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Frequently Asked Questions

Two Rivers Big Picture students chase after their curiosity through rigorous interest-based learning and real-world internships. Two Rivers follows a non-traditional learning model: Students earn academic competencies through a combination of internships, projects and coursework rather than solely earning grades through courses. Students connect with mentors in the real world through internships.

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 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.

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.

What are the requirements for admission to Two Rivers?

Our goal is to set students up for success. While the program is a fantastic program model for some students, Two Rivers is not a fit for all students.  Given the emphasis on independent work at Two Rivers, we suggest applicants have the following:
  • A minimum of 80% attendance record at their prior middle or high school.
  • Passing grades in at least five classes.
  • No disciplinary infractions in the most recent semester.
  • Most importantly, students should have a desire to attend Two Rivers and participate in the program.

Recognizing that all students have different stories, please contact Principal Catherine if your student does not meet the four admission requirements and still desires to attend.

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 all the curriculum that is delivered in a comprehensive high school, so we cannot ensure that all core subject matter is covered. The only required academic courses are math and English/Language arts, plus two other choice courses. 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 Rivers 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.

How does attending Two Rivers impact a student’s college options?

Our students offer colleges a competency-based and project-based transcript through the Mastery Transcript Consortium. Our transcript 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 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.