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Curriculum Update

Financial literacy education lags in U.S. high schools

All 50 states grade on A-to-F scale
Utah has mandated a high school financial literacy course for more than a decade. (Click to enlarge)
Utah has mandated a high school financial literacy course for more than a decade. (Click to enlarge)

Half of U.S. states fail to provide adequate financial literacy education in high schools, according to a report released by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy, a partnership among several financial institutions, non-profits and governmental agencies in Vermont.

The 2015 National Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy used an A through F scale to grade all 50 state’s and the District of Columbia’s efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates.

States that scored an A require a one-semester or half-year personal finance course for graduation while an F indicates no standards. B, C and D states have varying levels of requirements.

Twenty-six states received a C, D or F, while Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia earned an A. Utah was the only state to get an A+.

Utah has mandated a high school financial literacy course for more than a decade. But Utah’s standards set its course apart. The curriculum covers financial goal-setting, savings, investing and retirement planning. Utah got extra edit for creating a website—www.financeintheclassroom.org—where educators can share curriculum resources, the report says.

The Utah legislature in 2014 allocated $450,000 to create additional high school financial literacy requirements. The new law requires an online, end-of-course assessment in general financial literacy. It also funds professional development for teachers.

As a result of this law, “Utah is clearly the leader in high school personal finance education in the nation,” the report says.