Two Minute Tips

Covering personal finance in the classroom

April 8, 2020

Share this article:

One in five 15-year-olds in the U.S. don’t understand basic financial concepts, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Photos of coins spilling out of a jar by Michael Longmire via Unsplash.

April is Financial Literacy Month, but personal finance education is a timely topic year-round (for instance, back to school, college admissions season, graduation season). The Council for Economic Education reports that 21 states now require high school students to take a class in personal finance to graduate (Florida recently dropped the requirement). 

Despite this, the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 20 percent of U.S. 15 year-olds don’t understand basic money concepts. Since many of these students will be taking out student loans for college in just a few short years, not understanding the power of compound interest or the implications of a loan default could haunt them well into their adult lives.  

Here’s a look at questions to consider as you’re covering personal finance education. 

What’s being taught locally?

Does your state require grads to pass a personal finance class or take a test? If not, is personal finance or economics offered as an elective?

Are elementary or middle schools also including this information in their curriculum? Why or why not?

Do parents and students feel that these approaches are effective? Have any other local teachers been recognized in this arena?

What does the personal finance curriculum consist of?

What do these courses cover and how long do they last?

Where does the curriculum come from?

Are schools and teachers partnering with outside organizations such as nonprofits or credit unions?

Are any field trips or guest speakers involved? The New York Times ran an interesting feature several years ago about high schoolers going on a field trip to a local pawn shop

Who is doing the teaching?

In addition to talking to local teachers, principals, and curriculum people, you might also talk to outside organizations that develop financial literacy materials for schools or bring volunteers into classrooms to get their perspective. For instance, the National Endowment for Financial EducationNext Gen Personal FinanceJunior Achievement, and Jump$tart.

More Like This...

Critical Race Theory: What happens to the books?

Critical race theory is not a new concept, yet its appearance in primary and secondary-school curricula has sparked uproar across the country, including calls to ban a variety of books

Two Minute Tips

Sign up now.
Get one Tuesday.

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism.

Subscribers also get access to the Tip archive.

Get Two Minute Tips For Business Journalism Delivered To Your Email Every Tuesday

Two Minute Tips

Every Tuesday we send out a quick-read email with tips for business journalism. Sign up now and get one Tuesday.

Our New Look
The Reynolds Center for Business Journalism is starting 2023 with a new look that we hope better illustrates our core mission to provide accurate and authoritative resources about business journalism, in order to help both reporters and news consumers understand the importance of business news and to demystify the sometimes arcane topics it covers.
Businesses, markets, and economies move in cycles – ups and downs – which is why our new logo contains a “candlestick” chart representing increases as well as downturns, and serves as a reminder that volatility is an unavoidable attribute of modern life. But it’s also possible to prepare for volatility by being well informed, and informing the general public to help level the information playing field is the primary goal of business journalism. The Reynolds Center is committed to supporting that goal, which is why the candlestick pattern in our logo merges directly into the name of our founding sponsor, Donald W. Reynolds.
Our new logo comes with a shorter name. Business is borderless, and understanding the global links in supply chains, trade, and flows of funds and people is essential to make sense of our fast-paced, globalized world. So we’re dropping the word “National” from our name and will aim to provide content that is applicable to business news globally.
We hope you like the new look. Best wishes for 2023!