Teaching Financial Literacy Can Unlock Academic Measurement

Growing up in a working class family, we never got money stuck in a birthday or holiday card, that’s why I remember the time I got a savings bond $25 from my grandmother.

State Treasurer Dave Young

It came in a birthday card when I was 7 or 8. Twenty-five dollars was a fortune to me. Even though I wanted access to that money at the time, I knew my payment would double to $50 if I waited 20 years for the bond to mature.

It was my first memory of dealing with money, but certainly not the last. And that was my introduction to financial literacy as a kid.

Financial literacy refers to a person’s ability to make sound financial decisions. Without it, people will struggle to make ends meet, plan their finances, and achieve economic well-being.

READ: Colorado Sun Opinion Columnists.

As a former junior high school math teacher, I know that too few students — especially those from low-income backgrounds — receive personal finance training in school. Still, they are expected to make big financial decisions about student loans and budgeting for living expenses after graduation.

Teaching students to acquire financial literacy by evaluating, analyzing, and utilizing personal finance practices that positively impact quality of life will position students for success throughout their careers and into adulthood.

Although the Colorado State Board of Education strongly encourages local school boards to include personal finance courses and programs statewide, only about 25% of districts include personal finance in their approved degrees.

Financial education is an essential part of the skills that students from preschool through high school need to acquire financial literacy and be financially independent.

I support financial literacy as part of an ongoing curriculum; however, I stop short of supporting a state-designated high school graduation requirement.

I have trouble with this because How? ‘Or’ What we measure whether someone is financially literate.

If we have a graduation requirement, then there must be learning outcomes that are expected, and how we measure those learning outcomes must match the complexity of the learning. I’m afraid we’re defaulting to the bubble tests as we always have, and the students are passing the bubble tests, and we’re snagging the proverbial “Mission Accomplished” inscription, when in fact the students do not have financial knowledge.

One of the reasons I’m so passionate about financial literacy is that it holds the key to solving how we measure real learning in other academic fields. If someone really has financial knowledge, we should be able to observe a change in their financial behaviors.

But you can’t measure behavioral change on a bubble test – you need to have ongoing systems in place that, with the student’s permission, capture real changes in how they manage their money over a long period of time. of time.

If we can understand this for financial literacy, I think it would be very beneficial for the rest of the education system as we try to develop better ways to measure learning in other areas.

Frankly, some of this is well known in “untested” areas like the arts, sciences, physical education, and early childhood. But learning math and language arts is particularly driven by superficial testing methods that are simply inadequate.

Everyone is affected by their level of financial literacy. Increasingly, people are expected to understand and make decisions in a complex financial environment, including the management and selection of credit cards, loans, banking and insurance, and the retirement planning.

Some of the money problems Americans are currently facing could be avoided if financial literacy was taught earlier in school. Financial literacy classes teach students the basics of money management: budgeting, saving, debt, investing, giving, and more. This knowledge lays the foundation for students to build strong financial habits early on and avoid many of the mistakes that lead to lifelong financial struggles.

I challenge us in April, which is Financial Literacy Month, to think of creative ways to implement financial literacy into the curriculum, while being able to accurately observe changes in financial behaviors at courses in a student’s life that lead to financial empowerment.


Dave Young, of Greeley, is Colorado State Treasurer.


The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the editorial staff. Read our Ethics Policy to learn more about The Sun’s opinion policy and submit reviews, suggested authors and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

Follow the Colorado Sun’s opinion on Twitter, instagram and Facebook.


We believe vital information should be seen by those affected, whether it is a public health crisis, investigative reporting or holding lawmakers accountable. This report depends on the support of readers like you.

Sarah J. Greer