Financial Literacy in Schools

By Janelle Callahan — April 27, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In recognition of Congress’ designation of April as Financial Literacy Month, this week’s Stat of the Week focuses on the state of financial education in American schools. Policymakers and experts stressing the need for increased financial literacy often cite gloomy statistics like the personal savings rate for Americans, which was -1 percent for 2006—the lowest it has been since the Depression. Additional evidence suggests that high school students do not know much about personal finance.

The Jump$tart Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the personal financial literacy of students, conducts a biannual survey of 12th grade students’ financial knowledge. Topics assessed include credit cards, insurance, retirement funds, and savings accounts. Nearly 6,000 students from 37 states participated in the 2005-2006 survey. The average student scored 52.4 percent. Since the first survey in 1997, scores have remained in the 50-60 percent range.

Trends in Personal Finance Education

The chart below shows trends in personal finance education. Almost half of the states require financial literacy standards to be implemented, but fewer states require students to take courses or tests.

Stat of the Week

Source: National Council on Economic Education (NCEE), 2005

States have been increasingly active in their efforts to promote financial literacy among students. The National Council on Economic Education (NCEE), which was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Education to advance financial literacy among all students, found that an increasing number of states have standards that include personal finance, as well as course and test requirements.

On the surface, education seems like a good way to try to improve the financial habits of Americans, but the relationship between knowledge and behavior is extremely complex—especially when it comes to money. In a recent report, “Financial Literacy Strategies: Where Do We Go From Here?” Robert I. Lerman and Elizabeth Bell note that while Americans might be getting more basic financial information these days, educational programs may not be giving participants the skills to apply the information to their individual circumstances in order to make good financial decisions. Some in the educational gaming industry wonder if video games could help students learn more about making good financial decisions. Education Week reported that South Korea may be distributing a financial literacy video game called Goonzu this year for students in grades K-5.

Commenting has been disabled on effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP