Using certifications to jumpstart student success in Illinois

In a world where competition for jobs, pay increases, and academic success continues to increase, certifications offer hope because they are a credible, third-party assessment of a candidate’s skill and knowledge for a given subject. To empower learners with these credentials to succeed, school districts across Illinois partnered with Certiport, helping bring industry-recognized certifications to schools and learners in their communities. Discover how this impacted students and employers in their respective areas.

Why certification?

Illinois’ Career and Technical Education programs are focused on preparing students for careers in high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand occupations. Certiport’s certification programs are preparing students for prosperous careers across the state, from rural areas such as Flora, to urban destinations like Chicago.

“In Chicago Public Schools, we are placing high emphasis on teaching in the classroom that have high quality post-secondary outcomes,” said Chandler Meyer-Brown, Director of Career and Technical Education for Chicago Public Schools. “We know that teaching and certifying students has long-term impact on student success.”

To set students up for success, districts across Illinois leverage several certifications from the Certiport portfolio, including:

By selecting a diverse portfolio of certifications, Illinois educators are preparing students to enter the workforce, with doors open to multiple industries. “For many years now we’ve known that students need a variety of credentials when they want to prepare for going into the workforce. Certainly, industry certifications have become an increasingly important building block for our students’ success,” said Anne Cothran, Director of Education for Employment System of the Moraine Area Career System.

How were Certiport’s certifications implemented?

Illinois schools and career centers customized the delivery of the certifications based on their learners’ needs, leveraging Certiport’s "full pathway" resources. This means that schools not only have certifications for their students, but also curriculum and practice tests to make sure all learners are prepared for testing. Each district, school, and educator can decide which resources work best for them and their learners.

Community High School District 218 decided on a pilot program, where educators first tested the curriculum and certifications before offering them to their students. Each teacher then offered the certification to three students. “All nine students in the pilot program got certified,” said Frank Lamantia, Curriculum Director for CTE in Community High School District 218. “Seeing that 100% pass rate in the pilot was all the evidence we needed to move forward.”

Illinois educators and district representatives like Frank selected learning products and practice tests to prepare students for their actual certifications. “Certiport provides various resources, like CertPREP and other online teaching resources, that are so helpful for students. We want to make sure they understand what to expect on the certification exams,” said Mohammed Ikramullah, IT teacher at Mather High School.

What was the impact?

Integrating certification in Illinois schools has significantly impacted learners and communities. “Certifications allow my students to leave with something tangible that they can take into the workforce,” commented Robert Lee, a teacher in Chicago Public Schools. Learners across Illinois also shared the impact their certifications have had on their education and job opportunities.

  • “I’ve earned my Adobe Certified Professional Visual Design using Photoshop certification. With this one certification, countless doors are open for me. I already have some opportunities and internships.” — Angel Garcia, student at AKAM in Chicago
  • “My certification has helped me in the classroom and using technology outside of the classroom. Before I took these classes, I was navigating and figuring things out in the applications as I went. Now I know what I'm doing and I know how I do it.” — Carter Rohe, student at Richards High School
  • “I’m working at Moraine Valley Community College right now and already using a lot of the skills from my Microsoft Office Specialist certifications. I use Microsoft Excel for scheduling and Microsoft Word for informational pamphlets for the students.” — Courtney Rodgers, Moraine Valley Community College student

Illinois schools are shaping futures and preparing students with industry-recognized skills for success — using certifications to open doors and unlock possibilities that were previously unattainable.

For more information about Illinois’ success with certification, check out their story here. Interested in partnering with Certiport? Connect with us here.