The Georgia Department of Education has teamed with technology giant Microsoft to offer students throughout the state an opportunity to take specialized classes that could lead to industry certifications.
Some school districts in the state were already offering those classes. Other districts, however, could not afford to, and the state is stepping in to pay $600,000 so public high school students have access to Microsoft’s IT Academy.
Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge, who touted the program during a visit to Fayette County High School Wednesday, said it is a nod to the importance of technology.
“Technology has so changed our world, and we have to recognize that,” Barge said. “This is an incredible benefit to all students in Georgia.”
Many classes will be offered in science, technology, engineering and math. Microsoft officials say it is offering Georgia students academic services worth $23 million per year.
Allowing students to get certifications fits with the state’s new push to prepare them for the work world in addition to college.
The state’s new performance measurement system will grade schools on how they prepare students for college and careers.
Drew Kendrick, 17, a senior at Fayette County High, expects to graduate with certification in small business administration after taking Microsoft IT Academy classes.
Kendrick said he wants to help his brother grow their clothing and art line. He said he’s just not sure what path he’ll take to get there.
“I’m definitely going to get a degree in business,” Kendrick said. “I might go to a two-year school and transfer to a four-year school like Georgia State.”
Kendrick said his business teachers told him about Microsoft IT classes he could take.
The classes, Kendrick said, have helped him get a firm grasp of what to expect in the business world.
Barge said that’s how the classes are supposed to work.
He said the classes will “connect students to the real world.”