Financial Literacy and Professional Development

A recent column by Michelle Singletary, a personal finance columnist at the Washington Post, caught my eye. "We are Flunking Personal Finance" looks at a recent study by the University of Wisconsin at Madison entitled Teachers' Background & Capacity to Teach Personal Finance. The study indicates that less than 20% of K12 teachers feel they were “very competent” in the six areas of financial literacy focused on in the study. Those areas included:


  • Income and careers
  • Planning and money management
  • Credit and debt
  • Financial responsibility and decision making
  • Saving and investing Risk management and insurance

From the column:



This study reinforces the need to incorporate personal money management topics into educational opportunities for teachers, whether in undergraduate or graduate curricula for students studying to become teachers, or as postgraduate or in-service courses or workshops," says Ted Beck, president and chief executive of NEFE. "We have an opportunity to dramatically affect the quality of K-12 financial education by providing teachers with the subject matter expertise they need throughout their careers."

Increasingly, states are pushing economic education. The number of states that require students to take a personal finance course, or instruction as part of an economics class, increased to 13 in 2009 from seven in 2007, according to the Council for Economic Education. Although states are setting up financial education guidelines, an overwhelming majority of teachers who participated in the NEFE survey said they didn't feel qualified to offer instruction at the level of the standard set by their states, the researchers said.

Recent economic events have made it clear that financial literacy is vital to both the global economy and as a factor for personal success. How can these important life-lessons be incorporated into the classroom without professional development for the teachers who are expected to help the students?

Share this post