Financial education: Does your state make the grade?

  @Money July 11, 2013: 4:34 PM ET
financial-literacy-map

A passing grade? The effort that states put into teaching high school students about personal finance.

NEW YORK (Money Magazine)

The Center for Financial Literacy at Champlain College has graded all 50 states on their efforts to teach the ABCs of financial literacy to high school students.

The assessments are based primarily on published reports covering state-by-state measures, along with reviews of state legislation going back more than a decade. (For an expanded version of this report card, visit the financial literacy center's website.)

Should you find your state's grade disappointing, the center's director, John Pelletier, suggests you start by raising the issue with your local high school principal or school board. On the state level, he says, you should contact your local state representative or senator.

To help make your case, Pelletier recommends the resources available at jumpstart.org. "Given that our nation has suffered greatly in recent years from financial illiteracy," he says, "elected officials should listen closely."

State Ranking: Alabama - Hawaii

Alabama: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state's educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2010, Alabama passed a law urging the department of education to incorporate personal finance into the curriculum for high schools seniors.

Alaska: F

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state's educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.

Arizona: B

  • Requires personal-finance instruction be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state's K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires an economics course that includes personal-finance concepts beginning with the class of 2012.

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Arkansas: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state's educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2002, Arkansas passed a law that provides assistance to school districts that want to offer personal finance in high schools.

California: F

  • Does not include personal-finance topics in the state's educational standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2004 the state legislature declared April financial literacy month. Six financial-literacy bills were vetoed by the governor from 2006 through 2010. In 2011 a fund was established that would accept private donations that could be used to promote financial literacy in California.

Colorado: B

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state's K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.
  • Colorado requires financial literacy topics to be included in the model content standards for mathematics. Requires certain personal-finance topics be tested as part of a math assessment tests given to all students.

  • In 2005, Colorado also required the department of education to create and maintain a resource bank of material pertaining to financial literacy and to provide technical assistance to schools in the design of a financial-literacy curriculum. All schools were strongly encouraged to make the completion of a financial-literacy course a graduation requirement.

Connecticut: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state's educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • Since 2007, Connecticut legislators have introduced seven bills in an attempt to bring financial literacy into their schools. All attempts have failed. In 2009 the state passed a law allowing banks to open branches in schools to help students learn about saving money.

Delaware: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state's educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • In 2008 the Delaware legislature passed a resolution making April financial literacy month. In 14 years only one bill was introduced to require personal-finance education in the school system.

Florida: D

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state's K-12 instructional guidelines and requires local school districts to implement these standards.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • A financial-literacy council has been created to make recommendations on how to increase the personal-finance knowledge of the state's citizens.

Georgia: A

  • Includes personal-finance topics in the state's K-12 instructional guidelines, requires local school districts to implement these standards, requires financial-literacy instruction as a high school graduation requirement, and requires that students be given assessment tests on financial-literacy topics.
  • Requires personal-finance instruction to be incorporated into other subject matter.

Related: 5 champions of financial education

  • Personal-finance education is provided within the "Let's Make It Personal" social studies economics content standards and is required as a high school graduation requirement.

Hawaii: F

  • Personal-finance topics are included in the state's educational guidelines, but the state does not require that local school districts teach these topics.
  • No personal-finance requirement, although personal finance may be taught at certain schools as an elective.
  • The legislature in Hawaii created a Financial Literacy Education and Asset Building Task Force that made a variety of recommendations in 2010.

Continued: State Ranking: Idaho - Louisiana

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