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The Start of a Movement

December 20, 2018

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Report affirms research findings and program approach

Research-based approach to school-based financial literacy

If you have been following our work, you likely know that we spent almost two years researching what makes financial education effective. We poured through the literature, connected with other financial capability experts, produced white papers, and utilized our own expertise in pedagogy and curriculum design. You might also know that our research found many common approaches to financial education to be ineffective.

Recognizing that a new model for financial education was needed, we decided to develop our own research-based financial education program for high school students. We knew pursuing a research-based model likely meant that our program would look different from other programs. For one, our program puts much more emphasis on the art and science of financial decision-making—a more enduring and essential skill—over the recall of financial information and facts.

Towards more robust and complete financial education

That said, we were thrilled to see our research findings and program approach affirmed in two new reports by the Brookings Institution: A Review of Large-Scale Youth Financial Literacy Education Policies and Programs and Recommendations for Improving Youth Financial Literacy Education. The reports’ findings mirrored many of our own, including:

— It’s not enough to simply lecture students about personal finance. Students need opportunities to practice making financial decisions.

— Financial socialization, particularly by parents, affects students' norms, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors around money. Students should be attuned to these influences.

— Executive functioning skills (e.g., self-control) affect financial decision-making. Financial education should encourage students to be reflective about their tendencies, biases, and other personal factors.

— Schools should be provided with more guidance on how to best provide financial education to students. As evidence suggests that a comprehensive, robust curriculum can have a positive impact on students’ financial outcomes, teachers should be connected with high-quality, evidence-based financial education materials.

We are encouraged by these reports, as they confirm to us that our program is on the right path. We are proud to have developed a program that is well-thought-out and informed by research. Hopefully, the Brooking Institution’s reports mark the start of a larger movement for more robust, researched-based, and complete financial education in schools.