SUMMARY OF GRADE
Significant Accomplishments: Financial literacy standards in most K-12 standards; Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy; Economic Education/Financial Literacy webpage; K-12 financial literacy model curriculum
Needs Improvement: Needs to require high school stand-alone personal finance course
AN IN-DEPTH LOOK
Pennsylvania does not have any personal finance course or standards requirements for high school graduation. As of 2016, only 15% of Pennsylvania school districts required a stand-alone course in personal finance for high school graduation.
Pennsylvania has State Academic Standards for 12 subject areas for Grades 3, 5, 8, and 12 as well as Early Learning Standards for Grades K, 1, and 2. There are some personal finance concepts in the State Academic Standards guides for Economics, Family and Computer Sciences, Business, Computer, and Information Technology, and Career Education and Work. There are also some personal finance standards in the Social Studies section of each Early Learning Standards guide, K-2. In Pennsylvania, standards “must be used as the basis for curriculum and instruction.”
2010 Public Law 996, No. 104 (House Bill 101) created the Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy to “make recommendations… to improve economic education and personal financial literacy.” In the following 2012 Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education Report and Recommendations, the first two recommendations were to “require every Pennsylvania high school student to complete a stand-alone capstone course on personal finance in order to graduate” and to “adopt comprehensive, stand-alone Pennsylvania K-12 academic standards devoted to personal finance.” No direct action was taken on the recommendations, and the Departments of Education and Banking and Securities still release similar reports following the disbandment of the taskforce.
2010 Public Law 996, No. 104 also requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education to “provide resource information on economics, economic education and personal financial literacy to educators and public and private schools and organizations” and “provide for the distribution” of “teacher curriculum materials and other available resources.” The Department has an Economic Education/Financial Literacy webpage dedicated to these purposes. There is also A Model Curriculum for Pennsylvania Financial Education Programs available which aligns to personal finance concepts and standards from Grades PK-12. At the time of publication, a bill requiring a half credit personal finance course had passed the Senate and was pending in the House Education Committee.
Pennsylvania receives a “B” for providing some financial literacy instruction through standards and model curriculum. If Pennsylvania legislates the recommendations of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy, to require a stand-alone personal finance course for high school graduation,, it would raise its grade to an “A.”