Academic Programs

The ACS High School is committed to providing an academically rigorous and balanced program that develops the whole student, cultivating in each of them the capacity for nuanced, open-minded thinking, empathy for their fellow ACS community members, and a broad world-view that recognizes the dignity in all people. Thanks to our caring, dedicated faculty, ACS students thrive in a welcoming atmosphere that challenges them to look deeply into problems and to work collaboratively with peers and teachers to find solutions.

Students who successfully complete the high school course of study receive an ACS Diploma. Within the larger purview of the ACS Diploma, students may choose to pursue the International Baccalaureate track, the Lebanese Baccalaureate track, or the ACS track, which allows students to choose electives in areas of their interest. Regardless of the academic path, the education at ACS nurtures a high level of critical thinking, cultivates analytical skills that allow students to solve new, unseen problems, develops the emotional intelligence that makes students good team players and fosters in students both the capacity and the inclination to make positive contributions to their communities.

The ACS Diploma, Graduation Requirements, and Baccalaureate Tracks

The ACS High School Diploma is based on the American model and is awarded after successfully meeting all graduation criteria. Students accumulate credits toward graduation and credits are earned based on final grades and on meeting the seat-hour threshold in each class. A student must complete all graduation requirements in order to graduate with his or her class.

ACS offers a high school program of studies designed to prepare students for selective universities. In the process of completing the graduation requirements enumerated below, ACS students holding a foreign passport and local students planning to pursue careers outside of the country have the option of enrolling in IB courses, for which they may receive IB certificates for single courses or an IB Diploma if they complete courses in each of the required subject areas, fulfill community service and activity obligations, and submit an independent research project. Locally-based students who plan to pursue careers in Lebanon must follow either the full IB Diploma pathway or study in the Lebanese Baccalaureate program. International Baccalaureate and Lebanese Baccalaureate diplomas are awarded following successful completion of all program requirements, including external examinations.

Graduation Requirements

A minimum of 26 credits are required. Transfer students will have their official transcripts reviewed and individual programs of study will be developed when deemed necessary. Students must earn a minimum grade point average of 1.67 (on a 4-point scale). Students with individualized learning support plans developed by ACS must meet all of their objectives to fulfill graduation requirements.

Lebanese Baccalaureate

The Lebanese Baccalaureate Programme is one of the major diploma programs offered by the American Community School Beirut. This programme is offered to Lebanese nationals who require the degree to pursue professional careers in Lebanon and is available to all Lebanese students who choose to study in this academy strand. Students doing the LB program at ACS are first introduced to the Programme through Social Studies and Math instruction in Grade 8, with the full LB Programme implemented in Grades 9 through 12.

Our results at ACS have been exemplary with our Grade 9 and 12 students completing their exams successfully, thanks in large part to the dedication of our teachers and the ongoing support of our school counselors. In addition to preparing LB students for success on national tests, the LB Programme at ACS gives students the capacity to engage with global issues, to be independent learners, and to have opportunities to study in the best universities in Lebanon and abroad.

In 2019 the Lebanese Ministry of Education issued a decree accepting the IB/LB equivalency which means that all Lebanese national students have the option to pursue the International Baccalaureate Programme. To obtain the equivalency students must pass the Grade 9 national exams, complete History and Civics in Arabic in Grades 11 and 12, and meet all of the obligations of the IB Programme.

International Baccalaureate

The IB Diploma Programme at ACS is designed as an academically challenging two-year programme of education that prepares students for the intellectual rigor of university and imbues in students the self-discipline and time management skills that set them up for success in life after high school. The IB is a global curriculum that, in the words of the organization’s mission statement “aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.” With a host of courses that promote analytical thinking and continuous reflection, the IB Programme’s goal is to “encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

The American Community School Beirut was the first IB authorized school in Lebanon to offer the IB DP Programme in 1995. In the past quarter century, ACS students have gotten consistently strong results and have graduated from the Programme into leading universities across the world. ACS faculty receives continuous training in teaching and assessing course material and several of our faculty serve as IB evaluators, as well as holding other trusted roles with IB.

ACS encourages all interested G11 students to pursue the IB track and supports those students through phases of the programme in order to guide them to success. Our alumni regularly return to campus and tell their former teachers that the IB Programme developed them into college-ready students who made the transition to university smoothly.

Arts

At ACS we believe in the creative learner. Today it is recognized that to be truly educated, one must not only learn to appreciate the arts, but one must also, and perhaps more importantly, have rich opportunities to actively participate in creative work. The High School Arts Curriculum is based on the National Core Arts Standards and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. These standards stress the importance of creating and performing original works, responding to the works of both peers and recognized professionals, and using the arts as a way of connecting with the wider world.

High School Arts provides students with opportunities to express their interpretation of the world through a variety of visual and performing arts which include Music, Drama, Theatre, Visual Arts, Ceramics, Computer Graphics, and Digital Photography. Our programs are dynamic and reflective of our diverse and evolving society, nurturing students to develop into creative leaders and enabling them to meet the challenges of the future.

English

The High School English Language Arts program is designed to allow students to develop their confidence as creative, versatile writers and analysts through exploration of a broad range of both literary and nonliterary genres. They learn about the writer’s craft through close reading, writing, oral presentations, research, and emulation of mentor texts. The course aims to foster a love of reading and writing that will lead to a meaningful interaction with texts while building vocabulary and conceptual skills that prepare them for in-depth analytical study by the time they reach the upper grades. Students will understand the universality, durability and accessibility of visual texts, film, fiction, drama, and poetry from various time periods and places.

Students examine the complex elements that define a person’s identity and the global issues as they are reflected in texts. They learn about the role of culturally determined reading practices and develop an understanding of critical literacy. Through the close study of individual texts and passages and by considering a range of critical approaches, literary and cultural contexts, students develop international mindedness and critical thinking.

Math

The High School Mathematics program at ACS is based on the AERO/Common Core Standards, the National Lebanese Math Curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate syllabus. In our math courses at ACS, we stress the conceptual understanding of mathematical principles and, at the same time, keep the students connected to the basic organizing systems of math such as place value and the laws of arithmetic. This dual focus ensures that students grasp big ideas in mathematics while also developing the habits and skills necessary to stay on track when they are working through the minute details of specific challenges and problems. Our approach prepares students for success in advanced math courses at university and for STEM-related careers.

Teaching at all grade levels models various ways of working through problems, gives students opportunities to use these strategies on problems of increasing sophistication, and then, when the students are ready, challenges students to apply their skills to unseen problems. Our standards stress the importance of adaptive reasoning, strategic competence, and procedural fluency. Our hope is that students come to understand mathematics as a rational, sensible system and that they acquire a sense of personal efficacy when working with numbers.

Physical Education

Our High School Physical Education curriculum develops in students the habits and skills needed for a healthy, balanced life by focusing on high-energy activities, team tactics, and decision-making that leads to individual and group success in a cooperative setting. In ACS PE courses we stress the importance of physical preparation (properly warming up, staying hydrated, maintaining flexibility) as well as mental preparation (positive self-talk, concentration on the challenge at hand) and we use competitive events as a way of stressing teamwork and maintaining healthy, positive relations with one’s opponents on the field of play.

Throughout their work in the HS PE program students develop sport-specific techniques and fitness and learn to execute sport-specific strategic play. We teach students how to become responsible leaders when faced with a challenge that requires focused cooperation, and we teach students how to be skilled team players who know when to step forward and when to defer to a teammate whose time has come to lead in an endeavor.

Science

The High School Science curriculum is aligned with the principles of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and promotes inquiry in domains that include physical science and life science in the early grades and offers focused study in the areas of biology, chemistry, and physics in the upper grades. At all grade levels, ACS science courses introduce students to compelling content, challenge students to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge, and develop higher-order thinking skills. This approach prepares students for success in college and in the workplace and, more importantly, instills in students a sense of wonder and discovery that will keep them curious and inquisitive over the course of their lives about the workings of the natural world.

The study of science at ACS develops in students a capacity to make connections among all of the domains of science that they study. Both in the classroom setting and in the laboratory, students practice the basics of stating a question, performing research, making a hypothesis, conducting experiments, noting observations, and reaching conclusions as they deploy the scientific method while encountering challenges of increasing sophistication. Our teachers model the way scientists investigate the natural world and, over time, students learn to design and build systems similar to the manner that engineers do in their work.

Social Studies

The High School Social Studies program at ACS focuses on collaborative learning and emphasizes approaching new concepts and ideas with open-mindedness and compassion. Students start their Social Studies course learning about the Modern World and how it came to be. The historical background of current conflicts is explored by going beyond history and looking at further contexts. Each unit builds on the previous unit to allow students to understand the concepts of modernity, cooperation and conflict. In 11th grade, students have a wider option of subjects to choose from. We offer History, Global Politics, Economics, and Psychology that follow the IB curriculum which is easily adapted to whatever track students choose to do. 

Social Studies at ACS develops student capacity to determine central ideas when reading primary and secondary sources and stresses the importance of citing evidence to support their analysis. Teachers model enquiry-based learning methods to deliver material, fostering an environment that allows students to become independent and risk-takers. Students partake in research, presentations, debates, and discussions on a daily basis and are encouraged and challenged to think critically, analyze, and form opinions that are appropriately supported.

World Languages

Arabic

The Arabic Program in High School aims to advance the students’ language skills and their understanding of the Arab culture. Two levels of instruction are offered in grades 9 and 10: Standard and High level. The program in the standard courses is based on AERO World Languages Standards and prepares the students to join the Arabic B Standard Level in grades 11 and 12. The program in High Level courses is based on QRTA Arabic Standards for Native Speakers and prepares the students to join the IB A Literature course or B High Level courses in grades 11 and 12. The program also offers Lebanese Brevet class in grade 9 and Lebanese Baccalaureate class in grade 12.

The focus of the High School Arabic courses is on promoting the students’ communications skills in the interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational modes. Students engage in oral and written activities that enhance their speaking, understanding, reading and writing skills. The program also focuses on cultural understanding of the Arab world. Students explore a variety of literary works and genres, and learn about the cultural context of these works. They investigate the Arabic cultural products, practices and their perspectives to understand the cultural and language variations across the Arab countries.

French as a Foreign Language (FFL)

The High School French Language Program is based on AERO World Languages Standards and informed by the IB program. It is offered as a Foreign Language Program in three proficiency levels: Novice, Intermediate and Advanced. Students acquire or develop further acquisition of the language through a variety of written and oral activities that promote their communication skills in the interpersonal, interpretive and presentational modes. As students move through the High School program, they develop the skills to interact using the target language in a range of everyday situations and express themselves orally and in writing, according to their proficiency levels. The program prepares the students for both the IB and provides them with the opportunity to expand their knowledge about the culture of the French-speaking world.

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