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American Community School Abu Dhabi

American Community School Abu Dhabi

American Community School Abu Dhabi was established in 1972, on land donated by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The school was founded with the aim of serving the American community, as well as students of other nationalities, within the Abu Dhabi community. It is a K-12, US/IB co-educational school located in Al Bateen, and currently hosts 1,094 students.

Over 50 nationalities are represented in total, but those with American origins dominate accounting for 57% of the student body, followed by Europeans with 13%, Canadians with 8%, and then Asians with 7%. Arab origin students are very much in a minority accounting for approximately 6%. Approximately 10% of students have been identified as having SEN requirements.

The school is currently rated A2 by the Abu Dhabi education regulator – a jump of one place from its last inspection. A is the top “performing” band, and the school sits just below the A1, Outstanding rating. A2 schools are described as “Very Good”.

ACS recruits relatively experienced teachers, but there is a good mix: The minimum requirement is a Bachelor’s degree with two years of teaching experience.  The school employs 115 teachers in total, 91 of whom hold a teaching certificate or credential, 49 have a Bachelor’s degree, 60 hold a Master’s and 6 have Doctorates. Teachers are said to be well qualified, to know their subjects well and in general skillful in delivering interesting and engaging lessons. There is moreover one teacher to every nine students  – very much top tier, and an indication of where fees are going.

Teachers are moreover very aware of this. The school currently has a teacher turnover running at about 2% while the average in the UAE is 18-20%, so clearly this figure is very impressive indeed. As a parent it means one thing – stability for your child. The only negative, and that’s only if you want to find one, is that new staff bring a freshness and new ideas. A 2% turnover in staff means new faces at least will be few and far between.

The school is a member of NESA (Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools), and the school says it provides professional learning and collaboration opportunities for its staff. “Teachers set professional goals, conduct action research with colleagues, collaborate on educational projects, and attend conferences, all within the Framework for Growth program.” Not for profit schools in the UAE tend to offer more opportunities for staff to continue to develop professional expertise, and ACS seems to be no exception.

The school offers a PK-12 American-style curriculum, but academic students in grades 11 and 12 are offered the opportunity to participate in the IBO’s Diploma Programme. Says the school: “Our school mission of cultivating well-rounded and responsible thinkers and leaders with a global perspective is evident in our many-faceted curricular offerings across the school, including a commitment to service learning at all divisions.”

Because it streams, perhaps it is unsurprising that almost all students who take the Diploma, pass. According to stats released by the school, 97% pass with an average point score of 35, against a world average 32.9. Access to a good red brick UK university requires around 35 points. To get into an Oxbridge requires 40-41 plus.

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Of the non-full IB Diploma students, 97% of students at ACS sit one or more IB papers with an average score of 5.2 and 41% achieving the highest tier scoring of Grade 6 or higher.

The US High School Diploma programme is based on Common Core State Standards [CCCS] and accredited by the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools [MSA].

The school is however accredited by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA) and the curriculum is described by Abu Dhabi’s education regulator as “broad and balanced” with optional subjects available in the middle and high school, including art, drama, music, ICT, Spanish and French. There is also the opportunity to “enrich the experience” through extra and co‐curricular activities like sports and subject linked clubs. The school aims to develop independent, articulate thinkers and learners.

One area of weakness in teaching in the past has been for high achievers, with the delivery of the curriculum not adaptive enough to keep them engaged and challenged. This is not mentioned in the school’s latest ADEC report, but, interestingly, the school is now said to have no academically gifted students.

Given the school is selective on admissions this is perhaps surprising.  For younger students an assessment is made of their individual skills and aptitudes while older students are assessed on their reading and mathematical skills and are required to present records of achievement from their previous school.  Students with limited skills in English are not permitted to remain after Grade 5 if they have not gained proficiency.

Arabic studies is also rated as only satisfactory in the school’s latest report.

Facilities at the school are very good with swimming pool, gymnasium, football field and a playground for elementary school students. It is also well resourced, in particular in terms of technology. However, they would not longer be described as best in class. This is a school where you pay for a record of success, its history, and ultimately its investment in its teachers rather than in the buildings.

And you do pay… Fees are premium – and could be considered Premium Plus considering this is Abu Dhabi where schools are usually commercially more conservative. They range from 44,500 AED in KG1 to 81,400 AED in Years 9 -12. The school also changes a non‐refundable application fee of AED 300 and a one‐time facility fee of AED 18,700.

 

Reports

ADEC Inspection Report, 2013 – American Community School

ADEC Inspection Report, 2015, – American Community School

 

Location

 

 

If you are the owner of the school and note any factual inaccuracies, or would like to update any information, please do not hesitate to contact us at editor@edu2021.com. Please also complete the WSA Official School Questionnaire which may be found here.

 

Update on March 6, 2016 | Reviewed by David on June 30, 2012

2 Comments

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  1. Dee says
    May 5, 2016, 11:24 pm

    While it used to have a great curriculum, the exorbitant fees do not compensate for the scrappy facilities and diminishing quality of education. Parents’ tuition money is being poorly used, a majority of it is invested in technology as opposed to getting better rooms, chairs, lockers, etc.

    Also, there is a 1-12 grading system in high school and a 1-4 grading system in middle school that doesn’t translate well when it comes to transcripts. Good luck to parents on dealing with that.

    Reply
  2. Steve says
    October 3, 2014, 11:02 pm

    Easily the best American school in Abu Dhabi. Unlike GEMS American Academy, which is all style and no substance, this is the real deal. Great solid teachers, academics, extracurricular activities, and facilities mean your kids will get a great education and preparation for the future.

    Reply

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