Now that Ohio has made personal finance basics a mandatory requirement to graduate from high school, people are starting to look at the problem of who teaches it and what it consists of (just look at the comment threads in the two related posts below to see the wide spectrum of opinions and personal experience anecdotes). A new Ohio State University study has found that the current level of teaching is all over the place—and the people teaching it have widely varying levels of knowledge about the subject matter.
From the survey, which was distributed to 1,145 Ohio high schools, Loibl found that most personal finance curricula was taught by family and consumer science teachers (38 percent) or business education teachers (33 percent). Social studies teachers (20 percent) also often taught the subject. Teaching it to a lesser degree were math, science, technology, and agricultural science teachers (6 percent total), and other teachers, including English and fine arts (3 percent).
Not surprisingly, different teachers tended to focus on different personal finance topics in the classroom, Loibl found. Family and consumer sciences teachers were more likely to teach credit, budgeting, and financial goal-setting, while business teachers were more likely to focus on tax topics, credit and insurance and social studies teachers were more likely to teach about investments, taxes, and limited-resources topics.
What’s troubling is that a large number of those teaching the subject weren’t able to show mastery of the material—which may indicate a need to provide some appropriate teacher-training before it can be passed down successfully to the next generation:
The survey also quizzed the teachers on their own knowledge of personal finance topics, such as when is the best time to transfer money into a long-term bond fund, and what is the average credit score in the United States. Only two of the respondents answered all nine questions correctly. Only three questions were answered correctly by more than half of the teachers. Teachers from different disciplines had different strengths. For example, business education teachers (who earned the highest scores, overall) were more likely to know that negative financial information can stay on a person’s credit report for seven to 10 years, while social studies teachers were more likely to know the best average returns over the last 20 years have been generated by stocks in comparison with other investment options.
“Study examines how Ohio high schools teach personal finance” [North Texas e-News]