How do we know that students at Four Rivers are actually learning? The school takes a balanced approach to assessment and uses multiple measures to explore how and what students are learning. These measures include progress reports, testing, and portfolios; each is designed to inform teachers, parents and the students themselves. Our goal is to have assessment guide both students and teachers to the most effective ways of learning.

Progress Reports and Conferences

Comprehensive progress reports are issued at the end of each semester. These include a report on each subject, with a course description, a narrative comment, and grading on each course standard, plus an advisor’s report on the student’s progress toward crew standards. The teachers develop clear course standards with learning targets or defining rubrics for what constitutes “Meeting” in each standard. “Meeting” a standard represents high quality work, and it is the goal of Four Rivers to have every student meet all the course standards. Students are also assessed, using the same terms, on their Habits of Work and Learning (known as “HOWLs”). More than in many schools, our students know what they are expected to do and how well they are doing it. Through feedback from teachers, guided revision and self-assessment, students learn to work up to their best on a daily basis. Midway through each semester, we have student-led conferences in which the parents, the advisor and the student meet to review work and set goals. Special conferences may be arranged as needed. A description of the grading system and a definition of the terms we use at Four Rivers are provided on the back of this sheet.


Testing (MCAS)

Students at Four Rivers must take the MCAS tests on the same schedule as their counterparts in district schools. We do not “teach to the test”. We do, however, make sure that our Mathematics and English Language Arts programs especially are aligned with the expectations of the Curriculum Frameworks and the MCAS test. In our first five years of MCAS reporting, Four Rivers students, on average, performed above their peers in Franklin County school districts. In the Spring 2008 MCAS , the 10 th grade students tied for first in the state with 100% proficiency in English Language Arts and ranked 36 th (of 336 schools) in Science (Biology). Also in Spring 2008, our 8 th grade ranked 22 nd (of 462 schools) in Proficiency in English Language Arts.


Four Rivers also uses portfolios as an important way to demonstrate what students know and are able to do. Portfolios provide information about student learning that test scores alone cannot show, such as the quality of their thinking and effort over time. In each class students collect their work in folders, then select pieces for their portfolio and reflect on them in structured ways. For grades 8, 10, and 12, the school has Passage Portfolio requirements, through which students must demonstrate their readiness to pass on to the next division or to graduate by presenting their portfolio to a panel of parents, teachers and peers. Passage portfolios are designed to foster reflection and to document improvement and growth over time.

Four Rivers Grading System

Terms and Definitions

Beginning (Bg): The student’s work is rudimentary and just beginningto meet the standards of grade-level work at Four Rivers. Improvement is needed if the student expects to pass to the next grade.

Approaching (Ap): The student’s work is approachingthe standards of grade-level work at Four Rivers. It shows an improving level of quality but is not yet consistently satisfactory work.

Meeting (Mt): The student’s work is meeting the standards of grade-level work at Four Rivers. It shows proficiency; it is good quality and fully satisfactory.

Exceeding (Ex): The student’s work is exceeding the standards of grade-level work at Four Rivers. It shows effort and accomplishment well beyond what was required for meeting the standard.

Work Not Accomplished (WNA): The student’s work has either not been turned in or is of such poor quality that it is unacceptable.

Incomplete (INC):The student’s work is incomplete at the time of the progress report. It needs to be completed within a specified amount of time, o the grade becomes WNA

Not Applicable (NA): This indicates an area of the program that has not yet been introduced to the students.

Students must achieve a year-long grade of at least Ap+ in each academic course standard and meet the Portfolio expectations in order to pass the course for the year.

Students with grades of Ap and below in one or more academic course standards will not be able to earn credit for the course, unless the students make up those deficient standards in the specified period of time after each trimester or in the summer.












Not passing, no credit




Meeting the