• Cameron Spann

Updated Report Card on Financial Literacy Reveals America is Failing its Children


Collierville, TN (July 13, 2021) — Today, the non-profit American Public Education Foundation released a comprehensive update to its national report card on K-12 state-mandated personal financial education in all 50 states and the District of Columbia: The Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy. This 50-state review – now with the addition of Puerto Rico – points to a nation in crisis with regard to our schools’ failure to prepare and educate K-12 students in personal finance and decision-making.


Financial illiteracy is an American epidemic and the problem is growing. The 2021 analysis found that two-thirds of states (35 states including Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.) earned grades of “C” or less for financial literacy instruction, with just 17 states earning grades of “A” or “B.”


Notable changes in this 2021 report card versus the 2019 report card include Nebraska and North Carolina moving from a “B” to an “A,” Alabama moving from a “C” to a “B,” Vermont moving from a “D” to a “C,” and Rhode Island moving from an “F” to a “D.”


The APEF statewide analysis team was led by David A. Pickler, J.D., CFP®, an award-winning wealth advisor and one of Financial Times’ 400 Top Advisors. Pickler also served as past president of the National School Boards Association and has been an education leader for more than 30 years. David was also awarded the Invest in Others Foundation Catalyst Award in 2019 for his work in financial literacy and workforce development.

“While it is encouraging to see a few states elevate their grade since our 2019 report card, there is still a significant amount of work to do,” says David Pickler, who also serves as Executive Director of the non-profit American Public Education Foundation. “Our nation is rapidly sinking into a sea of debt and financial dependency. We have created a collective culture where it is acceptable to pursue bankruptcy as a solution to irresponsible financial behavior and decision making. Each of us has a responsibility to change this culture, to become accountable partners in preparing our children to make sound financial choices, or face the consequences that will undermine America’s future and threaten our economic and national security interests.”

According to The Aspen Institute, 16% of suicides in the US occur in response to a financial problem. Further, a USA TODAY report states that less than one-fourth of young Americans ages 18 to 26 are “very optimistic” about their financial futures. APEF continues to collaborate with a growing roster of financial and education experts who call for financial education at an early age to combat our nation’s escalating financial crisis.


Report Card Methodology: Drawing upon state legislation, graduation requirements, standards, and curriculum, the APEF report card grades each state’s financial literacy instruction. The report card only gave five states – Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia – an “A” grade for mandating personal financial education across grades K-12 and requiring a stand-alone personal finance course for high school graduation. 12 states received a “B,” 19 states received a “C,” and 12 states received a “D.” Four states/locations – Alaska, D.C., Puerto Rico, and South Dakota – received an “F” for failing to guarantee any financial literacy instruction in K-12 schools.


Model Legislation: In addition to aggregating and disseminating best practices around financial literacy, APEF has available for immediate download model state legislation of benefit to policymakers or educators seeking to require a stand-alone personal finance course as a mandatory prerequisite to high school graduation.


View The Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy: https://www.thenationsreportcard.org/

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