The state of financial literacy in US schools

by. Laura Edmonston

They say that for every dark cloud there is a silver lining.  This could definitely be used to describe the current state of financial literacy in the U.S.  Headlines concerning financial literacy over the past several years have been pretty grim – failing grades, declining savings and mounting debt.  The good news is that states and school districts are starting to respond.

In 2011, the Council for Economic Education’s Survey of the States reported that only 13 states required personal finance to graduate and only 14 states required at least one personal finance class to be taught.  And while 46 states included personal finance in their K-12 standards, only five required student testing.

In 2014, there has been some improvement.  The CEE’s Survey of the States shows the number of states that require personal finance to graduate has jumped to 17, and 19 states now require that a personal finance course be taught.  The number of states requiring student testing has also increased to six.  And the news continues to improve – the Kansas House of Representatives passed legislation in March to require personal finance in schools and an Oklahoma requirement passed in 2007 will be implemented beginning in May.  March also saw the first meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

Students know the benefits of being money-savvy, especially as they prepare to set out on their own after graduation. Speaking about a business class he took his sophomore year, high school student Reichard told USA Today, “Everything in here is real-life applicable.  At first I was like, man, another requirement. But in the end, it was definitely worth it.”

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