All U.S. State Mandates for Financial Literacy Education are Failing Our Kids. Here’s How

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) has issued a report evaluating state mandates for financial literacy education across the U.S. The report indicates that all states fail to offer financial education that meets even the basic standards required for all other subjects. All other topics are held to high standards for curriculum quality, rigor, time allotment, educator training, funding, and program support – but not financial literacy.

What’s more, this failure is happening at a time when Americans need financial wellness education more than ever before. Only 57% of U.S. residents are financially literate and the nation is falling into an ocean of debt and financial dependency, according to the American Public Education Foundation. And the crisis is only growing worse.

While standards for K-12 education have been reformed, no state applies those same standards for rigor, instruction time, or teacher preparation to its financial literacy requirements. Not a single state prioritizes financial education as a core subject area. We continue to focus on teaching traditional topics like Social Studies, Language Arts, and STEM – topics from which only a small proportion of high school students will benefit. Financial literacy education has potential benefits for 100% of students and comprehensive standards for financial education have yet to be instituted.

The NFEC takes the position that financial education should comply with the same high standards and educational best practices as other subjects in the high school curriculum. To achieve that goal, the following criteria could apply to the best financial literacy instruction:

  • Teach students skills for earning income and managing the money they earn.
  • Employs rigorous teaching methods that encourage students toward higher-order thinking skills and maximize learning retention.
  • Taught by well-qualified, well-prepared teachers.
  • Uses curriculum resources of the highest quality and rigor.
  • Scaffolded appropriately for the student’s cognitive levels.
  • Involves parents in their children’s personal finance education.
  • Includes measures to assess learners’ gains in content knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge to real-world decisions.

For a guideline, policymakers can turn to the NFEC’s Policy & Framework Standards for High School Financial Literacy Education. These standards provide benchmarks to empower legislators, schools, and stakeholders with best practices for optimizing financial education initiatives. Two core objectives of NFEC’s policy standards:

  1. elevate financial education mandates to meet standards of other core subjects;
  2. every student should graduate prepared for near-term financial decisions.

“When we fail to hold financial education to high standards, it’s our kids who suffer,” comments Vince Shorb, the NFEC’s CEO. “State financial literacy mandates don’t require financial literacy instruction to meet even the basic educational standards applied to other subjects. Yet all high school graduates will use money management skills every day of their lives, and lack of financial literacy has a serious impact on their success and security. Holding personal finance teachers, curriculum, and testing to the same standards as other high school subjects is common sense.”

The NFEC released the report and Standards Framework to encourage state education departments, school districts, policymakers, and advocates to join forces in asking that financial education meet rigorous educational standards. Public high schools have taught similar topics for over a century and have failed to adapt to the advancing technology and training needs of modern-day careers. The NFEC calls for lifting personal finance education to meet the needs of students.

The NFEC is a top provider of financial education resources that empower organizations and individuals with the practical skills and knowledge to make qualified financial decisions. The NFEC is committed to promoting financial literacy in every U.S. state. The NFEC also is a Certified B Corporation and Accredited Provider through IACET.

Media Contact:
Claudia Martins

SOURCE National Financial Educators Council