During the past six months, a number of states have passed personal finance course mandates for students in middle school (e.g., New Jersey) and/or as a high school graduation requirement. Other states are considering similar legislation and/or establishing or upgrading their personal finance curriculum content standards.
The thinking behind many of these laws is that teaching financial “rules of the road” now can prevent costly problems later. Case in point: almost two-thirds (63%) of American adults could not answer more than 3 of 5 questions correctly on the FINRA National Financial Capability Studyknowledge assessment.
There is, perhaps, no better time to be involved with financial education than right now. Stars have been aligning recently with respect to states approving course mandates, new professional development opportunities for teachers, and increased availability of interactive learning activities that engage students and foster retention.
In addition, several national financial education advocacy efforts with BHAGS (big, hairy, audacious goals) are now underway. This can only bode well for future expansion of financial education mandates, strong curriculum content standards, and student outreach nationwide.
Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) set a BHAG called Mission 2030: “100% of U.S. high schoolers will have guaranteed access to at least one semester of personal finance instruction before graduation.” Over the past five years, this California-based non-profit has been providing high quality materials and professional development for personal finance teachers.
The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy advocacy effort, Project Groundswell, has a goal to increase classroom-based financial education and teacher training in personal finance by 25% by the end of 2025. The basic premise of Project Groundswell is to harness the power of Jump$tart partners, parents, and other advocates to “make the case” for financial education. An aligned web site, “Check Your School,” allows users to check if their local school has personal finance courses and to add a school if courses exist but are not listed.