Financial Literacy Findings and Resources - Digital Promise
Financial Literacy Findings and Resources

Financial Literacy is a key component of improving the financial capability of students and the community

Currently, 45 states include personal finance in their K-12 education standards. Moreover, 38 states require implementation of the standards and 24 states require that high schools offer personal finance courses.1 Yet American students are behind the curve in financial literacy compared to their peers around the world. One in five American students fail to meet the level to be considered financially literate (compared to one in 10 Chinese or Russian students),2 and America as a whole is not even among the top 10 financially literate countries.3 At the same time, most teachers self-report limited competence to teach personal finance topics.4

The greatest area of growth in financial literacy competence is among teachers who do not primarily teach personal finance, but who face the challenge of integrating personal finance topics into other areas of instruction. By providing teachers access to tools powered by digital technologies for both getting up to speed in financial matters and gaining recognition for competency in personal finance instruction, educators’ motivation, confidence, and competence to teach personal finance will improve.

With support from PricewaterhouseCooopers, Digital Promise partnered with the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) at The George Washington University to develop 20 financial literacy micro­-credentials to help bridge the gap between students’ need for personal finance education and teachers’ need for professional resources on the topic. Each financial literacy micro-credential includes methodologies and resources to help teachers cover content that high school students can directly apply to their own lives.

Through this effort, we enabled educators across the country to strengthen their personal finance pedagogy and assess the available market of personal finance professional development resources.

For more information on the catalyst behind this project, see the President’s Advisory Council Final Report on Financial Capability for Young Americans and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Annual Report.

Key Findings / What We Learned

GFLEC conducted an assessment via surveys, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions to explore the strengths and limitations of the financial literacy micro-credentials and the micro-credentialing program. As part of the assessment, we considered the challenges associated with teaching and implementing personal finance within the broader financial education landscape. The assessment provides a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges facing personal finance teachers currently and the role that micro-credentialing, given its strengths and limitations, may play in helping promote financial education.

Findings Regarding Teaching Personal Finance

  • Most students had some interest in the personal finance topics taught in school, and even if the content is less exciting, the students understand the skills are important.
  • Lack of experience with a topic was the most-cited barrier for an educator teaching and implementing personal finance education. Personal experiences also add a layer of complexity to personal finance education—for example, having to teach students about debt management while struggling with debt oneself.
  • Teachers expressed a lack of unbiased materials and challenges finding financial literacy professional development courses.
  • More states are requiring students to be exposed to personal finance, but this also results in more educators feeling unqualified and untrained to tackle the subject.
  • Personal finance educators feel underrepresented and limited in their professional learning options.

How Micro-credentials can Address Project Findings

The Challenge
Micro-credentials Solution
Teachers expressed a lack of unbiased materials.
Materials within a micro-credential and the evidence required aligns with the outputs from demonstrating the competency.
Challenges finding financial literacy professional development courses.
The online availability of micro-credentials makes them convenient for educators to find and flexible for educators to pursue.
More states are requiring students to be exposed to personal finance, but this also results in more educators feeling unqualified and untrained to tackle the subject.
The format of micro-credentials provides educators of all content areas pedagogical support on what to teach and how to teach it.
Personal finance educators feel underrepresented and limited in their professional learning options.
The stacks of personal finance micro-credentials are focused on specific pedagogy and competencies embedded in personal finance subject areas and lessons.

Resources

Project Method and Findings

Sample Mircro-credentials

Activating Prior Knowledge about Insurance

The educator values students’ previous experiences and uses an anticipation guide to activate students’ prior knowledge about insurance at the beginning of the lesson.

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Budgeting with Simulations

The educator understands the benefits of active learning and chooses or creates a simulation to engage students in real-world financial decisions in order to communicate the importance of budgeting.

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Calculating Compound Interest: I Do, We Do, You Do

Educator incorporates the calculation of compound interest into their instruction using a gradual release model

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Applied Learning: Simple Saving Strategies

The educator utilizes an applied learning strategy that enables students to develop the habit of saving.

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