Columbia Junior High’s Career and Technical Education/Business and Marketing teacher Keith Hannah has started up a new venture by incorporating Microsoft Office Specialist certification testing in his classroom. Now he is set up as an official testing center and is opening up the testing to parents of Columbia students as well, and at no charge.
“Usually the test costs $75 to $100 each time you attempt it, but they could come in and try the testing for free under our license agreement,” Hannah said.
Used in business and industry as a benchmark of competency using Microsoft Office applications, the Microsoft Office Specialist certification not only looks impressive on a resume or job application, it sends a clear message to potential employers that this candidate really knows their stuff when it comes to Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Access programs.
“This semester, I am going to have students take the certification test in both Word and PowerPoint. Next semester, I might expand this to include Excel,” Hannah said.
“As these kids start going out and applying even for their first part-time jobs, as an employer if I were to look at the application or resume of even a young person and see that they’re Microsoft Office certified, that says something to me about their skill level.”
Such a challenge may very well be a tough one to predict the outcome, as Hannah’s students so far have shown themselves to be ace testers. “I was told by CertiPort, the company that the certification testing is run through, that only about 20 percent of the people that take the test pass it on the first try. After my first day of testing, I had 126 students test and 65 of them – 52 percent – certified on the first try,” Hannah said. “Doing this with ninth graders I didn’t really know what to expect with it…but they really kind of hit it out of the park.
“What was really great to see was how supportive the kids were of each other and how excited they’d get for each other when they would pass the certification test.” Hannah said that what was even more rewarding was when one of his ELL (English Language Learner) students didn’t let his first two attempts to pass the test dissuade him from trying again. “He was determined that he was going to pass it and he did on the third time. That was really great to see.”
While Hannah teaches his students the various programs of Microsoft Office before they take the tests, adults must come already knowing these programs. However, Hannah can help out there as well. “I do have some free curriculum resources that I can share with them electronically that they can study before they take the test,” he said. The test can be taken as often as necessary until a passing grade is achieved. “It might be fun for parents and students to challenge each other to see who can get the highest score.”