SUMMARY OF GRADE
Significant Accomplishments: Financial literacy standards in most K-12 standards; Personal Financial Literacy in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks; Financial Literacy Pilot Program
Needs Improvement: Needs to require high school stand-alone personal finance course and implement grade-specific K-8 financial literacy standards
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK
There is currently no financial literacy specific high school graduation requirement in Massachusetts. However, signed by the governor in January 2019, Chapter 438 (Senate Bill No. 2374) requires that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education establish Financial Literacy standards that “promote an understanding of personal finances,” and schools “may incorporate the personal financial literacy standards… into existing mathematics, social sciences, technology, business or other curricula.” The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released Personal Financial Literacy in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks: Aligned to Key Topics in Chapter 438 of the Acts of 2018, which lists the current standards from the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that are associated with the specific financial literacy topics addressed in Chapter 438. However, these standards do not adequately cover all grades kindergarten through 12. Massachusetts should update their standards so that there are specific personal finance standards for each grade, K-12. Massachusetts does provide a resource guide aligned to the curriculum framework broken down by grade and availability of professional development.
In addition, in July 2012, the Massachusetts State Legislature established a three-year Financial Literacy Pilot program, to be implemented in 11 high schools in ten Gateway Cities. The grant program was designed to “equip high school students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become self-supporting and make critical decisions regarding personal finances.” Each pilot school implemented a diverse financial literacy program model. The program’s research found that the majority of students who participated showed gains in financial literacy.
Massachusetts receives a “C” in financial literacy instruction, as it provides some instruction through its financial literacy curriculum framework standards. In order to raise its grade, Massachusetts must create grade-specific standards for each grade as well as utilize the models from the Financial Literacy Pilot Program to require a stand-alone personal finance course for high school graduation.