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Progress uneven across personal finance, economics education in U.S.

Financial EducationA recent study by the Council on Economic Education found that while progress has been made in expanding financial education efforts, progress has not been even across economics and personal finance education.

The study, which examined K-12 economic and financial education in the U.S., showed that while all 50 states require economics curriculum in K-12 education, only 24 states—one less than in 2011—require a high school course on economics to be offered.

“Economics education is about much more than money; it provides students with a framework for making good decisions that will help them and the country,” Alan B. Krueger, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, said in the report.

The study also revealed that as the number of states that require a high school economics course has increased, so has the number of students taking economics.

In 2005, only 14 states required high school economics for graduation, and less than one-third of students took the courses. In 2009, however, 21 states required a high school economics course, and more than 40 percent of high school graduates studied economics.

Personal finance, according to the study, has taken a backseat to economics education. Only 43 states in the U.S.—three less than in 2011—require K-12 personal finance education.

States that do not require personal finance curriculum are Rhode Island, New York, Illinois, Alaska, Hawaii, California and New Mexico.

Additionally, only 19 states require high schools to offer courses in personal finance, and just 17 require a personal finance course to be taken in order to graduate. Only six U.S. states require testing of student knowledge in personal finance.

“Recent economic challenges have highlighted the importance of teaching our kids to understand personal finance,” Richard D. Fairbank, the founder, chairman and CEO of Capital One, said in the report. “The day-to-day relevance of economic concepts and financial responsibility will only continue to increase as the world is rapidly transformed by science and technology. Providing students with the practical tools they need to apply that knowledge will help them succeed financially by creating businesses, driving innovation and achieving personal dreams.”

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