CA Teachers Support Financial Literacy Education

June 15, 2010 ( – The majority of teachers in California support financial literacy education in the K-12 curriculum, and they seem ready to deliver.

A survey report by Dan Otter, Director of Pollinate, the Teacher Financial Literacy Project and Owner of 403(b)wise, says close to 80% of respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement “I support efforts to include financial literacy in the curriculum.”   

A majority of teachers (65%) believe that financial literacy instruction should begin in elementary school (defined as grades K–6), with most respondents choosing kindergarten and sixth grade as the grade levels most suitable for beginning instruction.  

Respondents believe the best way to deliver personal finance instruction is through both a stand-alone course and embedding concepts in other courses. The courses identified as best suited toembed personal finance curriculum were math (61%) and social studies (26%).  

Lack of time, lack of state requirement, and lack of suitable curriculum were identified as the top challenges to teaching personal finance concepts. Only 9% of respondents indicated that there would be no major “challenges” to teaching personal finance.  

More teachers in the survey felt confident about their understanding of personal finance concepts than did not. While 42% of teachers indicated they were “not at all confident” or “somewhat confident” in their understanding of personal finance concepts, 47% described themselves as “confident” or “very confident.”  

Survey participants were given an option to take a four-question personal finance quiz, and close to 70% of respondents agreed to take the quiz. Each of the first three questions measured one core personal finance concept (compound interest, inflation, and risk diversification, respectively).   

An identical percentage of teachers (94%) answered the first two questions correctly, while 88% of teachers answered the third question correctly. The fourth question measured understanding of asset pricing, and less than half (46%) of teachers answered this question correctly. Eighty-three percent of teachers answered the first three questions correctly, while 42% answered all four questions correctly.  

Respondents expressed interest in a professional development workshop that also seeks to increase teacher financial literacy. While 45% of teachers were “interested” or “very interested” in a workshop that seeks to improve their ability to teach personal finance concepts, 55% indicated they were “interested” or “very interested” in a professional development experience that seeks to also improve their understanding of financial concepts.  

The population consisted of 2,776 California classroom teachers from across the state: 1,077 K–5 teachers (39%); 573 middle school teachers (21%); and 1,126 high school teachers (40%).  

Otter stressed in the report that it is important not only to include teachers in the curriculum development and implementation process but also to ensure that teachers possess sufficient knowledge to effectively deliver curriculum.  

The report is here.