canadian School

School Website

http://www.canadianschool.com.mx/home.html


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?

Kindergarten.

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

2013/2014.

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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?

We contacted ASFG first but weren't happy with our initial interaction with them, especially regarding our high school age children. We waited to decide on the school until we arrived in Guadalajara and were pleased with the Canadian School for our youngest son when we visited it.

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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?

Children who are 5 by December 31st should be placed in kindergarten but they were flexible with this. We chose to put our son in kindergarten even though he turned 6 in December since he hadn't been in kindergarten before. We appreciated the flexibility.

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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. My son arrived after the school year started and spoke no Spanish but his teachers and the administrators have been very supportive in making sure he transitioned well. The parents of the other children in his class have all been very welcoming and friendly.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

My child has been very happy at the Canadian School. He is learning, the children are kind, his teachers are excellent, and we have been completely satisfied with the general climate at the school. Unfortunately the school is only for younger elementary children right now. They are planning on adding 3rd grade in 2014/15 and 4th in 2015/16 (and so on).

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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. We have had no problems at all in this area.

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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 good at keeping me informed about what is going on at the school. She always emails in English.

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

As mentioned above, children can play soccer, do TKD, take Spanish if they need it, and there are several other classes available too. I think there is something available every day if you need it.

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5. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Kindergarten has a short homework assignment once a week.

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6. Administration-parent communication:

The administration emails frequently and always has an option for me to read the information in English.

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7. Teacher-student communication:

Excellent.

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

Nothing.

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

No.

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10. What activities do you feel are missing?

Nothing.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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

None.

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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?

The library is small right now but they are working on it as they add more grades.

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

A. In addition to the regular PE classes, my son also plays soccer after school. There is a TKD class too.

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

Very good. The kindergarten classes have around 16-18 children with two teachers each.

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

Yes.

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

This doesn't really apply in kindergarten but they do spend a lot of time on art and music.

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

Yes.

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7. 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.

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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. What is the greatest strength of this school?

We love the focus on community and kindness at the Canadian school. It is always a happy place and my son has learned a lot.

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2. Greatest challenge?

We have been completely satisfied in every way.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes, for all of the reasons listed above. I hope that the Canadian School becomes a good alternative to ASFG as it continues to add new grades.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 05/08/14

American School Foundation Guadalajara

School Website

http://asfg.mx


Background Information:

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

Parent (formerly a teacher).

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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?

Middle school aged,

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

2011-2014.

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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?

Seemed the best fit for our kids.

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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?

C-/D the admissions director has been known to give contradictory information. The policy is that kids take a skills test (which is not a big deal and very appropriate) and their performance on that determines their grade placement. This is tricky because like many bilingual schools in GDL, ASFG has a prefirst grade when their Mexican students learn English so their kids are about a year older than their counterparts in the U.S. in each grade (i.e., ASFG kids graduate 12th grade when they are 18-19, rather than U.S. kids who usually graduate when they are 17-18.)

According to Dr. Bill Scotti of the Office of Overseas Schools, regardless of grade placement, he has never had a problem having kids placed in the correct grade once they leave ASFG. However, the evaluation of the kids is entirely up to the Admissions Director. Often she tells families BEFORE THEY TAKE THE TEST that their child will LIKELY go into the lower grade (with agemates). My beef with this is that the policy is to place based on test scores, so creating this expectation seems to create a barrier at the outset. We were told several times that we needed documents for the SEP (Mexican government program) even though we were not placing our children into that program, and had been clear about that from the outset. There is a lot of unnecessary angst in the communications (such as concerns about having spots for the kids, when applying during the spring or summer) and not a lot of clarity.

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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 but there is a recognition that this is an opportunity for growth. I would recommend getting involved to help develop this area. It needs work but there is a willingness to improve at the institutional level.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

It's a Mexican school with a U.S. curriculum. Having said that, my children are happy there. This is not their first overseas school, and they did have some adjustments to make, as with any new school, but some of the issues were unique. Let me say I can only speak to the middle school -- I cannot speak to high school, elementary or preschool.

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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+
The information from the room mothers is only in Spanish, some meetings are held only in Spanish and the Parent Association meetings are only in Spanish, which makes communication more challenging. Having said that, I attend meetings with my limited Spanish and people are always willing to help if I don't understand. I get a lot of support from the moms in the Parent Association. I think showing up and getting involved made me like the school better and made me feel more a part of the community. It is not super warm and friendly from the get-go.

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

B- this is another area for improvement. Some teachers have reached out if my kids had issues but most have relied on parents watching the Powerschool electronic gradebook, which made me feel like a helicopter parent. Sometimes we would go to a conference or I would see a teacher and they would reference something as if I knew what they were talking about. So that was frustrating because middle school kids don't tell you everything that goes on, like elementary kids do. Having said that, overall I really like/liked most of the teachers my kids have had.

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

N/A Children with special needs are a case-by-case basis. I would contact the counseling staff with very specific information about your child's needs and see what can be done. My kids have been challenged and I have had no complaints.

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

A Yes, see the website.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

B+/A- I have been happy with what I see happening for my kids. My daughter is reading Animal Farm in 8th grade and has IVCs with a school in Jordan for Model UN in middle school. I believe most schools do not offer MUN at this level, and read Animal Farm in high school. My son has had teachers who have encouraged him to go beyond the boundaries of assignments to tackle issues he found curious.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

B some of it is good, some of it could be better, like pretty much every school I've ever been at. However, kudos to the math teachers especially, for being very upfront about time. The middle school uses the IXL online program, but every teacher has made a point of saying that if your child does not get it, email the concern and not have them doing hours of math to achieve whatever the goal was. Each teacher we've had has responded positively to this when we've had a bad math night and helped the kids out so that things were better.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

A- My son told me that he was getting harassed at school so he was going to email the vice-principal and counselor and he would copy me on the email. That evening I had two emails in my inbox with possible solutions already in place, and I had a phone call the next morning. The middle school administrators have been outstanding in terms of communication both regarding bad things (bullying, my son acting out) and good things. Whenever I showed up in their office, either electronically or in person, they were there. I did not always agree with their opinions but they listen well and I generally liked the outcomes. More importantly, both my kids like the administrators and feel that they are fair and helpful.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

B again, like everywhere, it depends on the teacher (and the receptiveness of the kid). I have had to work with some teachers, for example when my son was having trouble getting his work from home to the classroom. It was done but he wasn't turning it in. We had a meeting with all his teachers, and at one point he just shut down, even though his teachers were actively involved in brainstorming solutions. I have also had to work hard with a few teachers who were very rigid but I think that is an individual issue, not a school issue. Generally, the teachers are available and interested in engaging with the students.

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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?

Spanish as a Foreign Language could be a bit more challenging.

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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, except for math tutoring after school.

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

Yes, but you can get out of many of them.

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16. What activities do you feel are missing?

More summer activities.

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

Yes, both during the school year and in the summer.

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

Some, but this is an area for growth.

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

Spanish is the social language, so it may take a while for non-Spanish speakers to feel comfortable. However, I have seen some consulate kids who didn't speak Spanish jump right in, so who knows! Guadalajara is VERY conservative, so a progressive viewpoint may be an issue too.

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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?

Gaby Silva is the head counselor and the middle school counselor and she is fabulous. We have worked with her to deal with adjustment, bullying, "mean-girls," sibling friction, and classroom issues. She is a fantastic listener and open to the idea that there may more than one interpretation of a situation. My son got in trouble one day for saying something that his teacher thought was inappropriate, and Gaby asked me to stop by. It turned out he had taken something I had said out of context, and so she worked with him to understand why it had been perceived negatively. My daughter ran into a pretty serious issue with a classmate, and Gaby worked with her very closely and kept us in the loop. I liked that she was willing to work before and after school with my daughter, who was getting bothered by other kids who asked why she was in Ms. Gaby's office so much. The issue was resolved and my daughter was very happy with the outcome.

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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+ GREAT libraries and librarians. They really look out for new kids and go out of their way to help them. I cannot stress enough how great they are. And they need volunteers, so help them -- talk to Victoria in the high school library or Juliet in the elementary library.

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

A using a laptop (the laptop program starts in 7th grade) has made a world of difference for my son, who has been on honor roll this entire year. Last year, most of his paper assignments got lost in the black hole of his locker.

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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 Great, lots of sports but the instruction is primarily in Spanish. The director of the PE section, Paty de la Torre, speaks English and is very helpful when there have been communication issues. It is a great way for the kids to learn Spanish.

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

A 20-ish:1; reasonable.

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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?

There are over 20 AP classes in high school but my kids aren't there yet.

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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)?

B+ Nice. Art, drama, music, robotics, etc. but only during the year and briefly in the summer.

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

Yes, except PE.

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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?

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, but it takes some doing.

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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.

From what I have learned, many students, expat and otherwise, feel excluded and bullied. Part of this is middle school behavior and part of it is the "como la pina" attitude in Guadalajara, which sometimes feels like a very small town. But having been a teacher, I think that there is bullying and exclusion everywhere. My son was bullied a lot his first year but once he went to the administration and told them what was going on, it STOPPED. The second year it started with a different group of kids but almost immediately he reported it and it stopped. He has strong positive feelings about the school, which I think says a lot.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

Great middle school faculty and administration.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Communication for parents who don't speak fluent Spanish, social interactions and mostly, the admissions office. My advice is that if possible, to get involved with the Parent Association. These are the (mostly) women who get things done, and they are very nice. That's the biggest change I would make if I was doing it over again, knowing what I know now. All of the sudden I feel much more connected.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes. My son took a summer class in claymation with a man who worked at Sesame Street. My daughter went to a MUN conference as a middle schooler, and led a DVC with a school in Jordan. She met one of the former Mexican presidents and got to ask him a question. They have had a lot of good experiences. They have had some problems as well, some serious, but whenever we worked with the school, our problems were resolved. Overall we are pleased with how it has gone.

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Guadalajara, Mexico 04/26/14

American school of Guadalajara

School Website

http://Www.asfg.mx


Background Information:

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

Both.

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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?

Second and Fourth.

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

2012-2013.

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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?

Recommended by the Consulate.

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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?

F- one person does all the admission/placement without consulting the principal, teachers or listening to parents When parents push back, she suggests that the school may not be the right fit.

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

F- no one cares; the school's focus is on their funding source (the wealthy locals). There is no program to help new children transition, the academics do not line up with international standards and the non-native speakers are immediately pulled out to a "special Spanish" class which keeps them from learning Spanish and becoming part of their peer group.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

95% wealthy heritage families and a very small expat community. Children are segregated for the majority of the day and non-native speakers have a hard time assimilating.

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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- the wealthy locals run the school, make the decisions and use their money to influence.

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

C- teachers vary, but most information came late or at the last minute.

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

F- although they claim they can service mild special needs, they are not willing to make any accomodations because it is "not fair" to the rest of the students. There is no understanding of 504 plans, let alone an IEP.

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

C- they are there, but all in Spanish which could be great if the kids didn't exclude and bully the non-native speakers.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

F- the focus is on the Mexican curriculum. The entire grade-level set up as well as the daily schedule is set up to support this All non-native speakers are segregated to a Spanish class for non-native speakers wherein they spend years "practicing" but never becoming fluent. An inclusion program would resolve this but the school won't consider it because there is fear that it would slow down the Mexican curriculum.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

D- heavy amounts of homework assigned. 1-2 hours daily.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

C- again, most information came late.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

D- teacher quality was questionable. Some teachers were less than professional and had negative interactions with students. There were a few amazing teachers that really stood out among the rest.

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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?

Yes- because the focus is to get the native speakers to learn English, the language arts program is behind the U.S. equivelent for said grade and Math is a year ahead. They changed the math program while we were there so now parents must choose whether to place their children by age or by curriculum. In relation to U.S. standards, children will be behind by a grade level academically if they are placed with their same-age peers, or correctly placed academically but with children who are 9-18 months older.

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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:

Yes- we hired a teacher to tutor our child when he was misplaced and had to catch up on a year of math.

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

No- there is no real support. The teacher we had was unwilling and unable to accommodate. When forced, he retaliated against the child, suggesting the child did not need accommodations but rather was lazy.

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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?

Not at the elementary level.

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

The daily schedule should not have separation for half the day. Children should be immersed and learn together throughout the day.

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

Yes and there are many.

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

Yes but they quit because there was severe bullying.

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

No - there is no effort to help new students.

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

Like I mentioned before, the children are segregated and there is a major "class" issue between the wealthy locals and the international kids. There is no effort to change this at the administrative level due to the financial pressure. Non-native speakers are isolated and bullied. Extracurricular activities are all in Spanish and bullying keeps many out. The school is more of a social club for the mothers and the communication stays in that inner circle, most decisions being made by that core group. There is no consideration for working families, requiring parents to show up at school at the last minute for random reasons.

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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?

C- bullying issues were covered at a surface level but no real action was taken to improve the situation.

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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- great library and awesome librarian.

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

B-decent program, although teachers sometimes made poor choices on what forms of technology they use with the kids.

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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

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

B- 20/23 to 1 .

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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?

Lots of paperwork and repetition. Not very creative.

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

B- the extra curricular activities are decent.

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

The teachers who teach the English portion of the day are.

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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.

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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?

No.

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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, so much so that even teachers at the school have home-schooled their children.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The elementary school principal and the science teacher.

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2. Greatest challenge?

All of the above.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Never and I recommend to everyone I speak with to do their research carefully.

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