Best and worst states for the subject every school should be teaching

Comprehensive report details state progress (or lack of) in teaching finance and economics in K-12

states-finance-economyIn the midst of the country’s slow climb to economic recovery, there’s been an outpouring of support from communities to teach today’s students the one subject that could perhaps prevent future economic woes: personal finance and economics. However, though states are making progress, there’s still work to be done.

“The number one problem in today’s generation and economy is the lack of financial literacy,” said Alan Greenspan, economist and former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

And the Council for Economic Education (CEE) agrees. The CEE’s report, “Survey of the States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools 2014,” conducted every two years by the CEE and collects data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, highlights the best and worst states for teaching personal finance literacy. It also reveals some startling facts about student struggling with finance.

For example, a majority of the public school students in the U.S. still are not exposed to economics or personal finance education despite the lessons of the recent recession. 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.

Also, 30 percent of college students with loans drop out without having completed their degree, found the CEE, yet only 17 states require a high school course in personal finance.

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

“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 Morrison, the president and CEO of the CEE, in a statement. “We’ve got to do a better job of helping our policy makers and educators ensure that students nearing adulthood gain that understanding.”

(Next page: The best and worst states for finance education)

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