“When it’s mandatory, everyone has access,” said Rebecca Maxcy, director of the Financial Education Initiative at the University of Chicago.
While progress between the states is encouraging, there’s still more to be done, said Nan J. Morrison, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education. Currently, only nine of 23 states require personal finance to be taken as a standalone course. Others allow the subject to be combined with other courses, such as math or social studies, or offer other ways for students to opt out of the course, which can dilute its impact.
Along with the new report, the council announced the creation, with Visa, of a coalition of businesses and non-profit groups, called EndEd50to help promote “guaranteed access” to personal finance courses in all states.
Here are some questions and answers about financial literacy education:
Don’t students learn about personal finance as part of economics classes?
Occasionally. But the growth of state demands for teaching economics has stalled. Two years ago, 25 states required a high school economics course, and that number hasn’t budged, according to the report from the Council for Economic Education. And two states have recently considered removing requirements to study economics.
“We’re actually a bit worried about that,” Ms Morrison said.
She said the board would take a closer look at why efforts to expand economics education had stalled. Students need to understand both economics and personal finance, she said, ‘to successfully navigate their lives’ as individuals and as members of increasingly complex societies. .
Is teaching financial literacy in high school effective?
There has been debate about what works, with some studies suggesting that financial education has limited effect about behavior, or that students might be better off simply learning more math. But newer research suggests that high school personal finance courses can help young people make better financial decisions.
A study published in 2020 conducted by a Montana State University researcher found that financial education requirements were linked to fewer loan defaults and higher credit scores among young adults. And one study 2019 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that money orders “significantly reduced” the likelihood of borrowing high-interest payday loans. As with any subject, Professor Lusardi said, effective teaching requires a high-quality curriculum and well-trained teachers.