Certification Provides H.S. Students with Industry-Recognized Credentials

Every year, more than 1,000 Utah high school students spend part of their day in college and career training at the Canyons Technical Education Center (CTEC). The Sandy, Utah campus offers 19 programs ranging from Criminal Justice to Medical Assisting, including 4 technology programs: Digital Media, Network Systems, Programming/Software Development, and Web Development.

When Jeannie DelRio joined CTEC as the instructional assistant and test administrator seven years ago, the school had implemented Certiport’s Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC3) in the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT), which includes the school’s four technology programs, however only a few students per year were earning the certification.

“We are unique for offering this industry-valued credential that will help students in the future and I wanted to make sure every student earned a certification to build their resume,” says DelRio. “Students who come to CTEC have worked hard to make room in their high school schedule to spend their time with us, and our goal is to get them on the right path for the career of their choice.”

DelRio set out to expand the IC3 program at CTEC by ensuring that every student in the AOIT earned certification.

When Certiport made IC3 site licenses available, CTEC quickly switched from a voucher system to the site license to offer unlimited IC3 testing for one flat fee so every AOIT student could earn certification. As a result, the Business Management Program also adopted IC3 into their curriculum.

“The site license really made it feasible for us to expand the IC3 program,” says DelRio. “Since we were already doing certification, implementation was simple, we just expanded the number of students who could test. Plus, students could retest if necessary without a strain on our budget.”

The Utah State Office of Education gives high school credit for the IC3 certification, so students who pass can waive the high school computer tech requirement. DelRio and her team created a tight curriculum where students work to get certified during their first quarter at CTEC so they can go on to focus on the more advanced certifications for their specific programs such as A+, CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals, or Adobe Certified Associate.

Lezlie Harper, the AOIT department head, explains how they implemented IC3 in their curriculum at CTEC. “Each technology instructor teaches IC3 concepts and we set aside Mondays as certification day. On certification day students are expected to be dressed professionally. Wearing a suit or slacks helps students take this exam seriously, and helps them to understand that IC3 certification is preparing them for a career.”

CTEC teachers emphasize the IC3 curriculum during the first quarter, and the students study, take practice exams, and brush up on their weaknesses until they are ready to pass the exam.

Harper was impressed with how simple implementing the IC3 solution has been for many types of students and abilities. “The way we implemented IC3, students can jump right in and take the exam their first week at CTEC if they have tech experience. Or, they can study and we can work with them for months if necessary to get them ready.”

Last year, 131 AOIT students earned IC3 certification, up from just 13 students 5 years ago. In addition, 39 students from the business program earned certification.

DelRio is thrilled with the program and says students are benefiting greatly in both college and the workforce from earning IC3 certification. “These students are going on to work in the field, and they have the basic IT certification that tells employers they won’t have to hang over them and teach them.”

Will Frakes, a CTEC student, says earning IC3 certificaiton helped him get an internship with the Canyons School District and a job with the customer support department at Office Depot. “IC3 tells employers you know how to do the jobs they require on computers and the Internet. Earning certification became the main part of my resume, and I think IC3 is a great opportunity for anyone wanting to get ahead and have a better job.”

Certification has become one of the main components of the AOIT as they aim to get students career-focused and armed to work in their chosen fields. This year they participated in the IC3 World Cup competition for the first time and came in 14th in the world.

One of DelRio’s students used her as a reference as she applied for a job at a new hospital. When HR contacted DelRio about the candidate, she mentioned IC3 certification and the skills it validates. “The HR person told me she was going to give the student a different job, which was actually two levels higher than the one she was applying for. Since she had a working knowledge of technology, she obtained a much better starting position.”

CTEC students have gotten excited about earning IC3 certification since it boosts their resume, satisfies high school and often college requirements, and gives them confidence to know they can succeed in the information technology field.

“IC3 allows my students to demonstrate their competencies right out of the gate,” says Harper. “I have several students who have landed jobs and scholarships with the help of certification.”