Frequently Asked Questions
TWO RIVER BIG PICTURE STUDENT CHASE AFTER THEIR CURIOSITIES through rigorous interest-based learning and real-world internships. Two Rivers follows a non-traditional learning model: Students earn academic competencies through a combinations of internsips, projects and coursework rather than solely earning grades through courses. Students connect with mentors in the real world through internships one to two days a week.
Is Two Rivers a private school, a charter school or a public school?
Two Rivers is a public school, specifically a choice high school within the Snoqualmie Valley school District. Any eighth-graders in the Mount Si High School attendance areas may choose to apply for admission. Additionally, students who are entering 10th and 11th grade can apply for admission on a space available basis.
Is Two Rivers an alternative school?
No. Two Rivers is a high school model that is personalized, relevant, and emphasizes real world learning. Two Rivers works for diverse students with a range of academic abilities, school experiences and interests.
Why is Two Rivers sometimes called a “Big Picture” school?
Big Picture Learning is the name of the school-design model upon which Two Rivers is based. The model emphasizes project-based learning and internships over traditional grades and classes. The organization Big Picture Learning was founded in Rhode Island more than 20 years ago; Two Rivers is among more than 65 schools nationwide that have adopted its model. Locally, the Bellevue, Highline and Issaquah school districts also offer choice Big Picture schools.
If Two Rivers isn’t focused traditional classes, what do students do all day?
Most students attend internships on Wednesdays, some attend internships on Fridays too. The school day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and most Fridays has three main components:
- Students are assigned to multi-age advisory led by a certified teacher known as an advisor. The advisory is the space where students bond with a smaller group, plan and organize their project-based learning, and work on various requirements such as autobiography writing.
- Content Time. Students have four classes before lunch. Math and language arts are required to be taken at Two Rivers unless there are exceptional circumstances. Students can choose to take science and social studies at Two Rivers, or take electives at Mount Si depending on available space and the period they are offered.
- Design Labs. These are essentially themed courses anchored by teacher-guided projects. Students select from a menu based on their interests. Design Labs may include topics such as Ancient Civilizations, Forensics, Bridge Building, Literature Study, Photographic Storytelling, the Art of Persuasion, or Graphic Design.
Does Two Rivers work for struggling students or those who qualify for special education services?
It depends on the student. Many students appreciate that they are not confined to a series of classrooms all day and do not have traditional homework or exams; however, Two Rivers requires students to take control of their own learning, time, organization and projects. Students who have trouble staying on task and managing time often find Two Rivers challenging. While students are expected to take off-campus internships, limited on-campus internship opportunities allow some students to work toward that goal.
Without exams or most grades, how do you know what students are learning?
Rather than take finals, students must present all of their completed work, design process, and research in front of a panel of parents, teachers, a mentor and other students. These “exhibitions” take place two times a year. Students submit their projects and evidence for evaluation using an online project management system. The student’s advisor assesses the work and assigns competencies in five primary Learning Goals: quantitative reasoning, empirical reasoning, communication, social reasoning and personal qualities. Students must meet all competencies every two years in order to graduate.
How do you ensure that students receive a comprehensive education in specific core-subject content?
Students do not cover the curriculum that is delivered in a comprehensive high school so we cannot ensure that all core-subject matter is covered. However, Two Rivers competencies embed the same skills and learning targets that are important in comprehensive schools and are present in Common Core State Standards. Students at Two River can demonstrate mastery of these skills through learning that is relevant to their own lives rather than meeting them through curriculum directed by a teacher. Two Rivers students are encouraged to learn through projects that they create based on their interests and personal learning plans which means that they often learn deeper and retain information since their learning is relevant to their interests, vision, and future goals. Exceptions are math and language arts. All students are required to progress through traditional math and language arts courses until they meet state testing requirements or identify a graduation pathway alternative.
How does attending Two Rivers impact a student’s college options?
Our students offer colleges a competency-and project-based transcript through the national Mastery Transcript program. It does not include a grade point average. Many colleges and universities have embraced project-based schools such as Two Rivers; others are still learning about how to assess students who have taken a non-traditional path. The Two Rivers counselor is available to help students and families navigate options and work closely with colleges through the application process.
What about health and physical education?
Students set health and wellness goals each learning cycle that are relevant to their own lives. Additionally, two areas of personal qualities include to living an active lifestyle and making healthy choices. Students who wish to participate in sports may do so through Mount Si High School
How do students find internships and get to them?
Two Rivers Internship Coordinator creates a database of organizations that would like to host a student intern, and some students arrive at Two Rivers with clear internship goals beyond these options. Staff helps students reach out to potential business mentors, and advisors often act as liaisons. Students who cannot drive themselves to an internship may be transported by a parent, take a public bus or walk. We have interns placed as far away as Mercer Island and as close as adjacent schools in our district.
Have more questions?
Contact Principal Rhonda Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.