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Alabama Department of Education and Microsoft Announce New Statewide Technology Program

     Alabama Department of Education and Microsoft Announce New Statewide
                              Technology Program

Students now have the opportunity to earn professional technology credentials
before graduating from high school.

PR Newswire

MONTGOMERY, Ala. and REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 20, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. and REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alabama
Department of Education and Microsoft Corp. today formally announced the
official launch of the Alabama Microsoft IT Academy Program. This new
initiative is focused on further developing the overall technology skills of
students.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO)

Alabama's Microsoft IT Academy will provide opportunities for students to earn
certifications in Microsoft product areas, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft
Word and Microsoft PowerPoint. This program will be available in all high
schools statewide and will provide students with the valuable 21st century
technical skills they need to be successful in both college and their future
careers.

Gov. Robert Bentley said, "Offering industry certification to Alabama's
students will help ensure growth in our workforce. Adding qualified
individuals to local businesses will improve economic success."

The Microsoft IT Academy Program will provide participating local school
systems with access to Web-based instruction, software lab licenses,
e-learning and official course materials. Course topics will range from
computer basics to high-level programming and database management. Students
will get hands-on experience with the latest Microsoft software and e-learning
resources. This program will also allow students to earn professional-level
workplace credentials and technology skills before they graduate from high
school.

"Through this program, we can assure business and industry of a skill set in
the area of technology and ensure students entering college are equipped with
the technical skills to succeed academically," State Superintendent of
Education Tommy Bice said.

Pilot Year for This Initiative
Currently, one school in each school system throughout the state is
participating in this program. Starting in the 2013–2014 school year, the
Microsoft IT Academy Program will be expanded to additional schools.

"The Microsoft IT Academy Program makes education more relevant to students so
they can move from learning to earning," said Cameron Evans, chief technology
officer for U.S. Education, Microsoft. "Alabama schools, teachers and students
are now at an advantage in keeping pace with changing technology and
curriculum demands. The program also gives students equal access to the IT
skills and certification they need to both prepare for advanced studies and to
improve career opportunities with higher earning potential."

IT certifications are increasingly being recognized as valuable credentials
nationwide. Many institutions in Alabama are requiring freshmen students to
pass a computer proficiency exam. This initiative is important because it will
help Alabama's students be better prepared for their futures.

The Microsoft IT Academy Program works to bridge the gap between education and
the real world of work by helping to equip students with the technology-based
skills they'll need for successful careers in today's highly competitive job
market.

Benefits of Program
Students will have access to official course materials that can help them
prepare to acquire industry-recognized Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft
Technology Associate or Microsoft Certified Professional certifications. The
program also focuses on helping students become both college- and
career-ready.

Benefits to Schools Participating in the Microsoft IT Academy
Microsoft IT Academy provides schools and educators the necessary training and
resources they need to offer students instruction on the latest IT and
business applications. Benefits include access to many programs, such as the
following:

  oIT Academy members' websites.
  oE-learning curriculum — with more than 1,500 online multimedia courses to
    choose from, including games, simulations and videos — to provide students
    with a hands-on learning experience.
  oMicrosoft Digital Literacy curriculum for students who are new to
    computing skills.
  oMicrosoft E-Reference Library, a searchable library of more than 600
    Microsoft Press books. Each school will receive five subscriptions.
  oAccess to Microsoft DreamSpark, a program providing students and teachers
    in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines with
    access to Microsoft software developer tools and platforms under the
    DreamSpark license designed for academic institutions.

Alabama is the seventh state in the U.S. to participate in this innovative
program.

Those interested in learning more about Alabama's new  Microsoft IT Academy
Program should contact Alabama State Department of Education Career and
Technical Education Administrator Dawn Morrison at (334) 242-9109 or
dmorrison@alsde.edu.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software,
services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full
potential.

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

Website: http://www.microsoft.com
Contact: Ed Crenshaw, Alabama Department of Education, +1-334-353-5220,
ecrenshaw@alsde.edu; or Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide for
Microsoft, +1-503-443-7070, rrt@waggeneredstrom.com