SUMMARY OF GRADE
Significant Accomplishments: Endorsed Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy; requires consumer education to be offered in high schools
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
The Rhode Island Board of Education Act, since 1979, mandates that “school districts shall provide for pupils in the public schools in grades eight through twelve to be taught and be required to study courses which include instruction in consumer education.” After introduction at the request of RI Treasurer Seth Magaziner in 2021, legislation was passed that requires the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, in consultation with the RI Department of Education, to develop and approve statewide academic standards for the instruction of consumer education in public high schools. The bill goes on to state that “by the start of the 2022-2023 school year, the school committees of the several cities, towns, and local education agencies (“LEAs”) shall ensure that public high schools offer a course that includes instruction in consumer education, that is aligned with the statewide standards…(and that) beginning with the graduating class of 2024, all students shall demonstrate proficiency in consumer education prior to graduating high school. ”
The legislation above only ensures personal finance standards in grades 9-12. In 2014, the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education endorsed the Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy. However, “the decision as to whether to offer courses in financial literacy, whether to require that students take these courses, and how you proceed with these courses in our schools remains a local decision.” The Council for Economic Education’s National Standards for Financial Literacy does have benchmarks for the end of Grades 4 and 8. Since these standards are not required by the state, they do not ensure students receive financial literacy instruction in their K-8 curriculum.
While Rhode Island recently added consumer education standards, which include personal finance concepts, as a required high school offering, it still does not guarantee any financial literacy instruction for Grades K-8 and therefore receives a “D.” Rhode Island should require high school students to study financial literacy through a stand-alone course and create grade-specific standards for Grades K-8 in order to improve their grade.