We believe financial education should be included in school curricula in every state, in every district. The reality, however, is that states vary greatly in what financial literacy concepts, lessons, and classes are required across K-12.
Many states have formalized financial education standards, but far fewer actually require students to earn financial education credits for graduation. Having standards in place is a step in the right direction, providing guidance to school districts and educators on what financial concepts should be included in the broader curricula. Typically, it is up to districts on how best to implement standards, creating variability from one school to the next, one state to the next.
Employing financial education best practices and continual evaluation and refinement of its programming, Financial Beginnings hopes to help educators bring to their students consistent and impact-driven lessons, regardless of standards.
California does not currently have in place graduation requirements that include personal finance concepts or classes. Students are not required to take a stand-alone course, and they are not required to be exposed to financial lessons as part of another course.
Although California schools are not required to offer financial literacy coursework, students must take a semester of economics, which depending on the educator, may include some broader financial lessons. The California State Board of Education (BOE) has also adopted a number of content standards beyond financial education designed to encourage high scholastic achievement. California school administrators are provided curriculum frameworks to help them implement BOE standards. Although economics and mathematics frameworks include financial literacy content, local school districts are not required to use them.
Although few requirements or mandated standards currently exist in California, the state does recognize the value of personal finance education. Legislation has been passed that requires or requests financial education content be included in future revisions of textbooks. State high schools are not subject to textbook mandates, but K-8 schools are. Therefore, new updates of certain elementary and middle school textbooks should include personal finance content. The California Department of Education also offers educators a robust directory of financial literacy resources, including Financial Beginnings!