For seniors, Katelynn Jaklitsch and Gabrielle Finley, taking the Microsoft Excel industry exam at Green Run High School 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, ushered Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBPCS) past 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 like a VIP!” laughed Finley, as she and Jaklistch enjoyed some cake and camaraderie with their classmates.
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. (Courtesy story and photo.)
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 division Superintendent Aaron Spence. “Whether it’s college, an apprenticeship, the military or employment right out of high school, we provide opportunities to support every young person’s career dream.”
Students who complete certain Career and Technical Education 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 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 may include more job opportunities and better salaries.
Dr. Sara Lockett, director of the division's office of technical and career education, was working for the division when it 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,” she said.
The division 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, visit vbschools.com.