North Carolina Public Schools and Microsoft Announce the Nation’s First Statewide Partnership to Provide IT Training to Every High School Student

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nov. 15, 2010 — North Carolina and Microsoft Corp. today announced that North Carolina is the first state in the nation to launch and implement the Microsoft IT Academy Program at all public high schools statewide. The Microsoft IT Academy provides students with real-world technology skills they need to be successful in college and their careers. Under the agreement announced today by the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison and Microsoft executives Siegfried Behrens, general manager for U.S. Education, and Lutz Ziob, general manager for Microsoft Learning, teachers will also receive official Microsoft learning curricula as well as professional development support and resources to help them tailor their instruction. The announcement, which kicks off National Education Week, took place at Wake County’s Leesville Road High School, one of the 37 high schools currently piloting the Microsoft IT Academy program.

“In today’s economy, providing the Microsoft IT Academy to high schools just makes sense,” Atkinson said. “The ability to effectively use Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access is an essential skill in most businesses and offices today. I am pleased that North Carolina can provide this opportunity for teachers to improve their skills and for students to be career-ready.”

The Microsoft IT Academy is a comprehensive program that supports ongoing technology education for students, teachers and other education professionals. The program features access to online learning content, official Microsoft course materials, instructor resources and support materials including lesson plans, software licenses and professional, industry-recognized certifications. There are currently 9,000 Microsoft IT Academy Program members in more than 100 countries, and the North Carolina school system’s adoption of the Microsoft IT Academy Program is the largest in the world to date.

“Strengthening America’s role as the world’s leader in technology is essential to meeting the challenges of this century. We are excited to partner with North Carolina as the first state in the nation to deploy the Microsoft IT Academy to every high school and to help equip students with the IT skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow,” Behrens said. “Microsoft certifications are widely recognized by employers and can give students an edge in today’s competitive job market.”

An additional 20 school districts have agreed to field-test the program in select high schools, beginning in January 2011 in time for the second semester of the school year. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction leaders say they anticipate all of the state’s 628 public high schools will participate in time for the 2011–12 school year.

Students are able to earn certification as Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) or Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) by completing the Microsoft IT Academy coursework and passing certification exams. By the fall of 2011, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction is recommending that all high schools use the Microsoft IT Academy curriculum in teaching their students Computer Applications I, a course in the Career and Technical Education Standard Course of Study.

“North Carolina’s focus is on preparing students to be career and college-ready so they can meet the challenges of higher education and of the workplace,” Harrison said. “Today’s announcement is good news for students regardless of their future plans. This gives them the opportunity to graduate from high school with skills that are welcomed by employers and useful to them in higher education.”

About North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 100 charter schools serving approximately 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state’s public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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