IT Certs May Become Fixtures in High Schools

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As information technology increasingly underpins organizational operations in just about every field, many high schools in this country continue to add IT classes to their curricula. Amid these additions, though, is there a place for certifications that have traditionally been developed for and marketed to professionals? According to Kerri Krell, Prosoft Learning’s vice president of market development, the answer to that question is a most enthusiastic “yes!”


“We’ve definitely shifted from ‘get a certification and get a high-paying job’ being the only mission of certification,” she said. “What’s happened now is that schools and states are able to use certification for standardization. Then, the student is able to take that certification and have an educational pathway with it. We’re helping students move through education, not just trying to get them employment.”


Prosoft Learning announced a partnership last month with the Tennessee Department of Education to offer some of the company’s CIW Internet certification courses to high school students. Secondary schools in the state will teach Web Site–Foundations, Web Page Design–Site Designer and Web Page Design–E-Commerce classes, all three of which conform completely to CIW standards. Prosoft has similar agreements with seven other states and is currently in negotiations with the Departments of Education in Wisconsin and Washington state to expand the program to those places.


“Within the (Tennessee) Department of Education, there is department that’s called the Career and Technical Education division,” Krell explained. “With that, they have specific courses that are geared toward students that get them prepared for the workforce. They already had standards that were built around the Web. After we did our partnership with the state, we sat down with the CIW executives and rewrote their state standards for both trade and industrial, which is one section of career and technical education, as well as their business education courses. With that, they’ve adopted the objectives so that each teacher that’s teaching the course is going towards those standards. Then, with that, they’re using the CIW curriculum to teach the course and testing the students by the end of the course.


“That’s not to say they’re not going to use Cisco, Microsoft, CompTIA or any of those,” she added. “Those are also courses that would be offered to the students. Another student could choose the A+ course, but if you’re looking at Web courses, then you’d use CIW.”


There are a few reasons why certifications have been such effective programs in secondary education environments and will likely be adopted by many more high schools, Krell said. “The reason states are choosing CIW is that they’re able to create articulation agreements, meaning that once students have passed the certification exam, they’ll actually get college credit and then can move into the higher-level CIW courses in post-secondary. In Tennessee, they have a statewide articulation agreement. Any community college or technical college will accept that student and give them credit for having passed the CIW in high school.”


“I think that there are several things they’re looking for,” she said. “They’re looking for certifications to support and validate what they’re teaching. We did the research to find out what industries are looking for and what students need to know to be functional in that job role. We’re able to support those schools in giving them the information they need to teach. Beyond that, they’re also looking at how to standardize the curriculum, so that when a student comes out of a course, they know that they’ve all learned the same things. They can use that certification as standardization.”


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