American International School – Riyadh is a US curriculum school catering students from age 3+ to 18 (pre-KG to Grade 12). Established in 1963, the school offers the IB Diploma Programmes to students in Grades 11 and 12, who also qualify with a High School Diploma.
Originally known as the American Preparatory School at is foundation in 1963, the name of American International School – Riyadh has gone through several iterations over the almost 60 years since its foundation.
The original school opened with a cohort of seven students under the leadership of its founder and first principal, Mrs. Genevra Abou Seoud. In 1965, APS merged with a Ford Foundation school to form the Riyadh International Community School (RICS) and its enrollment rose steadily from less than 400 students to over 1,500. At the request of the Ministry of Education, the school name changed again in 1982, to the Saudi Arabian International School – Riyadh (SAIS-R).
In 1999, the school made its final name change to the American International School-Riyadh (AIS-R) and in the same year, the school also decided to expand to Grades 10, 11 and 12 and to offer the IB Diploma programme, enabling twelve students in AIS-R’s first graduating class to be the school’s first IB Diploma Programme candidates in 2002. AIS-R continues to offer both an American High School Diploma and the IB Diploma, with many students graduating with both.
In addition to the IB accreditation, AIS-R is also accredited by NEASC (the New England Association of Schools and Colleges) ensuring the recognition of its High School Diploma by US colleges and universities, and by the Council for International Schools (CIS) with whom it initiated six collaborated KG-12 projects to achieve Global Citizenship Certification, which was awarded in May 2017. In November 2020, AIS-R completed its re-accreditation with CIS and NEASC, being awarded a five year re-accreditation status by both agencies in January 2021.
The AIS-R school website introduces its school and its community thus: "We are AIS-R EAGLES: AIS-R is a proud mission-driven community of learners and leaders, immersed in an ethos of shared beliefs, values, and celebration." AIS-R's Mission is “Together, we cultivate inquisitive, independent, and resilient learners who inspire positive change in their communities.”
In a statement of AIS-R’s Core Values, we are told:
“We believe that...
Every individual has equal worth and dignity.
We are stronger when we embrace and learn from the diversity of our community.
Learning is a lifelong journey and is a catalyst for personal growth.
Our individual actions impact our interconnected global communities.
Open and honest communication builds trusting relationships.
An AIS-R global citizen possesses the understandings, skills, values, and mindset to take meaningful action in creating a more inclusive, sustainable, and peaceful world.”
Global citizenship is said to lie at the heart of the AIS-R Mission, Eagle Honor Code and the IB Mission.
“At AIS-R, students are educated and inspired to be responsible, productive and ethical global citizens. The IB Mission aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better, more peaceful world, through intercultural understanding and respect.”
“As a modern learning organization, AIS-R is dedicated to nurturing responsive, adaptive, and motivated global citizens through a dynamic, strengths-based, and wellbeing educational program fortified through the AIS-R Eagle Honor Code.”
AIS-R now has approximately 1,650 students from 60 countries. The majority of students are American (27%), Saudi (20%) and Canadian (10%) nationals. In pre-KG, there are 16 students per class, growing to 18 in KG1, 20 in KG2, 21 in Grade 1, and 22 in Grade 2. Grades 3 to 5 average 23 students and Grades 6 to 12, 24. This size of class is in line with premium schools in other Middle Eastern countries.
Students are supported by a diverse group of teachers, with just under half (46%) coming from the US, 24% from Canada, 5% from other English-speaking countries (UK, Australia) and the balance from a range of nationalities.
Commenting on his faculty, Superintendent Colin Broudreau states “The heart of what makes AIS-R special are the incredible teachers that work with our Eagles each and every day. These talented educators have worked for years on perfecting their craft and guide students of all ages to be their best in a caring and collaborative environment.”
As leader of the school, Superintendent Broudreau joined AIS-R in 2021 for the start of the new academic year. Mr. Broudreau is a Canadian national who studied for a Bachelor’s Degree in English and History in at university in Halifax, Nova Scotia, prior to completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education and Teaching at the University of Maine, and his Master’s Degree at the State University of New York College in in Buffalo, NY. Although Mr. Broudreau’s previous leadership role was as Head of School at the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, Spain, where he spent five years, he is not new to the Middle East, having spent the previous 9 years at the American School of Doha, where he completed his assignment as High School Principal.
Mr. Broudreau is supported by a Senior Leadership team that includes Mike Romard, Elementary School Principal, Travis Klump, Middle School Principal, Justin Walsh, High School Principal, Amanda Knight, Director of Learning, and Racha Abou Ismail, Director of Admissions.
The curriculum is based upon US national standards including the Common Core for English Language Arts and Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards for Science, National Core Arts Standards for Fine and Performing Arts, C3 for Social Studies and AERO Common Core+ for other specialists courses. As an IB World School, AIS-R offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme for its 11th and 12th grade High School students.
Core subjects include Mathematics, English Language, Science /STEM, Wellness, Health, and Fitness, Social Studies, Visual Arts, Technology, and Counseling. Students in KG2 to Grade 5 take Arabic language classes two times every five days, whilst from Grades 6 to 8, all students take Arabic culture and language, and may also take French as an additional language.
Students in Grades 9 and 10 may choose from Arabic or French, whilst students in Grades 11 and 12 may choose from Arabic, French, Arabic ab initio, French ab initio, or Spanish ab initio. In addition, the Ministry of Education mandates that all Saudi National students take Islamic studies once weekly.
Senior High School students studying the IB Diploma choose their subjects from the six groups specified by the International Baccalaureate Organisation - in Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Society (which includes Business and Management, Economics or Global Politics), Sciences (Biology, Chemistry or Physics), Mathematics, and The Arts (including either Theatre or Visual Arts). All IBDP students also participate in the writing of the Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, and in the Creativity, Action, Service element of the programme.
The school has a very clear policy with regard to the use of technology. Although textbooks are available as a resource, AIS-R does not support a “textbook” culture.
Instead, all students, beginning in Grade 3, are required to participate in AIS-R’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) 1:World programme. The school states that an important component of AIS-R’s learning programme is its blended learning platforms – something that has no doubt been developed significantly in the past two academic years with the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic and the closure of schools (including AIS-R) for prolonged periods. AIS-R utilizes several blended learning platforms to extend learning beyond the classroom.
The main communication and collaboration platforms are Blogs/Google (for KG to Grade 6) and Moodle/Google (for Grades 7 to 12). The school states that “student access to these services at home is essential for students to continue to work on assignments, to collaborate with peers and teachers, and learn what they missed in classes after absences. Parents can also access Blogs-SeeSaw and Moodle to stay informed about all the great learning that is happening in their children’s classes.”
The minimum requirement for new learners as of the 2021-22 school year is any iPad Pro, iPad 5th Generation, iPad Mini 4 or iPad Air 2, although the school recommends that families purchase the latest generation iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad or iPad Mini for the maximum usable life. From Grades 8- 12, students can use any Mac, PC laptop or Chromebook. AIS-R recommends the Macbook Air (13").
AIS-R also offer 'Resource Rich Environments' (RRE) providing media that are easily accessible to all learners, are specific to the learner, and which effectively enhance the curricular expectations through inquiry, research, and reflection. AIS-R’s on-line and physical resources include online databases through the Elementary, Middle and High school Learning Commons (libraries), various subscriptions to online news outlets and resources, and books from the Learning Commons (libraries).
After School Learning (ASL) is available to students who are looking for guidance or support in their subject areas; students may enroll in activities in a variety of subjects throughout the year such as athletics, computers, music, fine and performing arts.
As with all genuine American schools, there is much more to life for students that just the academic side of the school. AIS-R also offers a range of After School Activities (ASAs) including sports teams, art, music, games and a variety of other interests. AIS-R is involved in a local league - “ISSL-R” - International Schools Sports League-Riyadh, and in a national league: “SAIKAC” - Saudi Arabian Intra Kingdom Athletics Conference. The school offers an extensive athletics programme, participating in a variety of tournaments both inside and outside the Kingdom, giving students a range of opportunities to travel and play sports.
In addition, in common with the broad based approach of schools offering the IB programmes, there are a wide variety of clubs that offer service opportunities and develop leadership skills including Student Council, Model United Nations, TED, and Eagle Ambassadors. AIS-R also offers a fine and performing arts programme that includes student written and directed performances, as well as opportunities to participate in a variety of performances.
Popular within many US curriculum schools, ‘Week Without Walls’ sees Senior School students travel internationally and participate in internships and other learning opportunities locally. Prior to the Covid pandemic, as part of Week Without Walls, AIS-R High School students travelled to countries including Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Nepal, Romania, and Sri Lanka to learn about a variety of important global issues such as poverty, education, gender equality, and climate change.
Lower School students engage in learning activities that include field trips, service learning, outdoor activity, and athletics. Swimming, biking, running, camping, hiking, golf and other sports are offered to enable students to be active, healthy and enjoy the great outdoors.
Counseling Services and Social-Emotional Learning in all sections of the school support students as they develop as members of the global community. As a school committed to excellence and inspiring students to be “responsible, productive, ethical global citizens”, AIS-R focuses on connecting and collaborating with others within local and global communities, and nurturing a more sustainable planet.
The school has shown this commitment in recent years, through the support of fundraising efforts to aid refugees of civil war in Syria, including providing backpacks and school supplies to children, enabling them, in the midst of crisis, to continue to learn and grow.
Students and staff have volunteered at orphanages, animal shelters and hospitals in Riyadh, and sent financial aid through the AIS-R Foundation to partner schools (including Nepal following earthquakes and the Philippines following typhoon) to support families affected by natural disaster. AIS-R also aims to make a difference through providing annual support to the Children of Haiti Project (COHP), and the Eagle Services Team members and their families.
The school has also implemented a range of sustainable initiatives within the school, whilst as ‘Environmental Eagles’, as part of the CIS Global Citizenship Certification with the Council of International Schools, AIS-R created an Environmental Sustainability Handbook and Plan for reducing energy consumption, carbon emissions and waste.
According to the school, AIS-R has earned a 'solid reputation for rigorous academic pursuits, high student achievement, innovative practices, and exceptional programming'. This is reflected in the full accreditation awarded by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and the Council of International Schools (CIS), and the authorisation to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. The “International Certification” through CIS validates the school’s drive for intercultural understanding and global citizenship.
As a result, AIS-R’s graduates are offered places at an array of prestigious colleges and universities worldwide and the Class of 2021 accomplished the highest IB results in the history of AIS-R with a 100% pass rate. 58% of AIS-R graduates attend university in the United States, 10% attend in Canada, 28% in the United Kingdom, 2% in the Middle East, and 2% throughout the rest of the world.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com is a strong advocate of the full publication of external examination results, as we believe that this is a key (though not the only) element to decision-making for parents and senior students when making their school choices. Whilst it is increasingly common among schools in the UK, Europe, and South-East Asia to publish full results, this is not yet the case in the Middle East (though an increasing number of the 48 schools in the UAE that offer the IB Diploma programme do now support WhichSchoolAdvisor.com in this regard). We would very much like to see AIS-R lead the IB schools in Saudi Arabia in this regard.
As part of its ongoing assessment programme, AIS-R administers standardised testing, including the NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test to measure growth and to inform classroom teaching. Students from Grades 1 to 9 take the MAP test in the fall and spring, with some grades also testing in the Winter. The College Board PSAT, SAT, and IB DP Diploma Programme exams are also administered in the High School.
The school relocated to newly built, state-of-the-art campus in 2014-15 highlights of which are activity-rich classrooms, ultramodern STEM, Robotics and Science labs, a 700-seat performance arts theatre and grass playing fields.
Current facilities and resources include 130 classrooms with 120 with Interactive Flat Screens, 12 science laboratories, three technology labs, five STEM labs and one Robotics Lab, two ‘Learning Commons’ (libraries) with a combined collection of 52,700 volumes, in addition to a collection of 36,000 volumes for the Lower School classroom libraries.
Recent developments have included a new Maker Space room in the High School Learning Commons (library), a dedicated Early Childhood Education Activity Centre, a Performing Arts Centre including rooms for Music instruction, and a Black Box Theatre for drama instruction and two Performing Arts classrooms in the Elementary school. There is also a purpose-built News Broadcast Studio--Eagle News Network (ENN) and campus-wide wireless internet coverage. Facilities also include the Eagle Eco Center and an Elementary School Sustainable Garden in support of the school’s environmental focus.
Students have access to two Dining Halls (one for KG-Grade 5 students, one for Grades 6-12) with a full service kitchen on campus, and the Eagles Nest Café. All students in KG2 to Grade 5 eat lunch in the K-5 Dining Hall, where they are supervised by teachers and support staff. While all KG2 students bring their own lunch to school each day, students in Grades 1 to 5 can either bring their own lunch or purchase a healthy hot lunch and drink.
Students may buy lunch in the G6-12 Dining Hall. A diverse and healthy menu is available that includes a hot lunch, a selection of western and international foods, a salad bar, and a variety of beverages. Students who do not wish to purchase their food at school are welcome to bring their own snacks and lunches from home.
Outside, younger students have access to purpose-built outdoor play areas whilst sports facilities include basketball and four tennis courts, two air-conditioned gymnasia with space for Wellness Health and Fitness education classes, and a total of five sections each containing a court for basketball, volleyball and three courts for badminton, a state-of-the-art weight room with cardiovascular equipment, gymnastics room, and sports fields for soccer and softball, and a 400m running track with high jump, long jump and shot-put circle.
Clearly one of the oldest established international schools in Riyadh, American International School Riyadh is inevitably one of the first school names to come to mind for families planning to relocate or for local families seeking a quality US education, that through the provision of the IB Diploma Programme, potentially opens university doors in many other countries. It is also one of the most expensive schools operating within the city and expectations are therefore likely to be very high.
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Tuition fees (inclusive of VAT) range from 43,167.55 SR for Pre-K to 58,088.00 SR in KG1. KG2 to Grade 5 fees are 95,551.20 SR, Grades 6 – 8 are 98,836.75 SR, and Grades 9 - 12 108,346.10 SR.
There are a range of further fees including:
Application Fee - Non-Saudi Applicant SAR 4312.50 (includes 15% VAT) Saudi Applicant SAR 3750 (0% VAT)*
A non-refundable Registration Fee of 14,950 SAR (13,000 SAR without VAT) is required for all newly admitted students.
A non-refundable, one-time Capital Fee of 15,525 SAR (13,500 SAR without VAT) for students in Pre-K through Grade 8, and 23,000 SAR (20,000 SAR without VAT) for students in Grade 9 through Grade 12, is required for each new student entering AIS-R.
In order to plan for the following school year, AIS-R collects a non-refundable seat deposit from both new students (who register between February 1 and summer break) and returning students. New students registering during this time period must pay the seat deposit within two school days of receiving their acceptance notification in order to guarantee their seat for the upcoming school year. Returning students who do not pay the seat deposit will not be guaranteed their seat for the following year, will be placed in the Wait Pool, and will be contacted if a seat becomes available. The seat deposit is not an additional fee as this amount will be credited towards the first semester tuition payment of the year. Seat deposit is due in the spring and is approximately 10% of the tuition.
This fee is applicable to all students who receive additional services from a Learning Strategies teacher. Parents will be notified if these services will be required as a condition for their child’s admission. The Learning Strategies fee is 7,726.50 SAR (6,750 SAR without VAT) and is required on an annual basis.
English Language Learner fee
Beginning in Grade 1, supplementary ELL instruction is provided for an additional fee to those students requiring assistance with English language acquisition. Testing and teacher recommendation determines student eligibility for ELL instruction. The ELL fee is 7,726.50 SAR (6,750 SAR without VAT) and is required on an annual basis.
Arabic Language Programme
ALPS is an optional after-school Arabic Language program (speaking, reading, and writing) offered to students in Grades 1 to 12 (KG2 ALPS classes may be offered if a minimum of 8 students enroll). The ALPS fee is 6,900 SAR (6,000 SAR without VAT) per year.
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