SUMMARY OF GRADE
Significant Accomplishments: Consumer education high school requirement; 1-12 social studies financial literacy standards
Needs Improvement: Needs to require a high school stand-alone personal finance course; Create Kindergarten financial literacy standards
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK
Consumer education is not a high school graduation requirement in Illinois, but its instruction is required by law. Illinois School Code mandates that “Pupils in the public schools in grades 9 through 12 shall be taught and required to study courses which include instruction in the area of consumer education… The State Board of Education shall devise or approve the consumer education curriculum for grades 9 through 12 and specify the minimum amount of instruction to be devoted thereto.” Illinois Administrative Code specifically provides that “each student shall be required to take consumer education for 50 minutes per day for a period of nine weeks in any of grades 9-12.” This is approximately equivalent to a one-quarter credit. In a high school graduation requirement guide, the Illinois School Board of Education explains that “consumer education could be incorporated into a related course rather than offered as a stand-alone course, provided the content and time requirements are met.”
Previously, Illinois offered an option for students to test out of their consumer education requirement. From 1986-2010, students could take the Annual Consumer Education Proficiency Test, or ICEPT, developed by the Illinois State Board of Education, in order to receive credit for consumer education if they scored proficient or higher. The test was discontinued by Public Act 096-1061 (Senate Bill 3698) in 2010, likely due to budget constraints. In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed SB 1830 which includes language indicating that “beginning with pupils entering the 9th grade in the 2021-2022 school year and each school year thereafter, one semester, or part of one semester, may include a financial literacy course.”
Illinois has financial literacy standards in the Illinois Social Science Standards for each grade, beginning in first. This ensures students are exposed to and instructed in financial literacy throughout their entire public-school career.
Illinois receives a “B” for ensuring financial literacy instruction for Grades K-12 through its social science standards. By allowing local districts to determine how to provide the one-quarter credit of financial literacy requirement rather than mandating it as a stand-alone personal finance course, Illinois does not receive an “A.” In order to receive an “A,” this requirement should be increased and mandated as a stand-alone course.