New Jersey Center for Financial Education Announces Financial Education Reviews Project

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Hailed by Policymakers, Financial Literacy Advocates, and Credentialed Personal Finance Instructors as the objective, reliable source for unbiased reviews of financial education programs and materials.

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FinEd Reviews is a great idea—educators helping one another identify instructional materials that work well in the classroom and make a difference for students, based on their own real-world experience

National attention to the problem of financial illiteracy continues to grow, accompanied by an unprecedented variety of financial education programs and materials, some created by educators and many created by the financial industry. "There has been an enormous need to identify programs that are effective, comprehensive, unbiased, and empirically-measured programs that work", said Dr. Deb Figart, Director of the FinEd Reviews Project and Director of the Stockton Center for Economic & Financial Literacy.

New Jersey became the 8th state to make Personal Finance a high school graduation requirement, which went into effect with the 2010-11 school year. "Educators need a trustworthy site, with reviews by credentialed educators, to sift through it all", said NJCFE Chair Maryanne Evanko, "New Jersey won't be the only beneficiary though," she added, "because every State and District nationwide contemplating financial literacy instruction will have access to these reviews". "Finally, schools and families will have the tools to differentiate between rigorous financial education and financial industry PR."

FinEd Reviews offers an informational template where educators write reviews of financial education lessons, curricula and programs, and games and simulations, for K-12 through college. The rating rubric is based on scholarly research that examines best practices in curricular design and instruction. “FinEd Reviews is a great idea—educators helping one another identify instructional materials that work well in the classroom and make a difference for students, based on their own real-world experience, said Phil Martin, Assistant for Financial Education and Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education, “I look forward to seeing how this project progresses. Perhaps down the road in addition to the reviews we’ll see links to rigorous impact studies of financial education programs and opportunities for teachers to develop and customize their own lessons and share them as open educational resources.”

The tagline for FinEd Reviews is “For Teachers, By Teachers” because teachers and adult trainers who are using lesson plans and personal finance programs write the reviews based on the template. Adds Dawn Kosko, a business teacher at Absegami High School in Galloway, NJ, and author of the first review about a lesson on identity theft: “FinEd Reviews is what teachers have been asking for since the new state standards in K-12 personal finance. We need to be able to hear from our peers—teachers and trainers—what lessons and programs are effective in the classroom, including whether the lessons and programs are age-appropriate, offer project-based learning, and provide tools for assessment as well and other things asked in the FinEd Reviews template.” “FinEd Reviews is a great resource for teachers to share their experiences and insights into the many financial education programs available to them,” noted New Jersey Education Association President Barbara Keshishian. Further, “FinEd Reviews is also a tremendous time saver for teachers seeking a financial education program best suited for their students’ grade level and needs.”

“FinEd Reviews is a terrific complement to the resources in the Jump$tart clearinghouse of personal finance materials by adding comparative criteria and convenience,” said Dan Hebert, Northeast Regional Director of Jump$tart and State President of the New Hampshire Jump$tart Coalition. The materials reviewed would include federal, nonprofit, and privately-created programs that span topics and age-groups.

The FinEd Reviews project is seeking:
1. Credentialed educators who have used Financial Education materials in their classes, and can write thoughtful and useful, first-hand reviews.
2. Product and Program nominations to add to the List of Financial Literacy Programs and Lessons that is regularly updated by the Stockton Center for Economic & Financial Literacy.
3. Links to scholarly impact studies of financial education programs that identify student outcomes resulting from the lessons and programs.
4. Grants and Partnerships to support this valuable research and public service project.
To inquire about writing a review, nominating a program, or partnerships, contact finedrev@stockton.edu

About NJCFE. The New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education (http://www.njcfe.org) is an affiliate of the non-profit national Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. NJCFE has over 150 partners in the State of New Jersey. With a mission to bring together interest parties to provide unbiased and objective programs, services, resources, and advocacy to improve financial literacy, NJCFE organizes and coordinates a number of events, conferences, and professional development opportunities for teachers and trainers. To learn more about the NJCFE, call 609-306-3810.

About Dr. Figart. Dr. Figart is Director of the Stockton Center for Economic & Financial Literacy (http://www.stockton.edu/finlit), which serves as the southern regional office of the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education. She is Professor of Education and Economics in the School of Education at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Dr. Figart has been a teacher for nearly 30 years. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, she regularly provides professional development workshops for teachers and trainers in the areas of economic and financial literacy. She can be reached at 609-652-4634, or through the Stockton School of Education at 609-652-4688.

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Deborah Figart, Ph.D.
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