Handbook » Course Expectations

Course Expectations

Timetable/Course Changes

The deadline for changing courses is the fourth instructional day of each semester. If a student wishes to change classes, they will come to the office and make arrangements to see an administrator. Students must attend all classes on their schedule until they have received a new schedule indicating their requested changes.

Minimum Course Load

  • Grade 10 students are expected to earn 40 credits (full course load)
  • Grade 11 students are expected to earn 40 credits (full course load). To earn a spare, a student must earn 10 credits outside of school for a 5-credit spare. This can be done through Work Experience, Green Certificate, Dual Credit, and RAP.
  • Grade 12 students are expected to earn a minimum of 30 credits. To earn a spare, a student must earn 10 credits outside of school for a 5-credit spare and be in line for graduation in June. This can be done through Work Experience, Green Certificate, Dual Credit, and RAP.


All school fees are due at the time of registration. Payments received are applied to outstanding balances first. Fees for junior high students are $40.00, and senior high students pay $45.00. Cheques should be made payable to Sexsmith Secondary School. Any past due amounts should also be paid at the school, not the district office. Lockers will be issued once all fees are paid in full. In addition, grade 12 students in arrears will not be permitted to participate in graduation ceremonies unless their fees, fines and debts are paid. Post-dated cheques or other arrangements are welcome. Please contact the school principal if you require particular circumstances for payments. Extracurricular privileges may be restricted for students with outstanding fees. Extracurricular fees are non-refundable. Families who need special consideration concerning fees are encouraged to speak to the principal.


*CTS and Physical Education Fees: Other additional fees may apply based on student project selection and class-selected activities such as scuba diving, skating, curling, golf, bowling, etc.

Textbook/Replacement of Lost or Damaged Materials

Students are responsible for all materials received by them. Students will be charged for materials that are damaged or not returned to the library. This includes library materials, classroom novels, calculators, Chromebooks, laptops, iPads and textbooks. Students will be charged the replacement cost of the item, GST, and shipping charges. Students should check their books carefully for damage when they are signed out of the library and report any incident to the librarian immediately.

Math Calculators

The senior high school math curriculum requires that students have a graphing calculator in the '-1' or '-2' route. Students are required to purchase and maintain their calculators. The TI83+ and the TI84 are the only calculators on which students will be given in-class instruction. All books will be handed in before the final exam is written.


All students are assigned a school locker after all current and outstanding school fees are paid. Combination locks are provided free of charge by the school. Students cannot use a personal lock. A replacement fee of $10.00 will be charged if the locks are lost or damaged. Students are strongly advised to keep their lockers secured.

Students should also be aware that, when necessary, locker searches can be carried out without the student's consent as per PWPSD policy.

At the end of the year, all students will remove all locker contents and clean the inside and outside of their lockers. Lockers must be cleaned and left in good repair, or the student will be charged a cleaning/repair fee. All abandoned contents will be sorted, and anything of value will be given to charity.

Report Cards

Students and parents will be issued passwords to access student marks, comments and attendance online through PowerSchool. No paper copies will be printed, but they are available upon request at the office. Updates of student achievement will be posted online around the 1st of each month (see the "School Year at a Glance" for specific dates).

Expectations Regarding Diligence in Pursuing Studies

Being diligent in one's studies means doing all work to the best of one's ability, preparing for exams, bringing all necessary materials to class, coming to school with an openness to learning, making education a priority over extracurricular activities, work and socializing and focusing one's attention on learning while in the classroom.

Course Sequences

Senior high school course numbers usually indicate the grade level and the level of academic challenge.

  • Courses numbered 10, 20, 30, 31, 10-1, 20-1, and 30-1 are designed primarily for students planning on entering a university or particular programs in colleges and technical schools.
  • Courses numbered 10-2, 20-2, 30-2, 10-3, 20-3, 30-3, 14, and 24 are designed primarily for students planning on entering some programs in colleges, technical and trade schools, or the workforce.
  • Courses numbered 10-4, 20-4, and 30-4 are designed primarily for students planning direct career entry into some areas of employment.


The pass mark on all subjects is 50%. Grade 9 students who fail two or more core subjects or one core and two complementary courses may be in danger of promotion. High school students may not proceed to the next level of a course, and credits will not be awarded unless they pass the course with at least 50%.

Student Responsibility for Checking Prerequisites

The principal, counsellor and teachers typically check to ensure that students have the prerequisites for courses in which they are registered. It is, however, ultimately the student's responsibility to ensure that they have the prerequisites for their courses and that their program will meet the requirements for a high school diploma and future career needs. If in doubt, the student should consult school personnel in good time so that changes can be made if necessary.

Appeal Policy for School-Awarded Marks

Students have 10 days from receiving their semester final grades to appeal their marks. Mark appeals must be made in writing to the principal. The principal and the teacher involved will review the mark. The mark awarded due to the review may be higher or lower than the original grade and will be the mark sent to Alberta.

Achievement and Diploma Exams

All grade 9 students will write provincial achievement tests in Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies. Grade 9 students have regular classes during exam week in January. All grade 12 students are required to write diploma exams in English and Social Studies. Some students also write diploma exams in Math, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These exams are worth 30% of the student's final grade. The other 70% comes from work evaluated by the teacher. Students writing diploma exams or provincial achievement tests must write them at the time established by Alberta Education on the date specified. Students who cannot write a diploma examination will review their options with the school administration in emergencies. If the busses are not running due to an emergency, which includes inclement weather, students and their parents are encouraged to act in the interest of their safety first. Students who arrive at school during these conditions will write their diploma examination as long as they are no more than one hour late and will be allowed the full time allotted for the examination. If, for any reason, a student wishes to rewrite a Grade 12 diploma exam, they may do so by paying a fee and making an application to write the exam(s). These application forms are available from the school. The approximate application deadline is early November for the January and mid-April for the June diplomas.

Final Exams

Final exams are mandatory, and failure to write may jeopardize a student's final mark. Early vacation plans, not knowing when the exam was scheduled, sleeping in or minor illnesses are not legitimate excuses for missing an exam. In extreme illness or other unavoidable severe emergencies, a parent or guardian must contact the principal BEFORE the exam is written, and the appropriate documentation must be obtained. In exceptional circumstances, a parent or guardian may submit a letter, at least one month before the start of exams, to request an alternative date for in-school exams only. Diploma exams cannot be rescheduled. Students who do not write a final exam will receive a grade of "0" for the exam. All students must remain in the examination room for one hour. Students arriving late will be admitted during the first hour of an exam, but they will NOT be given extra time to complete it.

Incomplete CTS Credits

Students are expected to complete a minimum of 5 CTS modules in a whole block of time. Students who do not complete 5 modules will have an incomplete (INC) recorded on their transcripts if they meet Alberta Education Regulations regarding access to instructional time. Once a student has failed to earn the expected number of credits in a course, they may not be granted permission to pursue the same course at the next level (i.e. Building Construction 10 to Building Construction 20/30).

Course Challenge Policy

Students must apply in writing to the principal to challenge a course. The application must state the targeted course and include a recommendation from a teacher or other qualified individual who can verify the student's potential to be successful in the challenge. Students can challenge a course in two ways. They can earn credit for the course by successfully writing a comprehensive exam at a predetermined time (generally during the January/June final exam period), or they can demonstrate acceptable knowledge, skills and attitudes in the course being challenged. Any specific course may be challenged only once. Final results are automatically recorded and submitted to Alberta Education.

Dropping Courses

Students must see an administrator BEFORE they drop a course. To encourage perseverance and to comply with Alberta Learning Regulations, students who withdraw from a course after midterm will have a failing grade recorded on their transcripts.


Withdrawing From School

Students leaving school are expected to see an administrator to discuss this matter. A class withdrawal form must be completed, and all textbooks must be returned.