Grading at Two Rivers Middle School

Grading at Two Rivers, Portfolios, and Student-Led Conferences

The root meaning of the word assess actually means to “sit beside. Although assessment is often seen as done something done TO students, TR middle schoolers are the leaders in analyzing and presenting their own learning.

Portfolios of learning make work public and give students an opportunity to not just do high quality work, but explain why this work is important and the work habits they developed that they will transfer to new tasks. Portfolios tell the story of both academic and scholarly habit growth, providing an important tool for communication that grades alone cannot tell.

In addition to portfolios, students are graded based on standards-mastery at Two Rivers, as students across all Expeditionary Learning schools are graded. This is an important distinction from the traditional grading system. You will also see that starting with this upcoming end-of-semester 1 progress report, students will be receiving grades on their scholarly habits, averaged across their classes.


Here’s a simple table comparing the two, so you will come into your student’s next conference well-informed!

Traditional Grading

Standards-Based Grading (at Two Rivers)

Final grades an average of performance, effort, homework completion, and other criteria developed by the teacher. As a result, what final grades communicate are often unclear and vary greatly from teacher to teacher.

Final grades describe a student’s progress toward specific course standards (or learning targets). The specificity enables students and families to clearly identify strengths and areas for improvement.

A certain average is required to pass a class and receive credit. Students may not have mastered a large portion of the material but will still receive credit.

To receive credit, students must meet criteria for each and every course standard within a class.

Grades are viewed as rewards or punishments for overall school performance.

Grades are viewed as a tool for communicating student progress toward specific course standards (or learning targets).

Work habits, such as homework completion or on-task behavior, are averaged in with course grades. This practice can raise or lower grades without clarity as to why.

Habits of work are reported and graded separately and are evidence and skill-based. They are viewed as equally important as academic grades.

Grading is something done by teachers to students and is generally NOT well understood by students.

Students play an active role in understanding learning targets, tracking their progress, identifying next steps, and communicating their progress.