This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
French American International School2
Posted March 07, 2015
- a parent
We have been a part of the FAIS community for 6 years, beginning in pre-K. It is a unique school that has changed considerably over the last 5 years. Regrettably, that change has not been for the better. The good parts first: FAIS has WONDERFUL teachers who are generally caring, warm and engaging. The curriculum is engaging with a lot of art built into daily lessons. The class sizes range from 16 -18 students. This can feel cramped in the modular classrooms they have made into a campus. The areas where improvement is needed: During the last 7 years, there have been 3 heads of the Lower School; the most recent addition, Vincent Br s was a sharp departure in philosophy and parent engagement. He arrogantly supposes he knows what is best for ALL children and is openly hostile to the concept of individualization of education. The curriculum is PYP-based with IB designation, this has added cost without clear improvement in the quality of the curriculum. It is NOT academically rigorous. Ethnic & socioeconomic diversity have rapidly declined over 4 years. The tuition has doubled in 6 years. Finally, your child WILL lag in English reading/writing skills at the end of 5th grade.
This is a truly exceptional school. My son's linguistic capabilities are impressive, but that's to be expected at an immersion school. The school's hands-on approach to science from the earliest years pays off - the schools robotics team recently won an Intel competition. Already small classes are continually broken into still smaller groups so that each child receives instruction appropriate for them in all subject areas. And unlike so many other schools these days, Music, art and recess are still part of the educational equation. Love this school!
On of the best, if not the best, private school option in Portland. The academics are stellar, facilities fantastic and expanding, and a wonderful group of parents and teacher. We have two children at the school and there's no better educational opportunity anywhere in the metro area.
Our older son is in his 3rd yr at FAIS (kindergarten) and he loves it. Our younger son started in PS this year. He has learning disabilities (sensory issues and likely ADHD.) We ended up having to take him out today. However I just want to say that the teachers, administration, counselor, aids, etc were so wonderful throughout the process. They went above and beyond to try and help him be successful there. Meanwhile, our older son is getting so many wonderful experiences from field trips, older kids reading, dancing, singing for the class, library, obstacle course, PE, outdoor forest learning, and yes, the entire global experience. It's a bit expensive but WELL worth it!! The test scores over the years show that if you keep the child in the school over the long run, the scores are at and above both private/public schools in the area. Lastly, soon FAIS will be one of the only IB accredited french curriculum schools. Highly recommend this school for most children.
Our child started at PS level and first 2 years were great. Our opinion of the school changed from K and above. FAIS might be a good French school but it is not great academically, average at best. For our family learning a second language is not the primary concern and we have been frustrated with the level of math and science education in the school. They have hard time finding competent French speaking teachers and retaining them. Every year there is at least one new teacher. This is a lot if you consider there is only 3 classes at each grade. And parent body is cliquish, class assignments certainly reflect that. It is the French democracy, some people are more equal than others. For the amount of money we are paying, we are not really happy. We'd rather go to a public school but it is hard to pull your child out of the school once you start since their curriculum is different than other schools.
The French American School complies with the curriculum that is required by the French government. They do have a somewhat differing style, timing, and emphasis. This means that parents whose children are in the early grades may detect a difference in the pace of learning and the subject matter that is being taught. To judge the entire curriculum based on the math skills of an individual student is not necessarily a fair assessment. When speaking with teachers from rigorous high schools such as OES and Catlin Gabel, they give universal praise to the preparation of the students who matriculated at French American School, and the Gilkey International Middle School. We have often heard that the FAIS students are better prepared for high school that their own students. We have had excellent communication between ourselves and the teacher, and have always been welcomed by the teachers.
As an alumnus of FAIS and a college grad majoring in international political economy, I want to say what a great job FAIS did in preparing me for the challenges of high school and eventually college. FAIS strong academic program, coupled with its international curriculum, prepared me better than most of my peers for the challenges of an academically rigorous college-prep high school. As importantly, my ability to speak three languages fluently has opened up numerous career options for me in today s more global economy. In fact, I truly feel that the educational experience I received at FAIS has had a greater impact on my future than my high school and college experiences combined. Merci beaucoup, FAIS!
We were told this was an academic school taught in French. But, we are finding after several years that this is a French school, not an academic school. Academics are lacking in the early years (ps through K). The local public school is more advanced in math than my child is. I feel I need to do a lot of supplemental teaching at home. There is very little communication to the parents on what is going on in the classroom. This is an ongoing concern and the school is doing very little about it. Many parents have complained, but no action to resolve. This is very disappointing considering this is a private school.
We have had great success with our son at the school. He is thriving. Our motivation for placing him at the school has not been singularly focused on language immersion but also on the benefits associated with student teacher ratios that are less than half that in the Oregon Public School equivalent. The school does not prevent students from applying for academic or behavioral reasons. Instead, they are open to all children and work very hard to include everyone. Those who would make sweeping statements regarding who belongs or who does not belong reflect an ignorant and intolerant position that is not reflected by the school staff in my experience. We have found the teachers to be highly capable as well as highly motivated.
It is a trade-off: more French and less American. Here is an honest assessment. We had two children at FAS until 5th grade and found the teaching standards and quality vary within and between the grades. One child had a far better education than the other. When a student leaves FAS in 1st-5th grade only those with French proficiency can be enrolled. Some children do not belong at FAS for academic or behavioral reasons, making learning a challenge. The teachers are personable. The English curriculum does not meet the same standards as the public schools . There is a lack of flexibility to offer higher levels of work outside the French curriculum . Policy changes are made with little, if any, notice, irritating most. Students from FAS have an automatic acceptance into GIMS; outside students have to present grades and SSAT test scores to qualify. Most FAS students come into GIMS unprepared and not able to meet the new academic expectations; many will be successful at, thrive in, and enjoy GIMS. An immersion program is not for everyone, but both children have easily learned 2 add l languages. We enjoyed being active volunteers and making great friends!