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Awsaj Academy has been awarded a dual accreditation by two internationally renowned accrediting agencies, the Council of International Schools (cis) (www.cois.org) and the Middle States Association (MSA) (www.middlestates.org), both of whom are recognized by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Awsaj Academy began the accreditation process in 2008 through cis, and conducted a full-scale self-study during the 2009-2010 academic year. In response to a site visit by cis in march 2011, Awsaj continued working on its initial application and CIS agreed to have MSA join in awarding final accreditation in 2012. This dual accreditation represents a significant accomplishment for Awsaj Academy, and an acknowledgement of the success of the school’s academic program. According to MSA, “the accreditation process validates to the public the integrity of a school’s program and student transcripts. The accreditation process assures a school community that the school’s purposes are appropriate and are being accomplished through a viable educational program.
Awsaj curriculum overview
The curriculum at Awsaj Academy is based on local and international standards. Materials and resources are selected to support the teaching of the standards, with the end result focused on students fulfilling the Awsaj profile of a graduate:
Graduates of Awsaj Academy will have:
An Awsaj curriculum guide has been developed, which includes specific ‘power standards’ that were selected collaboratively by teachers representing a broad range of grade levels. ‘Power standards’ were selected based on the following criteria:
Endurance – standards that give students’ skills or knowledge that remain with them long after a test is completed (for example, reading comprehension).
Leverage – standards that apply to many academic disciplines (for example, nonfiction writing).
Readiness – standards that students need to move to the next level of learning (for example, students must be able to solve y=mx+b to do graphing). (Source: reeves, Douglas. (2002). The leader’s guide to standards: a blueprint for educational equity and excellence. San Francisco: Wiley and sons)
Explicit direct-instruction programs:
With the support of university partners, Awsaj Academy has curricula with a strong base in research, including programs that have proven to be effective in improving the academic skills of students, which is our number one priority as educators.
Students with learning challenges or who are ‘at risk’ must be able to achieve academically at an accelerated rate, or else they will remain significantly behind in achieving learning standards. At Awsaj Academy, the path to academic achievement is by maximizing time spent learning, while minimizing time needed to learn. In order to do this, an efficient approach to instruction is necessary, one that will allow staff to make the most of allocated time spent learning while at the same time making it possible for students to need less time to learn. These two factors will result in accelerating student achievement. Explicit instruction is one approach that has been shown through years of research to effectively minimize time needed to learn. Explicit instruction can take the form of a scripted direct-instruction program that ensures that all elements of a content area, such as reading, are taught in an appropriately sequenced fashion. Or it can take the form of explicit direct-instruction strategies, regardless of content area, that achieve similar results in minimizing the time needed to learn.
Those programs break learning down into small stages that students are expected to master before moving to the next, more complex skill. Students receive instruction in groups of no more than six. This high student-teacher ratio allows teachers to immediately respond to student answers and provide feedback. It also allows teachers to immediately correct student errors so they will not be repeated, and to interact with each student individually to ensure the mastery of concepts and skill throughout the period of instruction.
We also recognize that no program will be effective if it is not taught well. Our teachers go through rigorous training prior to delivering the selected curricula. Teachers are supported by instructional coaches who provide feedback daily on lesson delivery.
These instructional coaches also provide one-on-one, small-group and large-group professional development during the academic year. The coaches work collaboratively with building principals to ensure that high-quality teaching strategies are used consistently with our research-validated curricula.