Treasury and Education Recognize High Scoring Students in National Financial Capability Challenge: Average Score 70 Percent among 76,000 Participating Students in All 50 States
WASHINGTON -- Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Department of Education recognized high scoring students in the National Financial Capability Challenge. The Challenge, which was unveiled in December 2009 by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is designed to increase the financial knowledge and capability of high school aged youth across the United States. To honor the outstanding achievement of many of the participating students, Treasury and Education hosted an event at the Treasury in which select students in the top scoring bracket were recognized by Secretaries Geithner and Duncan.
While more than 76,000 high school students and 2,500 educators from across the country participated in the Challenge this spring, scores on the exam were generally low. Challenge participants scored 70 percent on average, demonstrating that students are not yet making the grade when it comes to understanding how to manage money.
"As we work to reform our financial system to better protect American families, we must also work to provide young adults the education, tools and access they need to make smart decisions for their own financial security," said Secretary Geithner.
"I'm so proud that so many teachers turned out to help teach students the basics of personal finance," said Secretary Duncan. "But the low scores on these test show us that, when it comes to financial literacy, we've got a lot more work to do to get our students where they need to be," Duncan continued. "I hope teachers, school leaders, and local officials will work together to make financial literacy a priority in every school district in America."
Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming had the highest average test scores while Virginia, Iowa and Wisconsin boasted the highest student participation rates. The greatest number of participating schools and teachers came from Pennsylvania.
To build on the progress made with this year's Challenge, Secretaries Geithner and Duncan set a goal of increasing student participation by 15 percent next year. Recognizing that participation averaged only one teacher per school, they urged this year's participating educators to become ambassadors for financial education and challenged each of them to recruit additional teachers to participate next year. They also committed to tracking and recognizing year-to-year improvements in performance among participating schools.
Terri Carson, a teacher at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, VA – where she helps students manage the in-school credit union and includes a "financial literacy boot camp" in all her classes – administered the Challenge to more than 100 students: "To be successful in life, people must know how to effectively manage their money," Carson said. "Schools need to provide children with personal finance education to help them navigate our very complex economic system. My students will use the financial literacy skills that I teach them in my business classes every day of their adult lives."
Earlier this month, President Obama declared April to be National Financial Literacy Month, saying: "Our Nation's future prosperity depends on the financial security of all Americans. This month, let us each take time to improve our own financial knowledge and share that knowledge with our children…I call upon all Americans to observe this month with programs and activities to improve their understanding of financial principles and practices."
In addition to the Challenge being highlighted today, the President included in his Budget request $50 million for Bank on USA, which will promote financial education, broader access to bank accounts, basic credit products, and other financial services to help families meet their financial needs and build savings and solid credit histories. The President's Budget request also includes $265 million for a well-rounded K-12 education, including financial literacy, and $210 million for Promise Neighborhoods, designed to combat the effects of poverty and improve education outcomes from birth through college and career. Financial education and financial access are key components of this new initiative.
About the National Financial Capability Challenge
The National Financial Capability Challenge – announced in December by Treasury Secretary Geithner and Education Secretary Duncan – is designed to promote financial education among high school students across the country. Educators who registered for the Challenge received a free Educator Toolkit to complement their own lesson plans. Some educators taught the material to students before administering the exam, while others used the exam as a pre-test to establish a baseline of knowledge. Most teachers administering the Challenge were the only teachers in their schools to sign up.
Educators and students who scored in the top 20 percent nationally and those who were among the top scorers in their school will receive official award certificates. Additionally, the Charles Schwab Foundation will soon name 20 students, chosen from among the Challenge participants, who will receive $1,000 scholarships. Schwab will also donate $1,000 to the school of each scholarship recipient. Students who scored in the top 20 percent nationally and are from one of the ten states with the highest participation rates in the Challenge are eligible for these scholarships.
For more information about the National Financial Capability Challenge, top scorers by state and aggregated exam results, go to www.challenge.treas.gov.