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  • Cameron Spann

Updated Report Card on Financial Literacy Reveals America Still Has Work to Do in the Classroom

Today, the non-profit American Public Education Foundation released the third edition of its national report on K-12 state-mandated personal financial education in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico: The Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy. This 50-state review – created and released every two years by the foundation – found a nation making vital changes in financial literacy instruction. However, many states still need to make it a priority.

The 2023 analysis found that 65% (or 34 states including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) earned either an “A” or a “B.” This is a stark difference compared to the foundation’s 2021 report card that found only 17 states earning high marks.

“While it is extremely encouraging to see so many states making the right decisions for their students since our last report card was released, there is still much work to be done,” says David Pickler, Executive Director of the non-profit American Public Education Foundation. “The 35% of states that earned a ‘C’ or less is what we are focused on. The American Public Education Foundation will continue fighting for financial literacy, and our goal is to continue producing this report card until all 50 states, our capital, and Puerto Rico earn ‘As’ across the board.”

Notable changes in this 2023 report card include Florida and West Virginia jumping two letter grades to an “A,” and Connecticut and New Mexico moving from a “D” to a “B.”

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 president of the National School Boards Association in 2013 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, and is a two-time Charitable Champion.

According to Nerd Wallet, as of 2022, Americans owe $1.11 trillion in credit card debt. The company also found that, as of January 2023, 45% of Americans say their household financial situation worsened since the pandemic. Further, and more bleakly, The Aspen Institute states that 16% of suicides in the U.S. occur in response to a financial problem.

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 gave eleven states – Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and West Virgina – an “A” grade for mandating personal financial education across grades K-12 and requiring a stand-alone personal finance course for high school graduation.

23 states earned a “B,” 9 states a “C,” 5 states a “D,” and 4 states an “F.”

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:

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