Program lets high school students earn IT certifications

Posted October 27, 2014 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 28, 2014 11:24 a.m. EDT

— 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.