Recent Financial Education Insights & Resources

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig

The Council on Economic Education (CEE) just issued the results of their 2014 Survey of the States. This survey collects data on state-based K-12 financial literacy mandates and testing requirements. It is very interesting to see how the states compare to one another. However, even with this information, it remains very difficult to know if we are producing the desired outcomes. In other words, it is not clear what cocktail of mandates and tests, if any, will result in the behavior and attitude changes that our students need to effectively handle their future financial lives.

There was a promising finding in a recent U.S. Treasury-sponsored research project on young children and bank branches in schools. Check it out here. One of the most robust findings was regarding the attitude change among students. The student group that was exposed to the bank branch in school showed a marked improvement in their thoughts/attitudes towards how easy it was to save in a bank. This may seem simplistic, but in the long run, this minor change in attitude change could prove significant.

Increasing our students’ financial capabilities is hard work and not simply a function of knowledge transfer — which makes it an especially hard nut to crack in the modern test-filled classroom. The Treasury and its councils have done some great holistic work discussing the different facets of financial capability as opposed to just financial literacy that include choice architecture and consumer protection. It is not totally clear what the formula is for our students, and frankly for all of us, to become more financially capable, but there is interesting work underway. Here are a few additional resources to check out if you are interested in some of the academic work that is going on:

U.S. Treasury Financial Capability Research Presentation (2014)

Chicago Fed Economist discussing her research on the importance of math education

Harvard Business School: High School Curriculum and Financial Outcomes… (2014)

Chicago Fed’s Financial Literacy and The Effectiveness of Financial Education and Counseling: A Review of the Literature

For folks who live in the Chicago area or are simply interested in getting involved, IL Jump$tart is holding its inaugural Action Network for Financial Empowerment (ANFE) meeting at the Chicago Fed on July 25th. Check out their website for details.