How To Achieve the Gold Standard: What I learned from reading 11 success stories

Mar 05, 2020

Gold Standard in finance education: a one semester personal finance course that ALL students will take before crossing the graduation stage.

I hope that you have been enjoying the weekly posts from Gold Standard Challenge grantees describing their journeys. I re-read them this morning looking for patterns to see what common threads led to their success. On then one hand, every journey is unique just as every individual and every school environment is. However, upon further examination, there are some commonalities for those beginning or in the midst of their journeys. 

Here were my main takeaways; 

  • There are many different paths and time frames to achieve this “Gold Standard” goal driven by differences in school culture, leadership models and operating policies; process mapping the steps can be helpful. 
    • Some teachers led the process from building a coalition to making the board pitch while others had a supportive principal who drove that process. 
    • Having an administrator drive the process can shortens the time frame significantly. Fastest time to adoption: 6 weeks (Fiedorczyk)
  • Having one administrator or board member in your corner accelerates your approach to the board and ultimately your success (Hatfield, Clement and Angelicola-Manzolli)
  • Business leaders/Advisory councils are an often overlooked but influential stakeholder as they often have the ear of the superintendent and ties to school boards
    • Gathered testimonials from local business leaders (Hatfield)
    • The most popular point of discussion in the Vocational Council very quickly became the significance of personal finance instruction (Clement)
  • Do the necessary work to make the strongest case
    • Use resources on NGPF Advocacy page to build the case and develop a board presentation (Main)
    • Have a detailed course map ready to share with your curriculum director 
  • A change in state, district or school requirements often creates an opportunity. 
    • District initiative to build STEM skills among graduates opened the door for personal finance (Angelicola-Manzolli
    • Required Computer Apps course was being eliminated (Comparato)
    • Replaced Economics requirement which had a few units of personal finance with a dedicated semester long personal finance course (Wiese)
  • A change in leadership with turnover in principals, board members or superintendents presents an opportunity as they look to develop a plan for their tenure.
    • New administration willing to work with scheduling issues  (Jones) 
    • New principal (Comparato) 
  • Take advantage of PD opportunities to continue to collaborate and be inspired by peers, and to ensure your course stays up-to-date and relevant.  
    • Almost all of the grantees indicated that attending PD fueled their passion to want to do more (Many)
    • Invite your district curriculum specialist and/or departmental colleagues to conferences/external PD sessions (Clement)
  • There are many stakeholders with an interest in increasing access to finance education so be sure to tap them. 
    • Stakeholders included current students, parents, principals, superintendents, boards, business leaders, district curriculum directors, colleagues/peers and school improvement team
    • Some created broad coalitions while others benefited from a supportive principal which mitigated the need to build broad support and shortened the time required to get this requirement through "the system." 
  • A $10,000 Gold Standard Challenge grant can be an effective catalyst for change. 
    • Presented to the board to get their approval to apply for the grant and then again when she had received conditional approval for the grant (Main)
    • Many of the grantees mentioned this became a very effective way to ask for a meeting with principal, board member, curriculum director or superintendent
  • Student voice can be a powerful one. 
    • Many cited their current students and past students as excellent advocates for increasing access to financial education. 

Here are the blog posts that I reviewed with links for you to go in depth. 

To date, NGPF has provided $10,000 grants to 29 Gold Standard Challenge grantees

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.