Economic Education, Financial Literacy and Recent Research

Knowledge Pay$ Off Readers, as you may know, the value of K-12 student’s economic and financial education knowledge has become increasingly more important given the growing complexity of our financial decisions. Whether it’s determining to go to college, or to pursue vocational training, to buying a car, or a house to planning for retirement, research supports that economic and financial literacy best positions individuals and households in making informed financial decisions.

In Maryland, we acknowledge this fact, as evidenced by the State Standards on Financial Education and Economics standards infused in Social Studies curricula and the Common Core College and Career Ready standards. And, we are fortunate in Maryland that with the appointment of our State Superintendent, Dr. Lowery, to the President’s Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, Maryland’s school systems are uniquely positioned to gain the latest information on financial education best practices and research. It is important to note that the Council on Economic Education (CEE), an organization that’s been around for 60 years, and the Maryland Council’s (MCEE) national affiliate, “served in an advisory capacity to the President’s Council and contributed curricula and advice on the initiative, including content from the Financial Fitness for Life program” (Council on Economic Education, 2012).

What the President’s Council and the latest research reinforced, and what CEE had already put into practice, is that it’s never too early to begin teaching kids the skills they need to evaluate and assess their financial decisions. In fact, after a research review, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability found that it’s important to expose and reinforce financial skills early in life to foster good financial habits (PACFC “Final Report”, 2013). To support this approach, the Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans came up with Money as You Grow, a set of teaching resources.  This tool, identifies age bands, milestones, content and strategies, to help parents, schools, and interested parties, prioritize and navigate the information necessary to help kids gain the content and skills they need to make informed choices. What is particularly useful is the poster that documents the content appropriate for each age band. (http://moneyasyougrow.org/#)

The President’s Advisory Council also acknowledged that financial education is a life-long process. As such, parents, schools, employers, non-profits and government policy-makers must partner together to ensure “adequate access to education and enlightened regulation and consumer protection” (PACFC “Final Report”, 2013). The President’s Council also advocated for continued research in “the development of what works strategies” to enhance the likelihood that students will retain the information and skills necessary to process their financial decisions; develop what we at the Maryland Council like to call, an economic way of thinking (PACFC “Final Report”, 2013).

The Maryland Council on Economic Education is also uniquely positioned, based on 60 years of experience, to deliver and share financial and economic education resources, materials, and training based on “what works” strategies developed by education professionals and on researched best practices. The Maryland Council, also has a full set of elementary lessons tied to literature, perfect for the Common Core, and devised around Maryland Standards (Maryland Council on Economic Education, 2014). In addition, our national affiliate, CEE, crafted a comprehensive set of lessons called Financial Fitness for Life that covers grades 3 through 12 (CEE, 2014). CEE and MCEE, also have a plethora of K-12 teaching resources to support American History, World History, Government, Social Studies, Math, and Business Education.

Over the next few postings, MCEE will offer brief overviews and links to recent research on what it takes to promote life-long skills/behaviors to better position students with the skills they need to help foster informed decision-making.  We hope you will continue to stay tuned for links and brief overviews of the recent research findings and suggestions on “what works” in economic and financial education.