Economics, Finance Classes Lagging for Public School Students

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Council for Economic Education’s 2014 survey of the states reveals slow to no growth.

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The 17 states that require a personal finance course today represent only about 40% of the U.S. population. That’s a huge gap and we need to close it.

A majority of the public school students in the United States still are not exposed to economics or personal finance education despite the lessons of the recent recession, a new survey shows.

Only 22 of the 50 states require high school students to take an economics course and only 16 states require testing of economics concepts, the survey found. Two years ago when a similar survey was taken, the totals were the same.

While only 17 states require high school students to take a personal finance course and only 6 require testing of personal finance concepts, there has been some growth since 2011 when the totals were 13 and 6.

“The Great Recession put a spotlight on the dangers of a financially illiterate society, demonstrating the importance of a basic understanding of economic and financial concepts,” said Nan J. Morrison, the president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education (CEE). “We’ve got to do a better job of helping our policy makers and educators ensure that students nearing adulthood gain that understanding.”

The "Survey of the States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools" is conducted every two years by the CEE. The biennial report collects data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and includes commentary from experts and educators in the field to provide a comprehensive look into the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States.

The 2014 Survey of the States was made possible by funding from Capital One Financial Corporation.

"Recent economic challenges have highlighted the importance of teaching our kids to understand personal finance. The day-to-day relevance of economic concepts and financial responsibility will only continue to increase as the world is rapidly transformed by science and technology. Providing students with the practical tools they need to apply that knowledge will help them succeed financially by creating businesses, driving innovation, and achieving personal dreams,” said Richard D. Fairbank, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Capital One Financial Corporation. “Working together, we can infuse our classrooms with the necessary foundational capabilities and make financial education a centerpiece of our public and private agenda."

According to CEE, previous research has demonstrated that students from states with required financial education courses are more likely to save, less likely to max out their credit cards or make late credit card payments, more likely to pay off credit cards each month and less likely to be compulsive buyers.

“Economic and financial education is important because our kids need to graduate with an understanding of basic concepts,” added Morrison. “The 17 states that require a personal finance course today represent only about 40% of the U.S. population. That’s a huge gap and we need to close it. We must expand our high school curricula and then provide our teachers with the tools they need to help students develop these essential real-world skills.”

The 2014 Survey of the States is available for download at:

Click here to access the interactive Survey of the States online.

About the Council for Economic Education

The Council for Economic Education is the leading organization in the United States that focuses on the economic and financial education of students from kindergarten through high school - and we have been doing so for 65 years. We carry out our mission by educating the educators: providing the curriculum tools, the pedagogical support, and the community of peers that instruct, inspire, and guide. All resources and programs are developed by educators, and delivered by our national network of affiliates. Our goal is to reach and teach every child. Each year CEE’s programs reach more than 55,000 K-12 teachers and over 5 million students across the United States.

For further information about the Council for Economic Education go to:

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, is a Fortune 500 company with more than 900 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Its subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. We apply the same principles of innovation, collaboration and empowerment in our commitment to our communities across the country that we do in our business. We recognize that helping to build strong and healthy communities – good places to work, good places to do business and good places to raise families – benefits us all and we are proud to support this and other community initiatives.

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