High School IT Academies

On September 14, 2011, Microsoft and the Superintendent of public schools of the State of Washington, Randy Dorn, announced the launch of an initiative to bring the Microsoft IT Academy Program to over 700 schools.  The same day, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell also announced a partnership with Microsoft to bring the Academy to schools.

The Microsoft IT Academy Program helps provide schools with the resources to teach innovative technologies.  Membership in the program is open to accredited or state-sponsored primary, secondary, tertiary, preparatory, vocational, trade, and military schools.  The courses and activities associated with the Academy are designed to increase the employability of students and prepare them for future careers in IT.

“Right now, one out of every two of today’s jobs requires some technology skills.  That number will increase to three out of every four jobs in 10 years. We need to make sure our students are trained in areas that will get them jobs,” Dorn explained at a presentation of the training at a Seattle high school.

Washington is not the only state to get in on the act however.  Virginia will begin to implement the Academy in 30 high schools and nine regional and technological education centers with the hope of establishing the program in all high schools by the end of this school year.  Governor Bob McDonnell similarly expressed the importance of STEM education projects, “In today’s global economy, it is essential that our students are prepared for the skilled and technical jobs that are driving job growth today and will continue to be important economic drivers in the future.”

Anne Rowe of the Virginia Department of Education told Government Technology, “The MTA [Microsoft Technology Associates program] and MCP [Microsoft Certified Professional program] are very viable because we have courses that teach Oracle database, Cisco networking systems and we have a variety of levels of technology in our curriculum today… Now we’ll have more resources to help students get to a better level of preparation for the credentialing.”

Washington and Virginia are following the lead of North Carolina, which applied the Microsoft IT Academy to all of its high schools in the 2010-2011 school year. Curt Miller, a business and information technology education consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, emphasized the positive response from teachers: “They liked that they were teaching a specific technology skill set – leading to certifications recognized by businesses.”

Posted by: Rebecca Anderson

Sources: DailyMarkets.com, Government Technology, Microsoft IT Academy Program, Microsoft News Center, Washington Examiner

Photo Credit: Laptop courtesy of flickr user Hannaford

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