Another recent report, by Champlain College, surveyed states’ effectiveness at producing financially literate high school graduates. Only five states received an A — Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia — and 30 percent of states were graded either D or F.
Personal finance lessons are more important than ever for students, said Annamaria Lusardi, academic director of the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center. She pointed to the fact that student loan debt in the country has soared to $1.48 trillion.
“In high school, students decide where to go to college and how to finance their education,” Lusardi said.
To be sure, there are many efforts to bring up money in the classroom.
Ohio, ranked as the fourth-worst state in financial literacy, introduced a bill in 2016 to provide more than $300,000 to Smart Ohio, a program that trains teachers in economics. Some 75,000 students are expected to benefit from it by 2021.
A group of students from Lexington, Massachusetts, started “Project Finance” to push for more schools to teach students about money. Last year, the Council for Economic Education requested the state board of education review its standards for financial literacy for implementation.
Yet not everyone agrees that personal finance courses are the most successful way to improve students’ finances.
A 2015 study in the Journal of Human Resources found that mathematics classes were actually more effective in training students to participate in financial markets, invest their income, manage their credit and avoid foreclosures.