Survey of the States Report Reveals Pressing Need for Economic and Financial Literacy in U.S. School Systems

POSTED: December 1, 2009 | BY: kwilliams | TAGS: ,

NEW YORK, December 1, 2009 – The economic turmoil of the past year delivered a heavy dose of reality for millions of American consumers as jobs were lost, retirement account balances shrank, and families faced foreclosure. While people today are coping with the economic meltdown, our schools can take the lead in providing financial and economic education to our children today so they may avoid a similar fate tomorrow.

While many states have addressed this gap in education curriculum, there is still a large segment of the American K-12 student population that is not being exposed to economic and financial education. Until these subjects are considered mandatory alongside mathematics, English, history, and science, we will be potentially setting them up for failure in the future.

To gauge how widespread economic and financial education is in our schools, the Council for Economic Education (CEE), in partnership with State Farm Insurance, recently completed their sixth Survey of the States 2009: Economic, Personal Finance, and Entrepreneurship Education in Our Nation’s Schools. This bi-annual report analyzes each state’s efforts to incorporate economic, personal finance, and entrepreneurship education programs into the K-12 curriculum. The Survey of the States 2009 report shows that while some states are taking a lead on educating students, many others are failing to provide the educational support on these ever-important issues.

“The Survey of the States is a vital tool that can be used to gauge progress in providing the kind of real-world skills we want our students to have when they graduate” states Joseph A. Peri, Acting President and CEO of the CEE. “Some states are making the grade, some show improvement, and others need more vocal and visible advocacy efforts to make economic and financial education a priority.”

With regard to economic education, the survey shows that 21 states now require students to take an economics course as a high school graduation requirement (up from 17 in 2007). These 21 states make up nearly 65% of the entire U.S. population. However, only 19 states require the testing of student knowledge in Economics, which is four fewer than in 2007 (23). “While more states are now requiring the economic and financial concepts be taught, it is troubling to see that fewer states are testing the proficiency students have in economics. Testing is critical to ensuring that students actually retain and can apply what they’ve learned,” said Peri.

Personal finance does not have the same reach in American schools, but it is growing. 13 states now require students to take a personal finance course (or personal finance included in an economics course) as a high school graduation requirement (up from seven in 2007). But these 13 states make up only 31% of the entire U.S. population, which means almost 70% of American K-12 students are not receiving the needed education in this important area.

“No doubt, progress is certainly being made, but the issue now is the pace of change. Our young people need economic and financial education now – yet state standards and requirements sometimes are revisited, at best, every few years,” continued Peri. “This is our opportunity to make economic and financial literacy a priority in education – if we haven’t learned our lessons over the past 18 months how vital it is, it’s possible we never will.”

Key members of Congress also hail the release of the Survey as an important resource that will foster more focused advocacy efforts. U.S. Representative Judy Biggert of Illinois, Co-Founder and Co-Chair (along with U.S. Representative Rubén Hinojosa of Texas) of the House Financial and Economic Literacy Caucus states, “In today’s increasingly complex financial marketplace, it’s critically important that students enter the workforce with the knowledge and tools they need to make sound economic decisions, manage risk, and avoid financial pitfalls. By encouraging financial literacy efforts in each state and in each classroom, we can set today’s youth on the path to a more prosperous future, promote entrepreneurship, and improve America’s competitive footing in the global economy.”

A copy of the most recent Survey of the States report is now available to the public by visiting the Survey of the States page.

About the Council for Economic Education (CEE)

The Council for Economic Education (CEE) is a not-for-profit organization that that promotes comprehensive economic and personal financial literacy programs in grades K-12 nationwide. Each year, the Council’s programs reach more than 150,000 K-12 teachers and over 15 million students in the United States and in more than 30 other countries. These programs are delivered through a diversified system: directly from the Council, through a network of affiliated state Councils and university-based Centers for Economic Education, and through other partner organizations.

About State Farm Insurance

State Farm insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm’s 17,700 agents and 68,600 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 78.7 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.9 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 31 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies.

For more information, please visit®.

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