Eight ways to implement financial education in schools – Fast Lane
I am a...

Eight ways to implement financial education in schools

The Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center (GFLEC) conducted extensive research into the barriers that prevent schools from implementing financial education. This research consisted of focus groups and in-depth interviews with teachers, parents, students, and experts. It was further complemented by a thorough review of existing research on financial education.

Learn about are some best practices that emerged from this research:

1) Leverage the Influence of Parents and Guardians

Many teachers agreed that the advocacy of parents and guardians strongly influenced school administration. Advocacy can start with a few students and parents reaching out to a teacher. This teacher may in turn promote financial education to a school administrator, who may know how to take the conversation further. As awareness of the need for financial education grows, so does the potential for its implementation and expansion in schools.

2) Market a Personal Finance Elective

Interviews revealed that financial education was not offered in many schools, or offered only as an elective. Some teachers of personal finance felt they couldn’t push to require their course for graduation, so they built strong marketing campaigns to highlight the value of taking such a course. These efforts, which often involved student testimonies, teachers were able to increase enrollment and have a greater impact.

3) Leverage the Influence of School Administrators

Many respondents agreed that school administrators—even in the absence of state level policy requiring personal finance courses—have a lot of local influence to implement financial literacy programs and curriculum. It’s all a matter of building a case and showing the need in your school or district.

4) Spur Policy Change With Data

Many interviewees concurred that data is a great driver for convincing policy makers to support financial education. Results of pre- and post-tests are particularly effective at showing the direct impact of financial education on student learning. A strong case for financial education includes demonstrating a need in the local community and providing evidence that financial education in schools will fill that need.

5) Develop an Implementation Strategy

Interviewees shared their preference for an all-encompassing strategy over ad hoc implementation of a financial education program. Teachers felt that in addition to good curriculum and instruction, an effective strategy must incorporate teacher training, sustainable funding, and evaluations. Teachers mentioned that they can incorporate topics into existing curriculum, but they need a plan in order to make a program scalable.

6) Align Goals with Resources

One teacher took advantage of curriculum revisions to bring up the need for financial education in her school. She shared information about the status of financial literacy and financial education in her state with the administration:, expressions of student interest in a course, possible instructional implementation strategies, and wide-ranging research on the issue of financial capability in young adults. The teacher recommended the establishment of a personal finance graduation requirement, and the administration made her aware of resource limitations. They decided to add an elective course to the curriculum, monitor its progress, and revisit the issue of adding a graduation requirement in the future.

7) Make Use of the Power of Networking

The individuals we interviewed wanted to know how other districts or states implemented financial education to understand how they could promote it in their school, district, or state. Teachers shared their experiences attending financial education seminars and conferences. Students shared their experiences learning from older siblings or other classmates who took a personal finance course. People reported becoming better advocates by learning how other community members or policy makers implemented financial education.

8) Implement a Graduation Requirement

Most of the individuals we interviewed agreed that financial education should be a high school graduation requirement. While a program can be effective without a requirement, many participants said that a district or state requirement sets a quality standard, makes for consistent implementation, adds a sustainability element, and ensures that all students have the opportunity to learn the subject. Therefore, advocating for a financial education requirement is key to accelerating financial literacy efforts.