Privately funded Monroe County K-12 computing certification effort continues to expand

<Monroe/> Compute$ is a privately-funded effort to improve readiness for computing careers in Monroe County K-12 schools.  It was featured in a public radio report recently.  One of the primary donors, John Padget, is the Vice Chair of the Florida State Board of Education.  This was released by the organization yesterday:

Record numbers of Monroe County students earned Industry Certificates in computing and computer science during the 2015-2016 school year.

“251 students have been awarded cash prizes this year and we honor their commitment to increasing their computer science skills,” according to John Padget, representing one of the Padget-Dekker foundations. “The last batch of prize checks will be available for students to collect at each school office by July 5th.”

The most popular certificate was Microsoft Office (MICRO069), a combination of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. “Last year, 97 prizes were distributed and with 159 certificates earned this year, 256 prizes totaling over $75,000 have been claimed!” Padget said.
“We were especially pleased to see the growth in the Adobe certificates, with 65 ADOBE018 and ADOBE022 certificates awarded,” according to Melanie Stefanowicz, head of adult and career education. Prizes of $250 each were awarded by <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ and some students did both and received $500 prizes.

Stefanowicz was happy that 27 engaged middle school students at HOB, Sugarloaf, and PKS earned their IC3 certificates and collected $100 prizes for each.

Students from 6th grade through 12th grade from 8 different schools earned prizes.
Writing to the prize winners, Padget said, “All forecasts tell us that most jobs of the future will require some knowledge of computers and computer science. forecasts that there will be a million open jobs in America by 2020. Right now in Florida there are about 25,000 open jobs–in all industry sectors–that require computer science skills.”

“We hope you will be encouraged to add additional industry certificates to your portfolio. After you complete Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, you have the prerequisites for AP Computer Science. This course is available for free at the Florida Virtual School (FVS) at Interested students can start anytime, and be ready to take the AP exam in May 2017. You can earn both high school and college credit when you pass this course!”

Superintendent Mark Porter added his congratulations to the winners and to the teachers who advocated for their students and pioneered computer science study in the Keys. “We thank <Monroe /> COMPUTE$ , Jacob Dekker and John Padget for offering generous prizes and our students who qualified on national exams and earned their certificates. Most likely, they will add additional certificates to their computer science portfolios, starting next year.”

Porter also explained, “The Monroe County School District receives incremental incentive funding for each certificate earned. These successful students have brought in about $250,000 fresh funding from the state which will be invested directly to expand our computer science programs in each school.”

Monroe’s success has not gone unnoticed in Tallahassee. Chancellor Rod Duckworth, head of Florida’s career and adult education, said, “In just two years, Monroe has built a sustainable computer science program. There is now a “pipeline” of over 350 students ready to add more industry certificates to their portfolio, and will be better prepared for both college and career.”

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