Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, using national data, has graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) on their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates. What the grading shows is that we have a long way to go before we are a financially literate nation.
In this 2015 report card, we attempt to measure how well our high schools are providing personal finance education. Although there have been improvements made over the past few years, more can be done. When it comes to report cards, everyone wants an A. But when the Center graded 50 states and D.C. on their financial literacy education, only five states earned an A.
Sadly, 26 states received grades of C, D or F. Less than half were given grades that you would want your children to bring home from school—grades A or B, and 29% had grades of D or F.
- Grade: D
- Is a high school course with personal finance concepts required to be taken as a graduation requirement? No, taking a course with personal finance concepts is not a graduation requirement. Local districts may offer a personal finance course either on a stand-alone basis or embedded into another course offering. High school graduation requirements are determined by the local school districts. See: Vermont School Quality and Education Quality Standards Concepts (page 2).
- Education Standards: In 2014, Vermont adopted Vermont Education Quality Standards (EQS) that require local school districts to deliver curriculum aligned to Vermont Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements (PBGRs) approved by the State Board of Education. Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in global citizenship (including the concepts of civics, economics, geography, world language, cultural studies and history). Although global citizenship includes economics, it does not include financial literacy. In addition to the EQS and PBGRs, educational standards have been approved by the state board of education that include some financial literacy topics, see: Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities (Framework).
- Caveat: It is not clear how Vermont measures student achievement in financial literacy or how the state monitors local school district implementation of the financial literacy education requirement. The financial literacy topics identified in the Framework are classified as “vital results.” Vital results standards are the responsibility of teachers in all fields of knowledge. Thus, personal finance topics lack a subject matter home in the framework. The financial literacy concepts are fairly sparse and briefly cover the topics of personal economics and career choices.
- Extra Credit: The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College created a Financial Literacy Task force of governmental, business and non-profit leaders that made recommendations for policymakers with regard to increasing Vermonter’s financial literacy, see Vermont’s Financial Literacy Action Plan. In 2015, a law was passed creating a financial literacy commission to make policy recommendations to the governor and legislature. See: Vermont Financial Literacy Commission Law (page 16). The Office of the State Treasurer has created a website that provides financial literacy resources. See: Treasurer Financial Literacy Resources. The Treasurer also administers a Financial Literacy Trust Fund.