Which US School in Singapore?

While the number of schools offering a US based education is limited in Singapore, its three American schools each offer a very different educational pathway from kindergarten through to college.
Which US School in Singapore?
By Carli Allan
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If you are considering a US-styled education for your child, you have three choices of international school in Singapore. These range from the enormous Singapore American School to the much smaller International Community School (Singapore), and include the IB continuum school, Stamford American International.

These three, all-through schools base their teaching on the frameworks of American schools. Each has a very American orientation, and each offers a US High School Diploma as the school leaving qualification. They are all accredited by WASC (Western Association of Colleges and Schools), a US-based approved agency. As well as being popular with families relocating from the US, these schools also attract students from a host of other countries. As well as admissions being open to all nationalities, the curriculum has an international perspective that will appeal to many.

Read more: US Curriculum Schools: What Every Parent Should Know…

Here’s everything you need to know about the three US schools in Singapore, including curriculum, admissions requirements, cost, and location.

Stamford American International School



At a glance

  • Enrolment: Pre-Nursery – Grade 12
  • US Accreditation: WASC
  • Qualifications: Students can graduate with the US accredited Stamford High School Diploma with a choice of three different pathways – the full IB Diploma, or AP International Diploma, or a blended programme; there are 19 AP courses to select from
  • Early years: Teaching follows ‘Teaching Strategies Gold’ which is aligned to the USA Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework
  • Elementary curriculum: IB Primary Years Program (PYP) integrated with American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards
  • Middle school curriculum: IB Middle Years Program (IB MYP) integrated with American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards
  • Secondary curriculum: SAIS is the only school in Singapore to offer both Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP)
  • Assessment: Student achievement is benchmarked to American standards each Fall and Spring in an external assessment called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • How is the US curriculum adapted for an international school? Mandarin and Spanish are taught daily by specialists from 18 months to 11 years; there is a 1:1 iPad or MacBook programme from KG; and it offers the world-renowned Suzuki Violin Programme from the age of three, with the option to progress to the cello from the age of five
  • University placements: 44.5% attend a US university
  • 2019 AP results: Average grade of 3.58 points out of a potential 5 points, which is higher than the global average of 2.89
  • Annual tuition fees: $24,406 to $42,590
  • Admission: Standardised achievement test scores and/or educational assessment

Why choose Stamford American International School (SAIS)?
Stamford American International School (SAIS) is an all-through IB school that follows the Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Programmes. As well as being an IB continuum school, it benefits from being part of the global education group Cognita, and it offers impressive language, music and technology courses that make it an attractive option for many international families.

However, SAIS stands apart from other IB schools in Singapore as a very US-centric school; it delivers an international education that is rooted in American standards and based on American educational principles.

Teaching and learning are based on the challenging American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards and Common Core Plus frameworks, both US frameworks for curriculum consistency in Kindergarten through to Grade 12. Students’ progress is tracked by US-led Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments twice a year in maths and reading; Grades 3 and above are also assessed in science. This means that an SAIS education is consistent with American stateside schools.

In the last two years of secondary school, students decide whether to follow either the IBDP or AP pathway; in Grades 11-12, students can choose from more than 40 IB courses or more than 15 AP courses. 75% of students take the IB pathway and all students graduate with a US accredited High School Diploma, if they qualify.

It’s a large school with more than 3,000 students; while there are more than 75 nationalities in the school, the highest percentage of students are from the US. As you’d expect from a school with such a big American ‘heart’, there’s a strong focus on sport. There are two large indoor gyms, one for elementary and one for the high school, a fully equipped gymnastics centre, sports pitches, two swimming pools, rooftop tennis courts, dance studios, a rock–climbing wall – and a golf academy with putting greens and a swing studio.

Read our full review of Stamford American International School (SAIS).

International Community School (Singapore)



At a glance

  • Enrolment: Pre-Nursery – Grade 12
  • US Accreditation: WASC
  • Curriculum: US/AP curriculum
  • Qualifications: AP, US accredited High School Diploma
  • Assessment: Student achievement is benchmarked to American standards each Fall and Spring in an external assessment called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • How is the US curriculum adapted for an international school? Mandarin is taught daily by specialists; there is a 1:1 device programme from Grades 4-12; high school Week Without Walls service-learning programme
  • Teachers: 85% of teaching staff are from the United States
  • University placements: 80% of graduates attend US universities
    2019 AP results: 77% scored 3-plus, 49% scored 4-plus, and 23% scored 5
  • Annual tuition fees: $23,155 to $33,635
  • Admission: Academic assessments to determine grade placement for students coming “from various countries and educational systems around the world”

Why choose International Community School (Singapore)?
ICS stands apart from other US schools in Singapore for various reasons. With a community of just 450 students, it is by far the smallest. It is a Christian school where the education is based on Christian values, and all students attend Bible class four days a week. And its fees, which range from $23,155 for kindergarten to $33,635 for Grade 12, are in the mid-range bracket.

Although it doesn't advertise the fact in its name, ICS is a US-style school where teaching is heavily influenced by American methods. It follows a US curriculum based upon Common Core State Standards for English and Mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); the school has also developed its own social studies curriculum based on the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) standards.

ICS also follows the guidelines of US-based professional organisations such as National Council of Teaching of English (NCTE), International Reading Association (IRA), National Council on Teaching Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Social Studies (NCSS), National Standards for Art Education (NSAE). Even the standards for its Mandarin curriculum are based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) standards. Also, the school champions a love of reading by adopting the Accelerated Reader programme (very popular in US schools).

In high school, students work towards their SATs and AP courses. They have a choice of up to 20 AP courses including sciences, English, studio art, history, maths, music, psychology, Spanish and Chinese. Other subjects studied include the core subjects, Spanish, Mandarin, PE, the arts, technology, social studies and the Bible. All Grade 12 students end their education by completing a Capstone project.

The curriculum is delivered by predominantly US teachers (85%), and ICS follows the US two-semester system with the year beginning in mid-August and ending in late May.

Read our full review of International Community School (Singapore)

Singapore American School



At a glance

  • Enrolment: Pre-Nursery – Grade 12
  • US Accreditation: WASC
  • Qualifications: AP, US accredited High School Diploma
  • Curriculum: US/AP curriculum including AP Capstone Diploma Programme
  • Assessment: Student achievement is benchmarked to American standards each Fall and Spring in an external assessment called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
  • How is the US curriculum adapted for an international school? Chinese immersion programme from kindergarten; Mandarin is taught daily by specialists; there is a 1:1 device programme from KG to Grade-12; gamelan music room; annual Classroom Without Walls programme
  • Teachers: 75% of teaching staff are from the United States
  • Students: The student body is 55% American and 45% from other nations
  • University placements: 78% of graduates attend US universities
    2019 AP results: Average grade of 4.23 points out of a potential 5 points; 79% scored 4-plus, and 96% scored 3-plus
  • Annual tuition fees: $22,168 to $35,328. Also, US passport holders pay a reduced non-refundable registration fee of $7,490 compared to non-US passport holders who pay $9,630
  • Admission: Assignment to a grade level is based on previous school records, placement testing when required, and within the below age requirements

Why choose Singapore American School?
Founded in 1956 by a group of American expats, SAS is a popular non-profit school in northern Singapore with a predominantly American student population. Today it’s one of Singapore’s largest international schools, with around 4,000 students. It delivers a solid US education with a very international perspective that includes Chinese immersion classes, gamelan music lessons and Google-style makerspaces.

In the elementary, middle and high school years, teaching follows a US standards-based curriculum; this includes the Common Core State Standards for all grades, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and MAP testing. As you’d expect from a US-based curriculum, there’s a strong focus on the arts, language, maths, science, PE and social studies; it’s a well-rounded curriculum that makes an education at SAS consistent with all American stateside schools.

SAS has the largest Advanced Studies programme outside of the US. It offers more than 40 Advanced Placement and Advanced Topics courses, and its average AP test score of 4.23 is well above the global average of 2.89. High school students also gain real-world experience working with mentors on a Catalyst project, which is a semester-long, student-driven study. This is just one example of SAS’ progressive project-based programmes; for example, similar to Google 20% Time or Genius Hour, part of the middle school day is dedicated to independently working on a project in one of the school’s many makerspaces.

Also, SAS is constantly adapting its curriculum to reflect the changing demands of our digital age; for example, last year it added a new Reading, Writing, and Publishing in a Digital World high school course. Students also can study technology-specific Advanced Placement (AP) courses in computer science, engineering science, and robotics, as well as mobile app development, graphic design, and game design.

While the vast SAS campus may feel too overwhelming for some, others will prefer the wide offering of facilities, academic and non-academic programmes, and college campus-feel that only a large school can offer. And wherever you stand in the campus you can feel the American identity of this school – there are Eagle logos painted on its walls, grass quads, common rooms, homerooms, and high school counsellors.

Read our full review of Singapore American School (SAS)

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