As you will see in this report, a B grade does not necessarily mean that a state requires an adequate level of instruction. The Center estimates that half of Grade B states allocate less than one-quarter of a half-year course in high school to personal finance topics. This means that students in 8 of these Grade B states receive between 7 and 13 hours of personal finance instruction in all of high school. In fact, our research identifies just 11 states that appear to require 15 or more hours of personal finance education in high school.
*May not equal 100% due to rounding.
Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah & Virginia
Tennessee and Utah both require a half-year course in personal finance as a graduation requirement. Alabama and Virginia both require that personal finance instruction be given as part of a full-year course. Based on our review of the educational standards of these full-year courses, we concluded that students in these states are receiving the equivalent of a half-year personal finance course. Missouri allows local school districts to determine whether the personal finance instruction is delivered in a stand-alone half-year course or is embedded as half of the instruction in a full-year course.
UTAH-THE ONLY STATE IN THE NATION WORTHY OF THE GRADE A+
The state of Utah should be commended for its efforts. Utah requires that all high school students take a half-year course exclusively dedicated to personal finance topics, and students are required to take an end-of-course assessment examination created and administered by the state. The state requires that educators teaching this course obtain a specific endorsement in general financial literacy that includes coursework on financial planning; credit and investing; and consumer, personal and family economics. The state also provides its educators with tools, resources and many professional development opportunities. General financial literacy is a funded mandate in Utah.
Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas & West Virginia
States with a B grade have personal finance topics in their educational standards and require local school districts to implement them. To graduate from high school in a B state, a student must take a course that includes personal finance topics. Most states identify a specific course that must be taken to graduate from high school that includes financial literacy instruction. Other states have very specific standards that must be taught as a graduation requirement but leave how the instruction is implemented up to local school districts. These states require that personal finance topics be taught and embed them in economics, civics, family and consumer sciences, business, life skills, career readiness or mathematics courses. A chart on the Keys to Success page titled “How Do Grade A & B States Deliver Personal Finance Education to High School Students?” shows the different types of courses in which personal finance topics are required to be taught.
Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon & Washington
States were given the grade of C because they require substantive personal finance topics be taught in high school to all students by including these topics in the states’ instructional guidelines. Implementation is a local control issue, and how these guidelines are implemented varies greatly from school district to school district. Some districts may be doing an exceptional job, while others are barely covering the topic.
A state may also earn a Grade C if that state requires each high school to offer a stand-alone personal finance elective. But offering an elective means that many students will graduate without any exposure to personal finance. For example, Washington state requires that all high school students be provided with access to personal finance instruction, but doesn’t require students to avail themselves of this instruction. In Washington this requirement could be met by offering either an elective course, a before- or after-school workshop, or an online education course.
These states are not monitoring how the required academic standards are being taught. Two of the states, Mississippi and New Mexico, earned a C grade because they require each high school to offer a personal finance course as an elective. This at least gives students the choice to take such a course. Texas also requires that high schools offer a personal finance course as an elective. Texas receives a Grade B because it also requires all students to take an economics course that includes personal finance concepts as a graduation requirement.
Louisiana, Montana, Vermont & Wyoming
Those states receiving a D grade require that modest levels of personal finance topics be included in instructional guidelines applicable to all students. Schools are not instructed to include the topics in any course needed for graduation. In Grade D states, personal finance concepts may be taught in elective courses or partially integrated into other courses, if they are taught at all. How these standards are implemented is left up to the school districts. It is not clear how the states ensure that the schools teach these topics. These states are not monitoring how the required academic standards are being taught. As described earlier in this report, Louisiana has a grade of D because it requires all high schools to offer an elective course that includes a modest level of personal finance education.
Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota & Wisconsin
These states have few requirements or none at all for personal finance education in high school. High school students in these states are able to graduate without ever having the opportunity to take a course that includes financial literacy instruction.
The Case for High School Financial LiteracyResults SummaryKeys to SuccessRating Method