Social Studies

More States Set Financial Literacy Standards, Fewer Require Economics

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — January 28, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Fewer states are requiring students to study economics, according to a new survey from the Council for Economic Education.

The Council has conducted a biennial survey of states’ economics and financial literacy offerings since 1998.

The survey found that Louisiana and Wyoming both dropped a requirement that students take economics in order to graduate between 2014 and 2016.

The news is sunnier for financial literacy: Between 2014 and 2016, Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Rhode Island added financial literacy in their academic standards, while Wyoming and Montana dropped the subject. The number of states requiring a financial literacy course didn’t change in the past two years.

Overall, there was less change in state offerings between 2014 and 2016, after years in which more states were adding both economic and financial literacy requirements.

“The big picture is that we’re still not seeing any progress in economic education. In recent years there has been very little real movement,” said Nan J. Morrison, the Council for Economic Education’s president and CEO. “If we want to close the opportunity gap, it’s essential that we teach economics, as well as personal finance, in schools, and equip our teachers with the tools they need to help students develop these essential, real-world skills.”

Twenty states now make economics a graduation requirement, down from 22 in 2014. The number of states requiring personal finances courses has held steady at 17; just five states require that financial literacy be a stand-alone class.

The authors of the survey write that, unsurprisingly, requiring such courses makes them more likely to be taught.

More states include both economics and financial literacy in their standards than require courses: Every state’s standards include economics, and 45 include financial literacy. That’s an increase in the past decade for both subjects.

Interestingly, the number of states requiring standardized testing in economics has been generally declining since 2002.

The survey also includes pieces from educators and students in Virginia and Rhode Island about the impact of both economics and financial literacy courses.

Late last year, Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy issued a report card on states’ financial literacy offerings. The Center assigned its top score to just five states—those that require financial literacy courses. That report card drew from the Center for Economic Education’s previous survey. The CEE does not assign grades in its survey.

Infographic source: Council for Economic Education


A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.