Nearly three years after the launch of the nation’s first statewide Microsoft IT Academy, North Carolina students and teachers have earned more than 100,000 professional certifications through the innovative program. State Superintendent June Atkinson today joined Microsoft executives, teachers and students to announce and celebrate this milestone at Microsoft’s YouthSpark Connections event at the Friday Institute on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
“During the past three years, North Carolina’s Microsoft IT Academy program has enabled students across the state to refine their technology skills so they are better prepared to enter college or the workplace,” said Atkinson. “Thanks to this partnership, our state is a national leader in providing students and teachers the opportunity to earn industry-recognized professional certifications, boost their resumes and become more competitive for jobs in today’s economy.”
The Microsoft IT Academy offers digital access to instructional curriculum and certifications that enable students to learn Microsoft computer programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access. Because the Academy includes computer-based instruction in addition to traditional instruction, students may take advantage of a variety of options in completing the programs at their own pace, both in the classroom and at home. Students earn certifications as a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) or a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) by completing the Microsoft IT Academy coursework and passing certification exams. Teachers also are able to obtain professional development and earn industry credentials through the program.
“We’re extremely proud of the accomplishments of students and teachers in North Carolina who have earned certification through the Microsoft IT Academy,” said Brian Field, general manager for the East Region of US Education at Microsoft. “We began this program with a mission to ensure that students from every background and in every county had the same opportunity to be Microsoft trained and certified. With the support of the local community, we’ve been able to accomplish that and more. The skills students have acquired are an integral part of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) learning programs and will help them compete globally for the jobs of the future.”
In November 2010, Atkinson and former North Carolina State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison announced the new collaboration between the state and Microsoft that made North Carolina the first state in the country to offer the Microsoft IT Academy in all of its high schools. Schools in 29 counties piloted the program during the fall semester of 2010-11. The program extended to 72 counties that spring. It was implemented statewide in the fall of 2011.
Students who enroll in the Microsoft IT Academy can take two courses, one in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, and one in Excel and Access. Currently, 51,000 students are enrolled in these two courses. This past fall, these Microsoft IT Academy courses replaced Computer Applications I, which was the state’s largest elective in Career and Technical Education. In the spring, the state began piloting courses in Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook through a joint initiative of the state’s Department of Public Instruction and the North Carolina Virtual Public School using Microsoft IT Academy e-learning. It is anticipated that the pilot will launch in the spring of 2014.
Microsoft IT Academy has over 15,000 partner institutions worldwide in over 133 countries.
Vance County received nearly 400 certifications since 2010.