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Press Release: Maryland, Microsoft Strengthen Learning Powered By Technology

25 IT Academies Statewide; All Students Can Download Office 365 ProPlus at No Cost

For Immediate Release                                                        Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486

Beltsville, MD (January 8, 2015)

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery, announced today at High Point High School in Prince George’s County that 25 new high-level information technology academy programs are coming to Maryland schools. All Maryland public school students and their families also can download free Office productivity tools for learning through an agreement with the Microsoft Corporation

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and Microsoft collaborated to deliver cutting-edge technologies to students and educators in response to President Obama’s ConnectED challenge. On February 4, 2014, President Obama visited Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, MD to announce progress on the national ConnectED initiative to connect 99 percent of students to broadband Internet. Microsoft and other private-sector companies committed to deliver modern technologies to classrooms.

“Through this collaboration, young people and adults have access to the tools, skills and certification opportunities they need to train at school and at home for in-demand careers,” Dr. Lowery said. “Private-sector companies like Microsoft are helping to strengthen learning by increasing access to the technology and training needed to acquire skills for any professions that students choose to pursue.”

Microsoft will provide a one-year license for the Microsoft IT Academy program to 25 high schools in 10 county school systems. All students in the receiving high schools will have access to online courses and tutorials, and teachers receive unlimited access to instructional tools. While many students currently use Microsoft applications as part of daily instruction, creating documents, or completing assignments, not all students receive instruction in the use of advanced applications or computing. The Microsoft IT Academy resources are designed to help students learn computing and advance their technical skills in a wide range of applications and receive industry-recognized certifications.

“We are deeply committed to working with educational leadership to use the power of technology to provide schools and homes the software services, training, and tools that empower instruction and learning,” said Jamie Harper, General Manager, U.S. Education, Microsoft Corporation.  “We are pleased to work with the State of Maryland on these programs that will bring students skills and certifications to better help prepare them for college and the modern workforce.”

In addition, MSDE, Microsoft, and the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC) have arranged for all students at public schools in the State to receive the Microsoft Office 365
ProPlus benefit at no additional cost.  Every student and teacher at public schools across the State can download Microsoft Office on up to five PCs or Macs, and Office apps on any mobile device, enabling them to get their school work done virtually at any time and from anywhere.

The 25 high schools piloting the first Maryland Microsoft IT Academies were selected based on enrollment in existing computer science courses and their interest in expanding Career Technology Education (CTE) programs in Information Technology and Computer Science.

Under the Microsoft IT Academy program, schools, their educators, students and staff receive digital curriculum and professional development for teachers and administrators. The 25 IT Academy high schools also will establish a Certiport Assessment Center to provide students the opportunity to earn IT certifications for fundamental technology skills, including the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification. 

MTA is an optional industry-recognized certification for those pursuing a career path in IT infrastructure, database design, or software development using Microsoft technologies. Students must pass just one exam to achieve certification, giving them an encouraging first step toward a career in technology. For IT Academy participants, MTA enhances understanding of IT fundamentals and validates core knowledge. The certification fits well into the existing curriculum to bridge the gap to more advanced certifications and gives program participants another impressive accomplishment on their resume.

The no cost Office 365 ProPlus offer is available to all students at public schools across Maryland.  The following private and secure site has been developed by Planet Technologies, in collaboration with MSDE.  Students and their families can download Office 365 ProPlus at the following Internet address:

FACT SHEET: Microsoft IT Academies in Maryland