For seniors Katelynn Jaklitsch and Gabrielle Finley, taking the Microsoft Excel industry exam at Green Run High School Feb. 26 meant a grueling 90 minutes of demonstrating competence with the software so they could earn a certificate.
They both passed.
“It was hard!” exclaimed Jaklitsch, “But I’m sure this certification will take us far and make us more valuable to employers.”
What Jaklistch and Finley did not know was that they and four other students who passed the test that morning, took Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBPCS) over the 100,000 threshold for industry certifications. So as they left the classroom after the test, a little surprise party was waiting in the hallway, complete with balloons, gifts and a hearty high-five from Principal Todd Tarkenton.
“I feel VIP!” laughed Finley as she and Jaklistch enjoyed some cake and camaraderie with their classmates.
VBCPS began testing for industry credentials in 2002, the same year that the Virginia Department of Education started to identify them.
“We strive to be the vanguard of school divisions when it comes to preparing our students for whatever they decide to do after graduation,” said VBCPS Superintendent Aaron Spence. “Whether it’s college, an apprenticeship, the military or employment right out of high school, VBCPS provides opportunities to support every young person’s career dream.”
Students who complete Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs participate in state-endorsed, industry-sponsored examinations that test technical skills. When a student passes the industry exam connected to the industry and course they are pursuing, a credential is awarded. This, when combined with the standard credit for a CTE course, can be used as a verified credit for graduation in most cases. By achieving standards that are recognized by business and industry, students’ postsecondary options include more job opportunities and better salaries.
Dr. Sara Lockett, director of the office of technical and career education, was working for the division when they administered only 152 tests the very first year. So the 100,000 milestone is personal for her.
“It means a lot to my heart because I know these students can take these credentials with them out into the world and prove their competency and prove that they know as much and have the same skills as the most qualified person in any applicant pool.”
VBCPS/CTE offers more than 100 different industry credential tests, including AutoCAD, Photoshop, Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Cosmetology State Board, Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), National Retail Federation (NRF) Customer Service Professional, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, W!SE Financial Management, Workforce Readiness and numerous National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) assessments.
For more information about VBCPS’s CTE program, please visit vbschools.com.