Moscow, Russia Real School Experiences

Personal Experiences from Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia 11/01/12

Anglo American School of Moscow

School Website

http://www.aas.ru


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?

6-7 and 8-9

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

2009-2011

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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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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?

I don't know. I think so. I never heard otherwise.

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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. Really excellent.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

Excellent atmosphere, good home-school relations, very positive place both in middle school and in high school

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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: In that they do what they say they will do, so in that way it is fair and equitable, but it is a tiered system, so local families do not have priority on spaces and are often frustrated by this. They would probably, as a result, not give it a good grade. Embassy families have priorty.

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

Depends. For me, I'd give it a B+. Some teachers were great, others only so so. The administration was very good at communicating. Parents roamed the halls and dropped in to talk to teachers and it was encouraged, so in that way A+. But sometimes parents don't know all that they maybe should know, so though not in my case, maybe some parents felt that way with some teachers.

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

B. Teachers differentiate pretty well. Not a perfect system. There is a differentiation staff member, but he or she works primarily in the elementary school, not middle or high school. They should get someone for the upper grades as well to support the teacher's efforts, but teachers are trained and very good for the most part, so it's not a big problem. It's just that it could be better.

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

A. The full range is offered. Very good program especially at elementary level. There are a variety of activities offered every term and so if you want a different activity after school every single day (maybe not on Fridays? Not sure), then yuo can sign up for all of the days and have a wonderful variety. For middle and high school it's mostly if your child does year book, theater, band, sports, speech and debate, etc. and is more individually driven, but there is a lot there for a child who wants it.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

B-: Middle school math program was so-so, as was elementary science program (No elementary schience lab! Which is strange in this very well-resourced school). Beyond those two issues, I was very happy wtih the standards for both of my kids and as a teacher.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A: I was perfectly happy wtih it both as a teacher and as a parent, but it's cultural. Some parents beg teachers to give NO homework while others complain there isn't nearly enough. But I found there were only rare times when my kids had so much that they were up late, and honestly, I think it was their bad planning more than that it was too much homework.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

Aha, as mentioned above. I'd give an A for that. Lots of newsletters, emails home en masse and individually, etc.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A: very, very good. The student is prompted to communicate more by getting papers signed if their grades are low or if behaviour is a problem, and the "average" student can stop by almost any time at all to talk to a teacher, and I found it happened very often and was encouraged by all.

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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?

Math in Middle School and Science in Elementary School, as previously noted.

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

My son had a bit of help for his lack of homework and studying work. It was pretty good. As a teacher, several of my students needed support and got it. The school has a school psychologist, which is unusual and very nice for a teacher needing some extra expertise for a student or a parent looking for educational testing, which you usually have to leave post to get, but not in Moscow as the school psychologist can administer the testing.

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

Yes. My son got the support he needed and improved.

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

N/A

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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. Need more art, but otherwise, we were very happy with the offerings.

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

None. It was good.

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

Yes. The school was trying to make trips mandatory in print so the embassy would cover costs, but so far that had not happened. It'd be nice if they could do that. Trips for sports cost money. From time to time there's a field trip for teh litle ones that cost a bit, but not much. It's not outrageous. Mostly it effects kids who travel for sports or speech and debate or math counts or things like that -- when they go to other countries. And there is one trip a year in the upper grades that your child will want to go on, and it costs, but you can choose teh local option if you prefer and then you don't pay -- but your child will probably be annoyed with you if you do that :-)

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

Track and Field. I'd have liked that and they have the facilities so could do it. They do cross country though.

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

Yes, quite a few.

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

Absolutely. Very, very welcoming. Very warm environment in that way.

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

Russian boys are sexist, to a large extent. This can be a problem for the girls and they'll say so.

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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+ actually. This was a notable strength at the school. Although I can't really say at the high school level as it didn't come up for us. So can't say about career advising. They did a career test on kids at 9th grade. My son said it was fun enough, but that's about it. Maybe they'd have been doing more in the upper high school years.

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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: Huge libraries given the size of the school. Never ran out of room, lots of titles, and if they don't have it and you want it, they'll order it for you. Really responsive and tons of money for the library program.

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

B: It's pretty well resourced. I liked that it was all PC. They were talking about putting in some Mac computers, but honestly I'd have found that confusing to be some of each. I was very happy wtih the PC choice. Each library had a class's worth of computers for instruction and there were laptop carts that could be brought to the classroom and in elementary each gtrade level had three computers in a common area for short research that just a few kids might need, but not a whole class group. As they were near the classroom, it made it easier for the teacher to manage. In Middle School, there were many Smart Boards, but not all classes had them. I hear they were getting a full set. In Middle school and in High School there were (one ofr each) tech rooms in addition to what was in the library so a teacher could bring his or her kids to that room to run a class on the computers as needed, which we did sometimes.

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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. Excellent sports offerings for those who want to try out for a team and very good programs for simple PE, including running, competitive games, swimming lessons, ice skating (they flood two area in winter so they have temporary ice rinks during the freezing months. Very nice program.

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

A: A very good ration. I'd say about 1:18. Certianly at the middle school and elementary level. I'm less sure about high school.

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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?

A: It's IB diploma in high school. I'm not sure if they offer any AP or not as my kids weren't that age yet. Elementary is IB as well, but middle school and teh first two years of high school are not. It was fine though, in my opinion. I never missed it at all for my kids, and I taught IB, so I saw it both ways. The school has an excellent curriculum all the way through, for the most part (again, except as noted with the science in elementary school and the math in middle school), but in elementary it was IB and still had the science problem, so being IB didn't actually effect the issue. Some peopel would have prefered that they'd have either offered all IB or no IB, but I really found it was no problem at all.

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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: Very good. There is art most of the year. I'd have prefered it be offered all year. There is music offered all year and it is a more complete program. If they offered art all year, as they do with music, I'd give the school an A.

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

Yes. And tehy do. Some have strong accents, but really that's just among the teaching assistants when it rarely is the case.

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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.

Nope.

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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?

Absolutely. Lots.

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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. A lot of the kids at school live at the compound right next to the school, or one that is a little farther out of town, and both of those compounds are for mixed nationalities, so kids mix with locals both at school and after school. For the US Embassy, some kids live at the embassy, and they probably mix less.

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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.

I don't think so.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

The warm and welcoming environment that makes a really nice community feeling for the kids. The school is open to parents and families can use the grounds when not being used for official school business, and that makes it feel like an extention of your neighborhood, which we loved.

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2. Greatest challenge?

Russia is dark. People can get grumpy in the winter. But it's not that bad.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Absolutely. My children were happy there and they were learning well and challenged and cared for. I loved it. They loved it. Perfect blend!

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Moscow, Russia 12/01/12

Anglo-American School of Moscow

School Website

http://www.aas.ru


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?

2nd & 3rd grade.5th and 6th grade.

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

2011-2012, 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)?

U.S. Embassy

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Admissions & Welcome:

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

A - as far as I can tell

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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+ - excellent assemblies and open-houses before school starts to familiarize students/parents with the school policy and curriculum.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. For the following attributes, down to the next blank box, grade your experience at the school on a scale of A to F with comments:

B+ -- I've been very pleased overall with the treatment, education, and opportunities my children have received at AAS.

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

The younger grades 2-3, the school is excellent.My daughter is getting a more rigorous curriculum than we received in Maryland.I feel she's getting a more comprehensive and useful education.She has had wonderful, caring, teachers.The classes have been managed well with a great environment.5th grade was difficult for my son, as his teacher was trying to "prepare" the kids for the rigors of junior high.It made for a very stressful year.6th grade is a part of middle school, here.Middle school has been demanding, but very good for my son.His teachers communicate well with us.There are many, many extracurricular activities for kids of all ages.Sports teams are available.The school cafeteria, gym, pool, and library are open to all families of the school.

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3. 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:

C+.Originally the Anglo-American School was limited to children of the British, Canadian, and US Embassies.A Few years ago they opened enrollment to Russians as well -- great source of income for the school.It is a mark of prestige for the Russians to send their kids to AAS or the British School.The administration appears hesitant to punish or regulate Russian students for fear of offending their rich, powerful parents.It's not to the extent of injuring the Anglo-students, though.

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

A+teachers respond quickly to emails.Teacher have always been willing to meet with me, whenever necessary.Parent-teacher conferences constantly.

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

A - My son has some challenges.The school was VERY helpful.He even got to take Occupational Therapy classes once a week during school-time.It was expensive - $2000 for the year, but very helpful.The school counselors are very involved and helpful.

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

A+ - elementary school - swimming club, jewelry making club, pottery club, art club, choir club, soccer, ice skating, homework club, computer club, etc.

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7. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

A - Teachers show a lot of interest in each student and their progress.

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8. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

A - just enough to reinforce lessons.Having kids write a lot in the early grades.Very happy with amount of homework.

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9. Administration-parent communication:

A If necessary to contact the principals, I've never had a problem getting a hold of them.

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10. Teacher-student communication:

B+ - My daughter has had great teachers who made their expectations clear.My son had a 5th grade teacher who just wasn't explicit enough for my son to comprehend.He needs detailed instructions that she wasn't willing to give - just didn't have the time.Hopefully she'll be retired by the time your kids attend.

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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?

no.

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

yes.My son had Occupational Therapy once a week (it was very helpful).He also visits with the middle school counselor as needed.

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

yes.The only glitch was my 5th grader's teacher.She was not willing to implement some accommodations until we obtained administrative assistance.She adapted eventually, grudgingly.Just a case of one teacher - not widespread at this school at all.

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

yes. as far as I know.

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

Yes - art, music, drama, debate, sports.

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

none.

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

yes. -- The kids wear uniforms which initially cost a bit, but you'd buy clothes for your kids anyway.Appropriate uniforms available at Gap, Marks & Spencer, Old Navy. Etc.Just check school website for standards.I've heard of other kids going on debate trips, sports trips, etc.

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18. What activities do you feel are missing?

None.

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

Yes.They've been great!!

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

Yes.Being an international school, nearly all the schools are new (except the uber-rich Russian students).

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

None.

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Academics & Resources:

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

A+ The middle school counselor especially is very proactive.His door is always open.He has organized discussion groups/presentations on common middle school challenges.Good email communication.Good concern over individual students.

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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+ - two libraries.One in elementary grades, one in high school / middle school grades. (The building is large, with wings and floors sectioned off for certain grades.)

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

A+ - laptops are available from the "computer carts" for middle school students whenever necessary.All grades and much teacher communication is online.Grade school students learn early to make presentations on power-point, etc.They use word-processing applications all the time.My daughter is required to play "math-games" on a certain website each day at home.

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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 - All students have PE at least twice a week with a qualified PE teacher.In the warm months they swim once a week.In the winter months they ice skate once a week.

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

A - My daughter's class has 18 students (3rd grade), my sons classes also seem to be below 20 in middle school.

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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?

A - I don't have high school students, but I've heard other mothers talking about the IB classes.

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

yes.

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

A - all grades in grade school have art once a week with a specific art teacher.Musical instrument instruction also available for all grades.My son is learning cello.Grades 2-3 do an after-school drama club, with a performance (last year they did Jungle Book).Grades 4-5 also do an after-school drama club, with a performance (last year they did Alice in Wonderland).Great!

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

yes.

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

no.Unsure if it is available.My daughter does have difference math groups in her 3rd grade class as well as different reading groups.

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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.I've described them above.

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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.Kids usually associate with the kids of their living complex.Embassy compound kids associate with embassy compound kids.Rosinka kids associate with Rosinka kids.Pokrovsky kids (that was us) associate with Prokrovsky kids.

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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.My daughter was being teased by a Russian boy.It took a lot in order to get the administration to take action against him.His father was rich/powerful.It's better now.My son is always teased and excluded, no matter the school.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

How it welcomes family involvement, use of facilities, diversity of cultures, etc.Fantastic!

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2. Greatest challenge?

Dealing with local Russian students and their influential parents.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Yes - It's fulfilled all our needs.Very satisfactory.Very pleased with our kids' overall experience.

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Moscow, Russia 08/28/10

Anglo American School of Moscow

School Website

http://www.aas.ru


Background Information:

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

Parent and 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?

6th-9th

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

2009-2010

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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)?

US Embassy

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Admissions & Welcome:

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

I really don't know.

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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: Like most international schools, an immense amount of support is offered for both leaving kids and kids being left. Everyone understands. Everyone is sympathetic.

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Administration & School Procedures:

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

I taught 4th grade last year and will teach 7th grade this year. Teachers get along well, work well together and are committed to providing the best education they can. They work quite hard. I haven't met any bad teachers. Sure, some are better than others, but I would warn anyone off of any of the teachers that I've met or worked with. When I was given a choice which teacher I wanted for my own kids (teachers do get that benefit of choosing), I told them I felt comfortable letting them choose based on what they know about my children. I think the school works hard to match kids well and I have faith in the other teachers. I don't know what a non-teaching parent would feel. I'm sure being inside as a teacher, I have a different view.

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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: because embassy kids in US, UK and Canadian embassies have guaranteed enrollment, then second tier goes to expats, and third tier goes to local Russians, I am sure the local Russians aren't pleased. Sometimes they have more than one child on the waiting list, but only one gets in and the other doesn't for another year, and that's awkward for them. But as an embassy family, I have no complaints, of course. In all other ways, once a child is in, they are treated all the same and in that sense I'd give the school an 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: Most parents are happy. As my oldest is entering high school just now, I have to say I'm a bit in the dark about what he has to do and I'd have appreciated a "hello parent of a new high school student" email or something to tell me what he has to do. He hasn't gotten anything either. But at the lower levels, there's good communication, I believe.

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

B: There is an almost full time differentiation coach at the school to support teachers in meeting the needs of the "high flyers" and there is a support team for kids with challenges. There is a large ESOL team as well, giving "sheltered instruction" in the classroom rather than pull out support. I'd say the support team is a bit overtaxed. As a teacher, I wish there had been another staff member in that department, or even two more, so my students with needs could have had more one on one time, but they did their best and did a good job. If your child is truly has special needs that require a gifted and talented program, I'm not sure the classroom differentiation that's offered in elementary school will feel like quite enough support to challenge them, but it's good. I'd give the school a B for supporting students with challenges, a C in offering support for Gifted students, and a B in ESOL.

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

Pretty good. I'd give that an A- (if only because I really would have liked to see track and field in middle school, but they only have long distance running and I don't think it would have been hard to put together baseball for middle and high school, and they only have softball). But really, pretty good.

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6. Maintenance of appropriately high standards for all students:

It is a very challenging program. As I say, however, if a child is exceedingly gifted in a particular area, maybe less so.

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7. Homework assigned (quality, quantity):

Elementary is meant to give about 45 minutes of homework per night. In Middle School it's about an hour a night, with project crunch times that mean four or more hours in a day on a few weekends a year. That didn't happen more than four times, I don't think, for either of my children.

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8. Administration-parent communication:

Not sure. It seems good to me.

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9. Teacher-student communication:

A: Small class sizes allow for excellent communication between teachers and 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?

Yes. Elementary doesn't do a lot for the advanced students. Teacher by teacher that's different. But generally, not a lot there for them. For the average or challenged students, the students are definitely appropriately challenged. I'm sure of that at the elementary level, I think that's the case in middle school and I don't know about high school yet. I have heard good things about the level of challenge there too.

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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:

One did. I felt the assistance was excellent.

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

Yes. Definitely.

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

As mentioned earlier, more or less, but it could be much better.

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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. I think so.

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

I'm perfectly satisfied.

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

Very much so. Starting in 6th grade there's one annual trip for all class groups. If a child is on a "travelling team" for sports, they travel abroad with a team. If the child is in the theater program or mathcounts, or speech and debate, model UN or knowlege bowl, they travel abroad. The costs for these trips are not covered by the school. They are above and beyond tuition.

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17. What activities do you feel are missing?

Middle school after school activities for non-athletes are a bit thin. Not awful or anything. I just think it could be better.

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

Yes.

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

I think so.

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

I can't think of anything.

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Academics & Resources:

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

The school has the usual guidance counselors but also a school psychologist which is a real luxury. This is our 4th international school and we've never had that before. It means psycho-educational testing can be done at school, rather than having to send kids to another country to have them done. That's a massive time and stress saver.

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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: Excellent libraries. Two of them. One for elementary and one for the higher grades. Packed with computers and the usual library stuff. Good selection. Seemingly unlimited budget. If you ask for a book, they will order it for you, almost no matter what. It'll arrive within a few weeks. That's a great service, for me both as a parent and a teacher.

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

B-: For a school with this school's resources, I think it could do much, much better, but it's pretty good just the same. There are the usual computer rooms and roving laptop carts for classes to use as needed. There is computer time for all students through the 6th grade as a stand-alone class (IT), and after that a lot of IT support as needed. I have a Smart board in middle school, but didn't in 4th grade. Elementary is a little slow to fit out all classes with the Smart boards. Middle is doing better, but not at 100% yet. Not sure about high school. Teachers use tech in the curriculum through all grade levels.

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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: As mentioned above, there is the full range of sports, excepting very American sports. My kids love the PE program in middle school. As a former elementary school teacher, I can also attest that the elementary school kids also really enjoy PE and the intramural teams and the playground is awesome.

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

Usually 18:1. In certain specialists' classes (languages, health, etc.) it can be 10:1. I teach one class that's 9:1. I teach another that is 17:1. I never have more than 17 students in my current middle school schedule.

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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?

The school is an IB school in elementary and in 11th and 12th grades, but not in middle school. It may become IB in middle school one day too, but there are no plans for it to happen, so certainly no time soon. I don't know about AP, to be honest. I have no high school experience.

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

Yes. My kids get some homework, but not buckets of it. I'm pleased.

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

A: It's a school of 1,300 kids and it's got lots of revenue to draw from, so all of the usual big international school offerings are available here. My son hoped for American football or baseball and found no football and only softball for boys, but that's a European thing. It's hard to find very American sports like he likes while abroad. He understands that. But there's a huge theater and a small theater, an indoor pool, tennis courts, big fields, astro turf and grass fields, ice rinks in winter, two gyms, etc. It's a good program. I'm not so sure about art. It seems like a good program. Theater is a real draw though, for sure.

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

Yes. The lead teachers in elementary are all fluent speakers. The teaching assistants are pretty good English speakers and sometimes excellent English speakers, and in middle and high school, all core teachers are native English speakers. Foreign language teachers frequently are not native English speakers, but they are fluent English speakers in every case I've seen.

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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.

Nope.

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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?

In elementary it's quite a good range. In middle school it's not that great. In high school it's pretty good again, I think.

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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?

Maybe. Depends where the kids live. There is a housing complex next to the school with kids from all over. They definitely socialize with other expat kids in tht complex. If the kids live at the US Embassy compound, not so much.

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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.

I don't think so.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What is the greatest strength of this school?

It's heart. The school really cares about the kids and works to make it the best place it can be. It never is satisfied with what it has at the moment. It always strives for improvement. This year the focus is on improving tech at the school. Next year, it'll be something else.

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2. Greatest challenge?

There isn't any glaring challenge. I guess I always fall back on not serving gifted and talented as well as it ought to, though again, there certainly is service in this area; I just think it could be better.

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3. Would you choose this school again? Why?

Absolutely. This is our 4th expat school, and so far it's my favorite, by far. My kids say they love it too and that it's far and away their favorite as well.

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