REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 16, 1999 — According to a recently completed survey of educators participating in the Microsoft® Authorized Academic Training Program (AATP), students’ overall high school experience is improved by the program because it encourages them to pursue higher education, motivates them to apply their new information-technology (IT) skills in real-life situations, and leads them to become supporting members of their school communities. The December 1998 study surveyed high school teachers participating in AATP throughout the United States.
AATP is a formal technology training and support program designed to prepare high school, vocational, community college and four-year college students for careers as network managers, systems administrators and programmers. AATP’s goal is to provide access to training and certification on Microsoft application development and server and networking technologies, such as the Visual Basic® development system and the Microsoft Windows NT® , Windows® 95 and Windows 98 operating systems, in an environment that is convenient and affordable for students and educational institutions.
Conducted by Market Facts Inc., Arlington Heights, Ill., the survey revealed that more than 84 percent of the teachers responding overwhelmingly believe that participation in AATP changes the way students feel about school and learning and encourages them to apply for college or other continuing education. Key findings indicate that AATP students receive the following benefits from the program:
They learn the value of continuing education after high school.
Nearly 75 percent of AATP teachers say their high school students develop more positive attitudes about continuing their IT studies in college as a result of participating in AATP.
They use the skills they have learned in internships and part-time jobs.
More than 70 percent of AATP instructors say that as a result of participating in AATP, those students are more likely than others to hold internships and part-time jobs using the IT skills they’ve learned in class.
They gain hands-on experience as technology experts.
Nearly 85 percent of AATP instructors say their students become active members in their school community, helping teachers with technology questions and problems and often helping support the school’s IT system.
“As the number of high schools participating in AATP increases, we wanted to know more about the impact that participation in the program has on students,” said Kris Vezina, Microsoft AATP manager. “We are very pleased with these results because they show that AATP is helping educators and students, especially those who otherwise might not have access to such training. Microsoft is truly committed to helping schools offer a high-quality technology training program that not only teaches students highly marketable information-technology skills, but also encourages students to further their education and set their sights on careers in the high-tech industry.”
Work-Force Demand for Skilled Computer Professionals
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, in the next seven years, U.S. companies will require more than 1 million new IT workers. However, high schools, colleges and universities are not graduating enough students with the skills needed to fill that growing demand.
Recognizing the opportunities for students with IT training, Jefferson County DuBois Area Voc-Tech High School in rural western Pennsylvania is integrating AATP into its course offerings. At Jeff-Tech, AATP instructor Bob Wachob said that his students are already taking care of almost all of the school’s information technology needs, from pulling cable for network expansion to trouble-shooting teachers’ and students’ technology problems.
“How can you go wrong with a program that offers students state-of-the-art technology skills and real-world certification? We joined AATP because we wanted to give our students options,” Wachob said. “With AATP, our students are learning about careers in the technology industry other than those of office workers and Web page developers. Before AATP, most of our students didn’t even know there was such a thing as a network engineer. Now they are considering gaining the skills to build networks, manage network security, design their own programs and more. These are possibilities that had never really occurred to them.”
AATP instructor Denise Jackson said her experiences teaching in the Texas communities of Jacksonville and Wimberley support what other teachers reported in the study, especially when it comes to students’ enthusiasm for hands-on experience and continuing education.
“Microsoft AATP is an incredible learning situation for kids,” Jackson said. “The program gives students the experience and knowledge to trouble-shoot problems on their own computers or for a whole network. But more important, through hands-on experience at school and in the workplace, our students are building self-esteem as well as communication and problem-solving skills as they work side by side with adults. And they are earning industry-recognized certification.”
Jackson agreed that the program reinforces to her students the importance of continuing their academic career. Before her AATP classes begin each year, Jackson surveys her students, asking how many plan to attend college. After asking that question again at the end of the one-year course in Jacksonville, she reported that nearly 95 percent of the 100 students surveyed said they had decided to attend college. Only a quarter of the students had been planning to go to college when the course started.
Launched in 1995, AATP has seen a more than 400 percent increase in the number of participating schools. Last year alone, Microsoft committed $75 million in technology resources, training and support for teachers and students nationwide through the program. Forty-eight states and nine Canadian provinces in North America and 38 countries worldwide participate in Microsoft AATP.
Microsoft AATP will train more than 200,000 students and include more than 1,850 schools by the end of the 1998-99 academic year. Microsoft AATP provides tools, resources and curricula to help approved schools offer courses that equip students with highly sought-after information technology skills and prepare them for Microsoft Certified Professional exams. More information on ways that schools can participate in AATP is available on the Web at http://www.microsoft.com/aatp/ .
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
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