Effective Financial Education in Schools

Good news about the elephant in the classroom

Financial education in schools only is effective if presented by teachers who have been properly trained, not just in pedagogy, but in personal finance itself. Well-meaning supporters of school-based financial education often don’t incorporate teacher training requirements, and in fact, just assume that any teacher required to teach personal finance will be good at it.

However, more than 80 percent of teachers don’t feel confident in teaching personal finance, according to a 2009 NEFE-funded University of Wisconsin study. The best way to build teacher confidence, the study found, is with proper training into how to teach personal finance.

Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy and NEFE just completed a two-year study with 817 Vermont high school students and teachers with 45 hours of graduate-level financial literacy training to see if training teachers makes a difference in student learning outcomes — and it does.

Students taught by the well-trained teachers improved by 17 percent in financial capability knowledge and behavior, while control group students (who received no instruction) dropped by 2 percent in the same measures. Pilot group students also showed “high financial literacy” on par with Generation Xers (ages 35-49), outperforming the control group students and older Millennials (ages 18-34) in the population at large.

So, not only did the students of trained teachers outperform their peers, but they reached the same level of financial literacy as many in their parents’ generation.

Although most states currently lack guidelines or certifications for who can teach personal finance, Billy Hensley, Ph.D., NEFE’s senior director of education, says, “Given the outstanding results of pilot teacher training programs such as the one in Vermont, such guidelines are within our reach.”

See the full study, Prepped for Success, at http://www.champlain.edu/prepped-for-success.

See the full Spring 2016 Digest or download the PDF.


  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]