APT program wins state Star award

The Austin Community College Accelerated Programmer Training (APT) Program was recognized as one of the top performing college programs in Texas; winning the prestigious 2017 Star Award by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

It’s a student-centric learning model

Recipients of the Star Award demonstrate successful outcomes in areas of:

  • Educational attainment of the state’s 25- 34-year-old population; student completion of a certificate or degree; student attainment of marketable skills; or cost efficiencies that limit or reduce student debt;
  • Excellence through the use of benchmarks and other comparison data that allow progress to be monitored and evaluated;
  • Efficient cost/benefit ratio per student.

“It is an honor to be recognized,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president/CEO. “I’m proud of our faculty. They’re developing new, more effective ways of learning and our students are achieving higher rates of success while saving time and money.”

The APT program is designed to speed entry into tech careers, including computer programming, software testing, computer support, and database administration. Courses are taught online in a competency-based format, allowing students the flexibility to study and accelerate their course completion and earn credits for prior knowledge.

“It’s a student-centric learning model,” says Dr. Charles Cook, ACC provost. “Through competency-based education, we can focus on what students are learning rather than on the time they spend in the classroom to earn credits.”

APT students benefit from a variety of support services:

  • Industry Partners: guide curriculum and provide mock job interviews, mentoring, and internships.
  • Student Support Specialists: provide personalized guidance and tutoring when needed.
  • Support Staff: provide resume writing workshops and virtual job fairs.

The program has been particularly beneficial to military veterans as well as unemployed and underemployed adults who have previous technical knowledge or interest.

“It was a great first step in gaining IT knowledge while I worked full time,” says Anna Vysotskaya, APT graduate. “I worked hard, maintained my GPA at 4.0, and was able to receive scholarships that helped me complete two certificates – database programming and administration and programming-software testing.”

During its first three years, the program enrolled more than 800 students. The number of computer science certificates and degrees awarded by the college during that time increased 140 percent, from 75 in 2012-13 to 175 in 2015-16. Nearly 700 marketable skills awards (MSAs) were completed during the first two years.  The MSA is a stackable certificate that leads to other certificates and an associate degree.

The Coordinating Board received 44 nominations and 41 applications for this year’s Star Award program. Other winners include Odessa College, the University of Houston, and the University of Houston-Downtown.

For more information about APT, visit the program site or contact the Computer Studies Department at 512-223-3185.

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