Money Talks: Southeastern States Boost Personal Finance Efforts

Money Talks

Southeastern states boost personal finance efforts

Photo of students and teacherPersonal finance is a hot topic in education circles across the Southeast. All six of the states in the region include personal finance components as part of their curriculum, but how these components are infused into the curriculum varies significantly from state to state.

This article surveys the status of Southeastern states' personal finance efforts and provides examples of Federal Reserve resources that can assist you in teaching these standards.

In Alabama, all career and technical education foundational courses have been revised to integrate financial literacy components and standards that complement the existing standards. The newly redesigned courses have been implemented during the 2009–10 school year in school systems across the state. Through its career and technical education division, Alabama also offers an elective personal finance course as both a traditional and an online course.

Florida currently incorporates personal finance concepts into its economics, math, and various career and technical education courses. Among the financial literacy concepts featured in these courses are calculating compound interest, using the consumer price index to express prices, computing the present and future values of money, and analyzing credit scores and reports. The state also offers an elective course as part of its career and technical education program. This personal and family finance course covers the U.S. economic system, services of financial institutions, saving and investment strategies, consumer credit, income and careers, and financial plans.

Personal finance is included as one of five themes in Georgia's required economics course. Personal finance concepts covered include applying decision making to personal spending and saving choices, evaluating the costs and benefits of credit, explaining the impact of monetary and fiscal policy on spending and saving choices, and describing how worker earnings are determined in the marketplace. The business and computer science division of the career, technical, and agricultural education department offers a stand-alone financial literacy course that may be taken by any high school student as an elective course.

High school students in Louisiana receive personal finance as part of a free enterprise course required for graduation. Personal finance concepts in the course are intended to help students better understand how personal finance relates to them on civic, governmental, and personal levels. The four primary personal finance areas covered are decision making, saving, investing, and credit. Another way that Louisiana students can learn about personal finance is by taking financial mathematics as their fourth math credit. The 10-unit financial mathematics course covers income, financial accounts, credit, investments, and record keeping.

Mississippi offers a high school course in personal finance as part of its business and technology framework. The half-credit course focuses on consumer awareness, financial services, money management, credit, investments, and various other financial concepts. Several other courses cover personal finance concepts as part of their instruction. For example, an agriculture business and management course includes units related to credit, budgets, record keeping, taxes, and insurance, and a family and consumer sciences life connections course includes a unit on money management.

Tennessee has a half-credit course in personal finance that is required for high school graduation for students graduating in 2013 and beyond. The four primary standards  for the course are income, money management, spending and credit, and saving and investing. Educators who have certifications in business technology, marketing, family and consumer sciences and/or economics are automatically qualified to teach the course. Other educators may participate in a 14-hour training conducted by a state-approved organization, such as the Federal Reserve, to become qualified to teach the personal finance course in Tennessee.

Personal finance resources
The Federal Reserve provides a number of print and electronic resources related to personal finance. A sample of resources available from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta includes:

  • Saving Power = Spending Power—A lesson designed by Tennessee teacher Greg Glandon for the Atlanta Fed's 2009 Lesson Plan of the Year Contest. This lesson focuses on the value of saving money and on different methods of saving. A reading assignment from a Federal Reserve comic, A Penny Saved, serves as an introduction.
  • Charge! But to which card?—A lesson designed by Tennessee teacher Brian Hoover for the Atlanta Fed's 2007 Lesson Plan of the Year Contest. In this lesson students learn about the various types of credit cards and credit card offers and gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of managing a credit card account. Students also compare and contrast various credit cards by using the Federal Reserve Board's Credit Cards Web site.
  • We're in the Money—A middle school lesson designed by Louisiana teacher Pam Carruba for the 2007 Lesson Plan of the Year Contest, in which students study money and its place in the economy. Students participate in a barter activity to understand the need for money and explore both modern and historical money.
  • Katrina's Classroom: Financial Lessons from a HurricaneA four-chapter DVD-based curriculum that teaches students about financial responsibilities such as budgeting, banking, savings, and wise use of credit. The curriculum includes lesson plans and student activities tied to each five-minute video segment. Three extension activities explore related topics.

Upcoming training
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and its branches offer a variety of professional development opportunities for educators including personal finance training. For a current list of training, see the Calendar of Events.

Alabama Department of Education. 2008. New partnership promotes K–12 financial literacy.
Florida Department of Education. 2010. 2010–11 finance career cluster curriculum frameworks.
Florida Department of Education. 2010. Next generation Sunshine State standards.
Georgia Department of Education. 2008. Economics course standards.
Louisiana Department of Education. 2008. Standards, assessments, and accountability: Comprehensive curriculum.
Louisiana Department of Education. 2008. Standards, assessments, and accountability: High school graduation requirements.
Mississippi Department of Education. 2004. 2004 Mississippi business and technology framework.
Mississippi Department of Education. 2007. Vocational and technical education curriculum.
Tennessee Department of Education. Personal finance curriculum standards.

The author also thanks the following people for additional information about various state's personal finance education programs: Paggie McSpadden, Alabama; Ann Hatchell, Georgia; and Brenda Ables, Tennessee.

By Jackie Morgan, senior economic and financial education specialist, Nashville Branch

February 24, 2010