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State Leaders Should Provide Professional Development for Our Teachers

By: Derek D’Angelo, President, Michigan Council on Economic Education

Why do you wear your seat belt while in a motor vehicle? I don’t wear my seat belt because of a government requirement, I wear it because my mother was in a horrible accident. It was a cold February morning in 1993 and my mother was on the way to work when her mini-van caught a patch of ice. The vehicle began to slide uncontrollably and she was t-boned on the passenger side by a truck. She was wearing her seat belt, spent a week in the hospital, and eventually made a full recovery.

Michigan was the first state to enact a seat belt law in July of 1985. Initially the legislation was met with much resistance from legislators and a populace whose seat belt usage was less than 20%. In the year of my mother’s accident the seat belt usage rate in Michigan had climbed to 64.4%. Merely establishing a requirement was only a first step toward moving the seat belt usage rate to the 93.3% it sits at today. Just as important was the research that showed people how many lives were saved, the graphic pictures of those who were not, enforcement efforts, and technological improvements to vehicles that followed enactment of the legislation.

Now that 20 state legislatures have jumped the hurdle to require high school students take a course in economics and lawmakers in 17 states require high school students take a course in personal finance, the work has just begun. Seldom do we put enough focus on the importance of the steps following legislative action. Establishing a state requirement is only the first step in the process of building a citizenry equipped to make financially sound decisions. Teachers must be supported through an investment in high-quality professional development. The delivery of this professional development must be strategically designed to target the needs of the teacher within the subject they teach. The model of large auditorium sit-and-get district required professional development should be abandoned for a more differentiated approach that encourages a growth mindset in teachers.

It’s time for a new conversation about teacher improvement. Teachers should receive ongoing professional development, tailored to their unique needs as lead learners in their classrooms. State Councils and Centers for Economic Education are uniquely positioned to provide high-quality, low cost professional development to those teaching economics and financial literacy. Across the nation, State Councils and Centers for Economic Education are equipped to provide the curriculum tools, the pedagogical support, and the community of peers needed for teachers to successfully implement and create the change sought by establishing state standards in economics and financial literacy.

We know that states with economic and financial literacy requirements are more likely to save, more likely to pay off credit cards in full each month, and less likely to be compulsive buyers. In 1985, the establishment of a state requirement in Michigan jumped seat belt usage to 60%, before falling back to 45% shortly thereafter. It is not enough to merely establish a state standard and believe all the problems will go away. The establishment of state standards in economics and financial literacy must be followed by a proper investment in the educators who will be delivering the messages to our children. It seems a much better and more cost-effective option than just hoping children learn from the accidents they witness.

POSTED: February 8, 2016 | BY: April Somboun

State Requirements Matter

 – J. Michael Collins, Ph.D., Center for Financial Security, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Schools play a significant role in the lives of young people as they develop into independ­ent, capable members of communities. Starting at young ages, schools teach kids to be safe, to be healthy, to be civic-minded, and, at least in some states, to be responsible for their personal financ­es. But there is wide variation across states in terms of what sorts of eco­nomic and personal finance education is offered to students. Some states offer little guidance to school districts relat­ed to what personal finance content to offer in schools at each grade level; others have pushed ahead, requiring courses from elementary to high school-aged students, supporting and training teachers, and in some cases even testing students on learning outcomes.

The variation in approaches allows us to study how different strategies work. In states where personal finance is part of a formal course, teachers are trained on the content, and students are tested, students develop better credit behaviors early in adulthood. Students who gradu­ate after more rigorous standards are put into place are more likely to make on-time payments and keep up with their bills—they still use debt and credit, but seem to understand how to manage those obligations better than students who did not graduate under higher standards for personal finance and eco­nomics. The figure below shows the difference in credit scores for students who graduated before financial educa­tion mandates were imposed, relative to comparable states and controlling for local trends. Student credit scores are 8 to 17 points higher by age 22 in three key states that made a change in financial education policies in 2007.

States that combine personal finance and economics, support teach­ers, and hold students accountable for learning objectives have the best chance of promoting the develop­ment of young people who are bet­ter financial managers and stewards of their credit—behaviors with which many, if not most, young people tend to struggle. Rigorous state standards can facilitate local schools to implement well-designed programs, which in turn expose students to con­cepts they otherwise would not learn. Communities may also benefit from having more financially competent households; perhaps stronger econom­ics and personal finance standards could even be viewed ultimately as an eco­nomic development strategy, developing young people with an increased ability to manage credit and invest in their future.

Policymakers seem to understand, at least in some areas, that state support for economics and personal finance mat­ter. There is still much to learn about the optimal blend of topics, testing and grade levels, but support for economics and financial education, from grade school to high school, is valuable for students and communities.

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Visit our website, http://SurveyoftheStates.com for an interactive experience and download the study. And, find out where you state stands in economics and personal finance education and how you can take action today.

POSTED: February 5, 2016 | BY: Daniel Thompson

IN A STUDENT’S WORDS: Virginia’s Course “Gets an A in My Book” – Nicolas Jirinec, Chesterfield, VA

….AS A 2015 GRADUATING SENIOR WHO WAS REQUIRED to take [Virginia’s full-credit economics and personal finance course], I can attest firsthand to its practicality and necessity in today’s society. In fact, this class is very beneficial in teaching students about financing their future lives.

The class taught us about the stock market, how it works and how to buy and sell stocks. It taught us how companies work, and even how to balance a personal checkbook. We learned about supply and demand, the Invisible Hand, the broken window fallacy and how companies finance capital. This was by far the most practical class ever offered at the high school level in my opinion; and should have been required a long time ago.

We also engaged in a simulated stock market game, researched business financial reports and learned about productivity and human capital. I visited the Federal Reserve in Richmond as part of the class assignment on the circular flow of money.

This class has helped me create a useful résumé, get my first job at Chuy’s Mexican Restaurant and acquire the necessary skills required to understand how to file my first set of tax returns. This class was practical, taught fundamentals that can be used every day and helped prepare students for the real world that lies ahead after high school. This course gets an A in my book.

Visit our website, http://SurveyoftheStates.com for an interactive experience and download the study. And, find out where you state stands in economics and personal finance education and how you can take action today.

Source: “Finance class taught real-world skills.” Letter to the Editor. Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 27, 2015. Reprinted with permission from the author and publication.

POSTED: February 4, 2016 | BY: Daniel Thompson

Putting Financial Education on the Map in Rhode Island – Seth Magaziner, Rhode Island State Treasurer

AS RHODE ISLAND’S STATE TREASURER, I am reminded every day of the critical importance of equipping our students with financial literacy skills so that they are able to make smart financial decisions throughout their lives. I am proud to be a part of recent efforts in Rhode Island to do just that.

The Survey of the States played an important role in propelling change in Rhode Island. The 2014 Survey showed that our state had no standards, course requirements, or statewide testing in personal finance. A group of concerned high school students in Rhode Island recognized that they are making life-altering financial decisions on education, housing, and transportation immediately after, and often even before, their high school graduation. They took it upon themselves to do something to improve the state’s educational system. In November 2014, they successfully advocated for the adoption of CEE’s National Standards for Financial Literacy as Rhode Island’s first-ever statewide standards. As a result, Rhode Island is now “on the map” when looking at the status of personal finance education across the nation.

Yet there is still more work to be done. Here in Rhode Island, we continue to build on the financial literacy initiative that began with those few motivated Rhode Island teenagers. A coalition of interested policymakers, educators, and industry leaders has been working together to build the financial capability of our youth so that the next generation will be better able to make informed decisions that positively impact their financial future, as well as our society as a whole. Thanks to organizations like the Rhode Island Council for Economic Education, we’re working to provide resources and professional development to teachers, and continuing to build awareness of the need for financial education throughout the state, region, and country.

Visit our website, http://SurveyoftheStates.com for an interactive experience and download the study. And, find out where you state stands in economics and personal finance education and how you can take action today.

POSTED: February 2, 2016 | BY: Daniel Thompson

American Students Lack Financial Knowledge and Skills

In 2012, nearly 30,000 teenagers from 18 countries took part in the first large-scale international assessment of young people’s financial literacy. More than one in six students in the United States failed to reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy. Overall, American students fall in the middle of the pack globally.

mean financial literacy scores American Students Lack Financial Knowledge and Skills

Visit our website, http://SurveyoftheStates.com for an interactive experience and download the study. And, find out where you state stands in economics and personal finance education and how you can take action today.

POSTED: February 1, 2016 | BY: Daniel Thompson

Note from Nan J. Morrison, President & CEO | Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools

SOS Cover7 300x262 Note from Nan J. Morrison, President & CEO | Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s SchoolsEvery two years, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) comprehensively reviews the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States, collecting data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There has been notable progress since the first survey was published in 1998; yet the pace of change has slowed. The 2016 Survey of the States shows that there has been no improvement in economic education in recent years and slow growth in personal finance education.The biennial Survey of the States serves as an important benchmark for our progress, revealing both how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.

Research shows that requirements are the main driver of economics and personal finance being taught in schools. CEE works with our nationwide network of affiliates to both advocate for requirements and assist in their implementation. To support local and state advocacy initiatives, we have developed voluntary standards in economics and personal finance; nationally-normed, curriculum-agnostic assessments in economics and personal finance; and an online advocacy toolkit.

Visit our website for an interactive experience and download the study. And, find out where you state stands in economics and personal finance education and how you can take action today.

POSTED: January 29, 2016 | BY: Daniel Thompson

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