Information for State Policymakers Looking to Advance K-12 Financial Education


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This guest post comes from Meina Banh, senior policy and innovation analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Views expressed in guest posts are those of the author.

According to a 2018-2019 report from Next Gen Personal Finance, 16 percent of high school students are required to take a personal finance class. While 45 states include personal finance in their state education standards, only 19 states require students to take a personal finance course. To support youth financial education, the CFPB offers the following resources that may help state policymakers:

  • A review of youth financial education: One of the main findings of this report is that well-implemented state financial education mandates lead to a clear improvement in financial behaviors.
  • Building Blocks Measurement guide: This report offers research on key measures to assess young people’s progress toward achieving milestones of financial capability.
  • Program for International Student Assessment Financial Literacy Brief: Use this report to identify effective approaches to financial education and better define the metrics for success.

Integrating financial education throughout the K-12 experience is a promising opportunity to reach young people at pivotal points in their development and their financial lives. The CFPB supports the efforts of policymakers who promote K-12 financial education through A Guide for Advancing K-12 Financial Education. This guide introduces tools, information and insights to enhance K-12 financial education efforts. It tells you how to lay the groundwork, build the initiative and measure the impact. The CFPB’s work shows that while a strong foundation exists to support K-12 financial education, more coordination and sharing of resources among state policymakers and educators is necessary for further progress to be made.

To provide states with the opportunity to share ideas, brainstorm solutions to common problems and develop strategies for advancing K-12 financial education, the CFPB convened state learning clusters in August 2019. This first round included state representatives, financial education practitioners, staff from financial institutions and teachers from Iowa, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. Participants discussed the impact of K-12 financial education and effective strategies for measuring outcomes in their respective states, and shared best practices and lessons learned and reflected on what they heard from the other states. The group also discussed challenges and opportunities.

The learning clusters provided participants with an opportunity to learn from each other and ask in-depth questions around implementation and measurement of financial education programing. Several themes emerged among participants, including:

  • Developing a K-12 financial education policy is an iterative, long-term process that often starts with a new law or policy that states can build on over time.
  • Having state working groups that meet regularly with the goal to advance K-12 financial education is key to committing to long-term success.
  • Fitting financial education consistently into any single existing academic subject can create challenges. Some states shared solutions to issues that included identifying and training qualified teachers, implementing curricular requirements and measuring outcomes.

The CFPB gained valuable feedback from the learning cluster participants. If you are involved in financial education and are interested in participating in the CFPB’s next round of learning clusters in 2020, reach out to us.


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