Dubai Arab American School is located in Al Muhaisnah, The school follows the US curriculum and has a predominantly Emirati student base.
Dubai Arab American School (DAAS) is a US curriculum school that was established in 2006. The school describes itself as catering to students from KG1-G12 providing a US curriculum in a strong community that values education.
"Student activities and opportunities consider the American flair infused with traditional Arabic culture and values".
The school offers a mixed gender environment until Grade 3, but girls and boys are taught separately from Grade 4 and predominantly attracts students from the local Emirati community. At the time of the last (pre-Covid 19) KHDA inspection, DAAS was attended by just under 600 students of whom over 400 were Emirati. This is a substantial fall in student population compared with two years earlier, the over 1,100 students attended the school. A teacher: student ratio of 1:20 is somewhat on the high side.
Although there are no definite, published, grounds behind this change, the school's varied KHDA inspection record - DAAS was downgraded from Acceptable to Weak in 2015-16, a rating that it retained for two further years before achieving the Acceptable rating again in 2018-19 - it would seem that parents have voted with their feet. The return to the Acceptable rating - the minimum requirement for schools in Dubai - will therefore no doubt have been welcomed.
At the time of the last inspection, students were educated by 46 teachers, the majority from Egypt. Staff turnover, at 37%, was significantly higher than the UAE average of 22%, potentially driven by efforts to improve the standards of teachers employed at the school. A new American Principal had been appointed and was leading the school at the time of the improved rating in 2018-19.
In addition, the school achieved NEASC - New England Schools and Colleges - accreditation in March 2020, (a further KHDA requirement), which means that the High School Diploma issued to graduating students will be recognised by colleges and universities in the US and overseas.
In 2021, Dr. Jeremy F. Williams was appointed Principal and CEO of the school. Dr. Williams was formally Principal at Manor Hall International School in Al Ain.
Introducing himself on the school website, Dr. Williams notes "Dubai Arabian American School is entering an exciting time in its journey toward academic excellence. We are very excited about continuing our mission to prepare students for the future. Providing students with a warm, nurturing, and supportive environment is key to helping them develop into fulfilled and productive adults".
Dr. Williams served as Regional Vice President and Superintendent for a charter school network in the USA prior to joining Manor Hall. He was also a Head of Secondary and Vice Principal, who as a teacher, taught elementary mathematics (using inquiry-based learning) and also English/Language Arts for several years.
The Vision of Dubai Arabian American School is of "Lifelong learners working collaboratively for an ethical and global education through innovation and accountability".
Its Mission is:
Fulfilling each scholar’s aspirations
Understanding the values of UAE in a global context
Tolerance to ensure equity of all
United efforts towards an everchanging world
Responsibility to self and others
Empowering learners through collaboration
The curriculum is aligned to the State of California, USA academic standards. Additionally, Arabic and Islamic are offered with the implementation of the Ministry of Education standards. The school offers four curriculum sections including Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle and High School.
The Early Childhood curriculum is offered to students of KG1 and KG2. In this phase, students learn through play and collaboration while emerging as learners with foundational language skills in both English and Arabic, number sense in mathematics and exploration with curiosity in science. Students are assessed through MAP standarized tests and through demonstrating developmentally appropriate skills for children aged three to five years old. Students are encouraged to be creative, think independently and work collaboratively with their peers. Technology is integrated into lessons through the use of robots, interactive floors and applications used on devices to reinforce learning. Learning is not restricted to the classroom, with kindergarteners growing a vegetable garden and exploring the outdoors sensory areas, jungle gym as well as the role play area.
The curriculum at this stage aims to develop independent and competitive individuals who lead their learning journey by voicing their opinions without fear. Students are expected to become caring and compassionate individuals who are ready to take over anything that comes their way through a curriculum featuring structured play, self-regulation, inquiry, and performance-based tasks.
The Elementary Phase comprises of grades 1-5. Core subjects include English reading, comprehension and writing, Maths and Science which may be infused with the study of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) to build on inquiry skills and the scientific method. Technology, including Coding, is integrated in lessons through the use of a variety of platforms.
In this phase, students’ progress and attainment is monitored through Cognitive Abilities Test 4 (CAT4), Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) and Internal benchmarks that are used from the curricular resources to support and triangulate student data based on curricular standards for each grade. In addition, assessments are administered for each subject to check that skills and objectives have been achieved.
In the Middle Phase, from grades 6 to 8 emphasis is placed on perfecting English skills, developing Maths problem solving through real world applications and students are introduced to pre-algebra. Advanced learners are able to start Algebra in 8th grade and continue on to advanced Mathematics in high school. An integrated Science curriculum gives students opportunities to explore different Science disciplines while developing inquiry skills and enforcing the use of the scientific process. Lessons take place in science labs where students can be inventive and conduct experiments.
The High School curriculum is designed to develop college and career readiness in students, while preparing for university admissions and career choices. Students in high school must earn 26 credits with a minimum of 60% passing grades in all subjects to be eligible for a US High School Diploma from Dubai Arabian American Private School.
Courses include core subjects as well as a variety of electives are offered to enrich the curriculum and develop students holistically. Electives are selected based on student interest and career goals. In addition, students are encouraged to volunteer, complete community service, support People of Determination, and exercise Green Living practices.
A high school University and Career Counselor is ready to discuss course and career options for you and your student, along with answer questions as they relate to university admissions or career preparation.
DAAS is committed to an inclusive environment. The Inclusion Department consists of a Head of Inclusion Leader, Learning Support Teachers, Learning Support Assistants and Peer Mentors. The primary responsibility of the SEN team is to support students that have demonstrated difficulty in school. Those identified as Students of Determination are placed on an Individual Education Plan as a collaborative effort from the academic team, parents, students, and any other personnel that will best represent the student.
Services for Students of Determination include (but are not limited to) academic support in the mainstream classroom, pull out support in a least restrictive environment, Counseling for academics or social emotional matters, liaising among the academic team and the student (and parents), providing accommodations during assessments and challenging students with goals and follow up to personal plans.
At the time of the last KHDA inspection (in 2018-19), support for students of Determination was rated Weak by the DSIB inspection team. A small number of students had been identified with additional learning needs and inspectors found that not all had been provided with individual education plans to effectively support their leaning. Whilst there was no question about the commitment of the school to support for students with SEN, the identification of the support required and the delivery of this support required improvement, notably through further professional development of the teachers involved. We have no doubt that, two years on, progress will have been made in this respect.
DAAS is located in a modern building in the Muhaisnah area. Unfortunately, neither the school website, nor the KHDA inspection reports, provide information about the facilities.
DAAS has certainly had chequered history in terms of its inspections. Having initially been rated Weak for the first two years of inspections, the school managed to achieve an Acceptable rating for the following four years, before a further three years of Weak ratings until the most upgrade to Acceptable in 2018-19.
As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, DAAS was not inspected in 2019-20 or 2020-21. However, in common with all UAE schools, it did participate in a Distance Learning Evaluation in May/June 2020 where the school received a Partially Developed rating - the second of three possible results. Read the report here.
Whilst in the 2018-19 inspection, Arabic and Islamic Education were largely rated Acceptable (though Arabic attainment was rated Weak in the Middle and High school sections), attainment remained Weak in Middle and High school sections for all three core English-language based subjects (English, Maths and Science). However, there was strong evidence of improvement in terms of progress in all three subjects, rated Acceptable in Elementary, Middle and High school sections and Good in KG. Learning skills had also improved to Acceptable across the school.
These improvements were no doubt driven by improvements in Teaching and Assessment and the Curriculum - the other two key performance standards that impact most directly on Student Achievement. With the sole exception of Curriculum Adaptation in the Middle school section, all other measures were rated Acceptable, whilst Teaching for Effective Learning was rated Good in KG.
Students personal and social development, and their innovation skills are a relative strength of DAAS, being largely rated Good. Health and safety is a further strength (rated Good), whilst care and protection of students was rated Acceptable.
The range of improvements shown in the inspection enabled the DISB team to rate the overall leadership and management of the school as Acceptable.
In terms of strengths, the DSIB team determined that these were:
As far as areas for improvement are concerned, the DSIB team identified that DAAS should:
If you would like to read the full inspection report - and we strongly recommend that you do so in order to understand the reasons behind the ratings - you will find it here.
Feedback from parents to the KHDA's pre-inspection survey (a total of four responses) was too little to enable their views to be shared as representative of parents at the school. However, according to feedback in the inspection report, parents are satisfied with the leadership and quality of teaching at the school. They have some involvement in decision-making to support and improve the school. They value the reports they receive on their children's progress and make an important contribution to the life of the school on a daily basis.
By contrast, 229 students responded to the Wellbeing Survey. Although students were positive about their academic studies, believing that they do well at these, a large minority (so not a majority) felt safe and school, and they reported frequent instances of social, verbal, physical and cyber-bullying compared with other Dubai schools. These comments must be a concern to the school leadership.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com has also received a very limited number of responses to its school survey and these are in diametric contrast to each other.
If you are a parent, student or teacher at Dubai Arabian American School, please share your experience with other potential members of your community by completing our survey.
Dubai Arabian American School is one of a number of US curriculum schools in the city that have been set up historically with the goal of providing a US curriculum (felt to be less demanding than other international curricula by many since there are no mandatory external examinations, compared with UK, IB and Indian curricula). This resulted, for a considerable period, of schools being American in name only. The decision by the KHDA to require that all US curriculum schools are accredited with NEASC or another of the more highly regarded College Boards, means that significant improvements are being demanded and being made.
It seems clear from the more recent changes in leadership that DAAS is now a school that can genuinely be regarded as striving to provide an accredited US curriculum to a standard that meets the regulator's requirements. The KHDA rating of Acceptable is clear evidence of the improvements that have been made. There is evident commitment to ongoing development of, and investment in, the school's resources. We would hope to see this reflected in the next KHDA inspection report, which should - Covid 19 measure permitting - be issued in the 2020-21 academic year.
Fees at DAAS range from AED 13,845 in KG to AED 30,864 for Grade 12 (very much at the affordable end). There is also an additional re-registration fee of 5% of the tuition fees and a new registration fee (for new students) of 10% of the tuition fees. Sibling discounts of 5% for the second child and 10% for the third are also offered.
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