Program lets high school students earn IT certifications

Posted October 27, 2014
Updated October 28, 2014

— Twelve North Carolina teachers are taking part in a nationwide pilot program that allows students to earn up to five information technology certifications before graduating from high school.

Public schools in North Carolina have offered computer engineering classes for years, but the lone industry certification that the course was aligned with was found to be difficult for even seasoned IT workers. So, Raleigh-based ExplorNet and The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning revamped the curriculum to provide certifications in CompTIA’s A+ and Strata programs and Microsoft Technology Associate certifications in operating systems, networking and security fundamentals.

"Having those on their resume, being able to say, 'I've earned these credentials just coming out of high school,' that positions them really well to be competitive," said Rachel Porter, executive director of the Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning.

Lawrence Mitchell at Apex High School is one of the North Carolina teachers participating in the pilot program. He said it helps him accomplish his mission as a teacher.

"That's what we're focusing on now: To give our kids a competitive edge because we're in a global society. Every little bit helps," Mitchell said. "(These are) good credentials that say, 'I have some knowledge, and I have some proficiency in this area.'"

Apex High senior Stefan Benedict said he hopes the certifications give him a boost in his job search once he graduates.

"I'm certified in this, and employers are going to be like, 'Oh, I've got a job opening for this, and you've got the certifications for it,'" Benedict said.

Other area schools in the pilot program include Wakefield High School, Cary High School, Hillside High School, Lee County High School and Northern Nash High School.


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  • Emil Barnabas Oct 29, 2014
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    "I'm not sure why this isn't done across the board. For example, some states have Health Occupations" Lots of NC high school students are earning Health Occupations certifications.

    "The *real* expertise comes from having a job in the field." We are promoting internships .

    "still think they can take this one step further and move into software; i.e. programming certifications." NC high school students are earning lots of programming certifications.

    "This should be expanded to every high school." The best way to get this to happen is to get the local businesses to talk to the high school principal and school board.

    Here is the link to the state report for NC high school students earning 104,375 industry-recognized credentials in 2013

  • Imma Annoid Oct 28, 2014
    user avatar

    I'm not sure why this isn't done across the board. For example, some states have Health Occupations training throughout high school and kids can graduate certified in the following:

    Practical Nursing*

    Pharmacy Assisting

    Nurse’s Assisting

    Medical Assisting

    Home Health Assisting

    Personal Trainer Assisting

    Dental Assisting

    Medical Laboratory Technology

    Dental Laboratory Technology

    Emergency Medical Services

  • dalgal416 Oct 28, 2014

    They need more of these certification classes and such in schools, get rid of the common core where 99% of it isn't used in the real world. Start transitioning to trade schools and certify and train these kids for a future and help them succeed in life.

  • Robert Malton Oct 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I work in the IT field and I could not agree more. I rather have a person with a Tech Degree (give them some hand on experience) and the Certification. Like you I seen plenty that got the certification but still couldn't add a user to domain or a computer.

  • housemanagercary Oct 28, 2014

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    ^ Agreed

  • Erica Konopka Oct 28, 2014
    user avatar

    This is a great idea. Unfortunately, these certs only show that a person can memorize rote material for an exam. The *real* expertise comes from having a job in the field. I've worked with enough MCSA certified folks that barely know their way around desktop support to prove that theory. A+ certification is pretty much obsolete. MTA certs are all fundamentals level, but make decent stepping stones. That being said, employers do look for these certs and favor those with them, so if we're not going to get on with the FANTASTIC idea of optional vocational schools, this is the next best thing, at least for kids interested in IT.

  • itsnotmeiswear Oct 28, 2014

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    I would agree about the need, but the software changes happen so fast that keeping teachers updated would be very expensive. I think coding boot camps are the best route for people to get trained fast and timely on software.

  • KimJongUn Oct 28, 2014

    Great idea...still think they can take this one step further and move into software; i.e. programming certifications. The need is much greater and income upside is better as well.

  • Singlemalt Oct 28, 2014

    I wish this type of program existed when I was in HS. This is really great for the kids who take advantage of it.

  • itsnotmeiswear Oct 28, 2014

    Great idea. This should be expanded to every high school.