Original article

RICHMOND, Virginia - -Governor Bob McDonnell today congratulated Virginia high school students across the Commonwealth who earned Microsoft Specialist Master Certifications as part of Information Technology Academy (ITA) programs during the 2011-2012 school year.

"I applaud these students from across Virginia who displayed advanced skills in career and technical subjects-skills that will help prepare them for good jobs in the future," Governor McDonnell stated. "The rapid advancements in new technologies are driving the demand for new, non-credit course offerings and industry certifications. Programs like this help ensure that Virginia's students are better prepared to enter the workplace. These students' efforts are particularly important for Virginia's economy, as we compete with our neighbors and abroad."

Secretary of Education Laura Fornash added, "The students were able to attain Microsoft Masters Certifications not only because of their hard work, but also due to the strategic collaboration between Microsoft and local school districts and teachers throughout the Commonwealth in teacher training. Both the students and the Commonwealth will benefit as we continue to focus on preparing our students for success in the 21st century."

As a result of Virginia's ITA partnership during the 2011-2012 school year:

  • Approximately 45,000 students were enrolled in 28 high school career and technical education courses that were aligned to the Microsoft IT Academy program content.
  • 6,651 individual students earned 6,866 Microsoft ITA certifications
  • 32 students achieved the Microsoft Office Specialist Master Level (to achieve the Master Level, a student must pass four individual Microsoft Office Suite examinations that include Word Expert, Excel Expert, PowerPoint, and one of four elective exams such as Access
  • 276 individual teachers earned 301 Microsoft IT certifications
  • 1, 092 teachers and staff participated in Microsoft Academy program training

A Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification helps validate proficiency in using Microsoft Office 2010 and meets the demand for the most up-to-date skills on the latest Microsoft technologies. Students who pass a certification exam differentiate themselves in today's competitive job market by showing that they can meet globally recognized performance standards. Individual certifications are also available in Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office XP. Candidates must pass one certification exam in order to earn a MOS certification.

The MOS Master Certification helps demonstrate an individual's overall comprehension of and expertise in using Microsoft Office programs. Microsoft Office Specialist Masters are technically skilled to take advantage of the breadth of features efficiently and effectively. Research indicates that certified individuals have increased competence, productivity and credibility with their employers, co-workers and clients. For employers, the certification provides skill-verification tools that not only help assess a person's skills in using Microsoft Office programs but also the ability to quickly complete on-the-job tasks across multiple programs in the Microsoft Office system.

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