Educators in the financial education industry are being urged to help expand financial literacy.
The Financial Literacy Alliance is calling for a greater emphasis on using data and data-driven learning to help teachers create better learning experiences for students.
In a report released this week, the organization called for a stronger emphasis on data-based learning to boost students’ financial literacy and retention, including using data to better target learning opportunities, better communicate and create a more focused learning environment.
“The goal of financial education should be to enable learners to learn by doing,” said Robert R. McBride, CEO of the Alliance.
“We want our students to know that when they finish their course of study, they’ll be ready to take on financial responsibility and take on the financial challenges that are on their plate.”
The financial literacy movement, which began in the 1970s, has grown from a small group of educators who gathered in a series of small conferences in the late 1990s to become a multi-million dollar industry with over 1,000 educational programs and $30 billion in revenue.
Many educators today use financial education as a way to connect with students and teachers.
“Financial education is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy,” said Dan Smith, CEO and co-founder of the Financial Education Association, a national membership organization that represents about 100,000 financial education professionals.
He added, “Financial literacy is the new ‘civic duty’ that all of us have to learn more about our financial responsibilities.”
One key to helping financial educators improve financial literacy, according to the Alliance, is to make the financial literacy education curriculum more inclusive of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
The Alliance’s report notes that many financial education programs do not reflect students’ individual strengths or interests.
As a result, the report calls for a new approach to financial literacy that emphasizes the importance of data and more data-intensive learning to increase student financial success.
For instance, the Alliance recommends that financial literacy programs provide data that is relevant to students and their families and that data-informed instruction helps teachers create a learning environment that encourages students to take responsibility for their financial decisions.
According to the report, financial literacy students should be taught to: • Be able to access and compare data on their own and with others; • Know how to use data to understand their own finances and how to better manage their financial situations; • Be able and willing to learn and apply data to make better financial decisions; • Have the opportunity to create a financial plan and plan for their finances; and • Learn about and use financial tools and calculators.
This is critical, the document states, because “financial literacy is one aspect of learning that students need to be able to thrive in.”
Additionally, it recommends that education programs be open to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, so that “everyone can participate in the success of the program.”
To help teachers develop financial literacy skills, the new report recommends using a series, such as “financial tools and calculator” and “financial assessment,” to teach students about the concepts and tools available to them.
Additionally and more broadly, the Financial Literate Teacher Network, a non-profit educational organization that offers financial literacy training, recommends that teachers develop a curriculum that is tailored to their classroom needs.
While the Alliance supports increasing financial literacy awareness among teachers, it also wants to see more financial literacy curricula for students and students’ parents.
It also recommends that schools provide financial literacy-focused training for students with special needs and those with disabilities, and provide support for parents and students who want to improve financial skills.
Finally, it recommended that school districts increase the number of financial literacy teachers and staff, and increase the amount of financial preparation materials and resources available to educators and parents.