High School Academics

Eight-Period Schedule & High School Curriculum Opportunities

The school district’s four high schools operate on an eight-period A/B block schedule with modifications for special programs. This A/B block schedule allows for 90-minute class periods with four classes per day. Each class meets every other day. Under this schedule, a student may earn up to eight units of high school credit per year.

The eight-period A/B block schedule gives high school students the opportunity to explore many elective courses, prepare more extensively for two-year or four-year college work, and attend the career center while taking academic courses.

Each high school, combined with the career center, offers a broad curriculum consisting of more than 100 courses. These courses are available to all students on a non-discriminatory basis. Students are encouraged to select occupational courses available at the high school and the career center. These courses in computers, business, and technology give students the opportunity to gain career-related skills and to expand their knowledge of career options. Students will have the opportunity to organize their high school studies around one of the sixteen state and federal career clusters and to participate in work-based learning activities as they prepare for the world of work.

Students should always take the highest level of academic course work they can handle successfully and select occupational courses around their career goals.

Many courses provide students with opportunities to gain advanced placement (AP) and/or technical advanced placement (TAP) credit for college programs. Students should talk to their guidance counselor about the procedures to be followed to receive credit.

Honors Courses

Honors courses are intended for students exhibiting superior abilities in the course content area. The honors curriculum places emphasis on critical and analytic thinking, rational decision-making, and inductive and deductive reasoning. An additional 0.5 weighting is given to honors courses. Students earning honors credit in courses other than English, math, science, or social studies must be in the third or fourth unit in the progression of those courses.

Advanced Placement Program

The advanced placement (AP) program offers students the opportunity to pursue college-level studies while still in high school and to receive advanced placement credit, college credit, or both based on their performance on rigorous AP examinations. Different colleges have different policies concerning accepting AP credit. Students should check with the colleges of their choice for their requirements. An additional 1.0 weighting is given to advanced placement courses.

Technical Advanced Placement Program

Technical Advanced Placement (TAP) is an opportunity for qualified seniors to earn Tri-County Technical College (TCTC) credit. Credit is based on satisfactory completion of specific courses and TAP procedures. Counselors have more information about this program. Information on specific courses available through TAP credit along with the required procedures in each area is available through the guidance office, math, English and career and technology teachers, and TCTC’s Web site at www.tctc.edu/TAP.

All South Carolina technical colleges and many throughout the country offer similar advanced placement programs. They may have names other than Technical Advanced Placement. Each college sets its own program guidelines and requirements. For more information, contact the college you plan to attend.

Dual Credit Courses

Dual credit courses, whether taken at the school site or off campus, are defined as those courses for which the student has received permission from his/her home school to take the courses and to receive both Carnegie units and credit at another institution. Permission must be obtained prior to taking these courses if they are to be considered for dual credit. Students who do not receive prior permission will not receive credit. Most approved courses will receive an additional GPA weighting of one full quality point. Some dual credit courses are only for a college prep weighting in the GPA calculation. Dual credit courses may be applied toward the 24 units required for a state high school diploma for students in Grades 9-12. A three-semester hour college credit will transfer as 1 Carnegie unit. High schools will only permit dual credit for courses taught through accredited colleges and approved by the SC Department of Education. Students must arrange for a certified transcript to be sent to the high school from the college after a dual credit course has been completed. Students must complete a School District of Pickens County Dual Credit Enrollment Form before being considered for approval to take dual credit courses. The form is available in each school’s guidance office.

Enrollment in dual credit courses will be verified to ensure that students are enrolled in the minimum number of Carnegie units for their grade level. If a student includes the dual credit course in the minimum units required for his/her grade level and does not enroll or withdraws from the dual-credit course, additional courses must be scheduled at the home high school.

All final grades (including WF--see Course Withdrawal section below for explanation) as reported by the college on the transcript will be recorded in the student database system. Dual credit courses will not appear on student report cards issued by the high schools. Any dual credit course in progress during second semester will not figure in GPA calculations at the end of 3rd nine weeks. Any awards/honors determined by the rank at the end of 3rd nine weeks will not have the grades for second semester dual credit courses included.

Auditing Courses

A student may apply to audit a course and to receive a grade of AU that will have no impact on the student’s GPA. Students must complete an Application to Audit. The decision to audit must be made in prior to the end of the drop/add period or in advance of taking the course. The student must agree to follow all school and classroom attendance, behavior, participation, and course requirements. The course must be marked for “no credit” and “not included in GPA” at the student level. Students who audit a course that requires an End-of-Course Examination should not take the End-of-Course Examination Program (EOCEP). Students auditing an AP or IB course may take the examinations at their own expense since the state only provides funds for students formally enrolled in AP courses.

Distance/Online Education

Distance/Online Education is an instructional delivery model that does not require the student to be physically present in the same location as the instructor. These courses offer increased accessibility and flexibility in the delivery of instruction. All distance/online education must be consistent with the instructional goals of the district to ensure both the rigor of the course and the quality of instruction. Students in grades 7-12 may participate in online/distance education programs to earn units of academic credit. This credit may be applied toward graduation requirements. Courses must be offered through agencies or universities that are approved by the board. Prior approval of the school/district must be secured prior to enrollment in these courses. If prior approval is not obtained, the student will not receive credit.

Please note, this does not include independent study. SDPC does not offer courses via independent study.

Course Withdrawal

With the first day of enrollment as the baseline, students who withdraw from a course within three days in a 45-day course, five days in a 90-day course, or 10 days in a 180-day course will do so without penalty.

Students who withdraw from a course after the specified time of three days in a 45-day course, five days in a 90-day course, or 10 days in a 180-day course will be assigned a WF and the F (as a 50) will be calculated in the student’s overall grade point average.

The three, five, and 10-day limitations for withdrawing from a course without penalty do not apply to course or course level changes approved by the administration of a school. The district will establish withdrawal limitations for distance learning courses.

Students who drop out of school or are expelled after the allowed period for withdrawal but before the end of the grading period will be assigned grades in accordance with the following:

  • The student will receive a WP if he/she was passing the course. The grade of WP will carry no Carnegie units and no quality points to be factored into the student’s GPA.

  • The student will receive a WF if he/she was failing the course. The grade of WF will carry no Carnegie units but will be factored into the student’s GPA as a 50.

If a student fails a course due to excessive absences, the school will record an FA on his/her transcript. The grade of FA will carry no Carnegie units but will be factored into the student’s GPA as a 50.

Retaking a Course

Students in grades nine through twelve may retake a course at the same level of difficulty regardless of their final grade. Students must complete an Intent to Retake a Course documentation. Retaking the course means that the student completes the entire course again (not a subset of the course such as through credit or content recovery). If the course being retaken has an EOCEP, the EOCEP must be retaken. The student’s transcript will reflect both course instances. Only one course attempt and the highest grade earned for the course will be calculated in the GPA.

A student who has taken a course for a unit of high school credit prior to his or her ninth grade year may also retake that course regardless of the grade he or she has earned. A student who retakes a high school credit course from middle school must complete it before the beginning of the second year of high school. A student in grades nine through twelve must retake a course by the end of the next school year or before the next sequential course (whichever comes first). In such a case, only the highest grade will be used in figuring the student’s GPA. The student may not retake the course if the course being replaced has been used as a prerequisite for enrollment in a subsequent course; i.e., a student may not retake Algebra 1 after having earned credit for a higher level mathematics course (Geometry, Algebra 2).

Class Rank

Class rank will be determined using the South Carolina Uniform Grading Policy that uses grade point ratios.

Honor Graduates

Honor graduates will be those students who have an unrounded GPA of 3.75 or higher according to the South Carolina Uniform Grading Policy at the end of the fourth quarter of the senior year. At the end of the third quarter a tentative list of honor graduates may be chosen using the above guidelines with the understanding that students may be added or deleted from the list after the fourth quarter based on final course grades. Final grades will be used to determine honor graduates to be recognized at graduation.

The valedictorian and salutatorian for the senior class will be determined as per the guidelines in the SDPC Regulation IHC-R regarding class ranking based on grades through the end of the third quarter of their senior year. These students may or may not be the top ranking students at the end of the fourth quarter. The only students who will be considered for valedictorian and salutatorian are those who entered the ninth grade three years prior to the senior year and those who have been enrolled at the specific district high school prior to the beginning of the second semester of their junior year.

Graduation Participation

A student may participate in the graduation ceremony if he or she will receive a South Carolina High School Diploma or meet the requirements of an IEP to receive a Certificate from the School District of Pickens County. However, schools reserve the right to deny students the privilege of participating in graduation ceremonies for students who are not in good standing with the school.

Other Programs

The Adult Learning Center offers the traditional adult education classes for those who need to complete their high school education and lifelong learning opportunities for those who wish to learn something new. The main office is at 201 S. 5th Street in Easley (West End Hall), and satellite locations are located throughout the county. Adult education classes include GED preparation classes; diploma classes; exit exam remediation classes; basic education classes; literacy referrals in coordination with Pickens County Literacy Association; and English for speakers of other languages. 

The Parenting and Family Literacy Program offers adult education with support services that include childcare, transportation, and parent education. The program operates at the A.R. Lewis Opportunity School at 1755 Shady Grove Road, Pickens.

Project GO is an alternative education program serving behaviorally at-risk students in grades 6-12. Students may be referred to the program after transfer from another alternative placement program, in lieu of expulsion, or proactively by a school intervention team as part of disciplinary plan. The program is located at the A.R. Lewis Opportunity School.

The Pickens County Career & Technology Center serves students from the four high schools in Pickens County. The career and technology center offers programs to students as they prepare for two- or four-year colleges or universities, direct entry into work, or entry into the armed forces. Students in high schools may attend the career and technology center for a portion of the school day to take courses in the following career and technology programs: Agricultural Technology; Horticulture; Mechatronics Integrated Technologies; Health Science Technology; Cosmetology; Architectural and Mechanical Design; Electricity; Pre-Engineering; Carpentry; Machine Technology; Automotive Technology; Masonry; Welding; Culinary Arts; Graphic Communication; Fire and Emergency Services; Biomedical Sciences; Law, Public Safety and Security.

Ninth and tenth-grade students have the opportunity to explore different careers in preparation for the world of work while eleventh- and twelfth-grade students usually specialize in one of the career programs offered. Ninth graders also have the opportunity to explore careers in agriculture. Students may participate in work-based learning activities and in cooperative education and the Youth Apprenticeship Initiative while in upper level courses.