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IT Academy Goes Statewide in Washington

Microsoft IT Academy was launched Wednesday, Sept. 14, for public high schools, skills centers, and tribal schools across Washington. The state Legislature provided $4 million in funding through 2013.

The program is designed to help students and teachers learn information technology skills that can be translated into jobs. During the 2011-2012 school year, Washington state and Microsoft will pilot the Microsoft IT Academy at 63 schools, and program is available now to all 703 high schools, tribal schools, and skill centers.

"We're very excited about the Microsoft IT Academy," said Randy Dorn, Washington state superintendent of public instruction, during a presentation of the training at Ingraham High School in Seattle. "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."

The IT Academy features:

  • Training and certification in Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as programming, Web development, and database development. Specifically, they can receive Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Technology Association, or Microsoft Certified Professional certifications;
  • Microsoft software for technology labs, classrooms, and PCs used by students;
  • Access to Microsoft e-learning courses and the Instructor Learning Management System for the instructor to help track student progress;
  • Discounts on courseware available to academic institutions only;
  • TechNet subscriptions, which provide resources for teachers looking to expand their professional development, and students mastering IT professional concepts and skills;
  • Downloadable and customizable lesson plans to help the instructor save class preparation time, personalized course completion certificates, and a free tool that enables teachers to create online courses;
  • Microsoft Digital Literacy, which includes four computer basics curriculum: the Internet and World Wide Web, Productivity Programs, Computer Security and Privacy, and Digital Lifestyles; and
  • Five hours per month per school of mentoring from a Microsoft employee.

"The Microsoft IT Academy program makes education more relevant to students so they can move from learning to earning," said Sig Behrens, Microsoft general manager for U.S. Education. "Washington state schools, teachers and students are now at an advantage in keeping pace with changing technology and curriculum demands. The program also gives students equal access to the IT skills and certification they need to both prepare for advanced studies and to improve career opportunities with higher earning potential."

Washington is the second state to implement the Microsoft IT Academy program statewide. North Carolina piloted high schools in 29 counties in 2010-2011 and expanded the program to the entire state in 2011-2012. Virginia has announced it will be the third state to make the Academy program available to all public high schools.

For more information, visit the Microsoft IT Academy Web site.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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