DUBAI // Of the 30 schools claiming to offer an American education in the emirate, 21 are not accredited to do so, the emirate’s education regulatory authority has found.
The president of the oldest education accreditation body in the US discussed the issue with officials from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), as well as from the Abu Dhabi Education Council last week.
"We feel that our accreditation process can complement their school inspection programme," said Cameron Staples of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, which has been accrediting education institutions since 1885. "Our goals for school improvement are compatible."
The body, based in Massachusetts, began accrediting schools outside of the US in 1990, and its accreditation is recognised by the US Department of Education.
Nine schools in the UAE have received accreditation from the association, the first one in 2000. Applications from four more schools in Dubai are being reviewed.
Mr Staples said the association conducts a preliminary visit to determine whether the school can reach the standards expected.
"The quality of teachers and curriculum are the most critical aspects of high performing schools," he said.
The latest report by KHDA found many American schools were not preparing pupils for recognised external assessments required to enter university.
"Too many US schools still do not provide an accredited diploma to students to enable them to achieve higher education placements," said the report.
Inspectors also noted weak leadership in half of the schools. "A high turnover of teachers and senior staff restrict continuity of experiences for students," the report said.
Delice Scotto, principal of the American Academy for Girls in Al Mizhar, which received accreditation in 2010, said approval by external organisations was necessary.
"That holds a lot of weight when the students are applying for university," said Ms Scotto. "Parents want to be sure their child is at a quality school and that a degree from here will open doors to international institutions."
Tasneem Ajaj, who withdrew her daughter from an American school that was performing poorly in the local inspections, said an accreditation was important to her.
"It has a huge implication on their higher education options," she said.