“We are relieved we don’t have to go out and purchase additional vouchers anymore to get students certified,” Tyler said. “Knowing they have another opportunity to take the exam also helps students feel more comfortable and confident.”
The WIT academy also takes advantage of Carl Perkins grant funding for the MOS program through the California Partnership Academy. The Perkins grant requires detailed reporting, and Tyler tracks and submits student progress to federal education authorities through certification exam scores.
“The MOS exams fulfill the Perkins grant competency requirements that all students perform at a certain level,” Tyler said.
Dr. Laurie Looker, a school-to-career coordinator with the Conejo School District, is responsible for WIT and other Academy and Career Technical Education programs in the district. She uses the certification pass-rate data supplied by Tyler for her report to the California Department of Education to ensure grant funding continues.
“We receive federal money through Perkins funding,” Looker said. “In order to receive this funding, industry certification must be part of the Career Technical Education curriculum.”
During their first year in the WIT Academy, students have the option to earn up to four MOS certifications: Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Access. According to Tyler, students who complete their demanding class work and practice with Certiprep test preparation software for Microsoft Office 2007 are generally prepared and successful when they sit for an exam. Tyler’s students have achieved more than 80 certifications since the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year.
Once students earn their first certification, Tyler says the excitement builds to achieve many more. WIT students also feed off their parents’ enthusiasm for certification. Parents recently held a fundraiser to help pay for the Classroom License at Westlake High School. “Parental involvement and excitement for MOS certification has been one of the keys to growing the WIT Academy,” said Tyler. “When you get parent support, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
The 2010-2011 school year was the first that WIT Academy had a waiting list for students who wanted to join the program. Tyler believes interest in the program has piqued partially because students have the opportunity to earn more certifications with the Classroom License.