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What's an IT Academy Worth?

In checking out the Born to Learn blog this morning, I saw some numbers that just about made me fall over. As you may or may not know North Carolina was the first US State to adopt the Microsoft IT Academy statewide, back in 2010. Last week, they announced the program had produced its 200,000th Microsoft certification among their student and faculty population. That's a pretty significant accomplishment over 5 years.

For once, a slogan that doesn't over-promise and under-deliver.

To me the really interesting item in this posting came from State Superintendent of Education Dr. June Atkinson who said the following:

"Over the past five years, North Carolina’s Microsoft IT Academy has saved students and teachers more than $20 million in certification costs and enabled them to build valuable technology skills required by today’s employers."

That's a huge savings in outright outlays, but the value of the program -- as the quote itself says -- goes way beyond that arbitrary amount of money. The real value is in the relevance and utility of the skills and knowledge gained in learning the material, then earning those certs. It also brings a social good as well, in that students can take those skills and knowledge with them to the workplace, and use them to find interesting and useful work to do.

I've put in a call to Carrie Francey, the Senior Director of Sales, Marketing and Programs at MS Learning, and the author of the afore-linked blog post. I know lots of school districts have joined the IT Academy program, including most of those nearby my own residence in central Texas. But I'm curious if there have been any other statewide school adoptions in the US besides North Carolina. As soon as I find out, I'll make an addition to this blog post, and share that information with you.

In the meantime if you have offspring of any degree (kids, grandkids, and so forth) or friends with offspring, you may want to look into the availability of Microsoft IT Academy offerings in your own local school districts. It's not a bad direction into which to steer the younger generation, particularly those with a proclivity for computing.