NGPF Got Finance? Survey: 4 out of 5 Teachers Seeing Enrollment Gains in their Personal Finance Elective Classes

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Oct 21, 2019
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Advocacy, Survey Results

Background: Earlier this year, NGPF released its Access to Financial Education report which reviewed over 10,000 public high school course catalogs and found that 1 in 6 students attend a school that ensures every student graduates having taken a semester-long personal finance course. 

NGPF’s Got Finance? Survey received responses from 1,466 teachers in its network in September/October of 2019. The survey sought to understand enrollment trends in personal finance education in high schools across the United States. The summary data provided below indicates dramatic growth in enrollment in elective personal finance courses. 

Highlights

  • Of the respondents to NGPF's Got Finance? Survey, 459 were high school educators who teach personal finance as an elective.
  •  Of those who responded:
    • 58% indicated that MORE students were enrolled in personal finance classes at their school (median increase of 25%)
    • 17% indicated that FEWER students were enrolled in personal finance classes at their school (median decrease of 20%)
    • 24% did not know whether there was an increase or decrease
  • In terms of trends, it’s certainly very positive that 77% of teachers saw an increase in enrollment in their personal finance course, while 23% reported a decline. 
  • The reasons for these increases stem from many factors that begin and end with teachers. Confident and highly qualified teachers delivering a quality curriculum to students begin this virtuous cycle. These students immediately see the value of the course,  then rave about it to anyone who will listen (fellow students, parents, admins and guidance counselors). This increased demand leads to the opening up of additional sections of the course. 

Reasons for Increases in Enrollment

There were myriad drivers behind the growth in enrollment in personal finance electives, including:

  • Better marketing of the course
    • A name change for the course from Personal Finance to Career and Financial Management”
    • “More students interested in the updated description in the class catalog.”
  • Advocating to parents
    • “Advocating directly to parents by establishing a parent newsletter.”
  • Schedule changes
    • “I asked for the master schedule to be changed so more students could take it.”
  • Dual credit with community college
    • “Course is being offered as a dual credit class with a partnership with local Community College.”
  • Awesome teaching
    • “The increase is due to the teacher responsible for the standalone.  Students love him and he's really engaging.”
  • Student word of mouth
    • “The increase in enrollment is from word of mouth from other students. They share how beneficial this course is and how valuable the information is that they learn.”
  • Alternative math course for students
    • “Used as an alternative to Algebra II and as an elective that a lot of parents wanted. I have 2 classes and they are at capacity. School is talking about increasing amount of personal finance next year because of demand.”
    • “Math requirements changed to allow PF to count as a third year math credit.”
  • Availability of turnkey curriculum
    • “I started teaching the course so it is new to our school. Thanks to NGPF I have the resources to finally be able to offer this course.”
  • Addition of higher level (or Honors) course
    • “We added a Personal Finance 2 (second level) course for more in-depth material.”
  • Student marketing
    • “Students from last year went to 11th grade English classes and did a 5 minute presentation on what the class was all about, what they learned, and why it is so important to learn the curriculum for the real world.”
  • Teacher advocacy
    • “I asked my administration to allow me to add a personal finance elective, and they agreed.”
  • Supportive administration and guidance counselors
    • “Shared view between administration and educators that it is needed.”
    • “Our business department is very passionate about teaching financial literacy to our student body. We have met with administration and counselors to gain their support in having students sign up for our personal finance class. Also, we do a lot of advertising when it's time for students to pick classes for the next school year.”
  • Change in CTE Pathways
    • “We changed our CTE pathways.  We only had one section of it last year and this year we offer around 16 sections of it.”

Reasons for Decline in Enrollment

  • Legislation in Florida
    • “Florida took Fin Lit out of the Econ requirement class and made it a stand alone Elective, so now instead of all students taking  Fin Lit, only a small portion do. The Econ requirement should be replaced with the Fin Lit as a requirement instead.”
  • Budget cuts
    • “Need to get my administration and math dept head on board.  Counseling dept feels we should have more than one section. Due to budget cuts that class was the first to go.”
  • Support from school board/admin
    • “School board/District admin to value financial education. 28 years ago when I started teaching we had 5 full time Business teachers.  Now I am the only one and that being only only 2 "business" courses; Personal Finance in the Fall and "Intro to business" in the Spring...sad.”
  • Lack of support from guidance counselors
    • “Scheduling of students into the class. Our counsellors are reluctant to convince students of the overwhelming value of this course for some reason.”
  • Emphasis on A.P. courses rather than electives
    • “More push for students to take the elective course.  I feel like our school pushes AP classes most and electives do not get as much attention.”
  • Scheduling issue
    • “Really it is just a scheduling issue, if this course was required for graduation I am sure it would not be an issue. I also said that because I had 75-90 kids say they wanted it. Next semester I will be teaching about 40 students. It is well received by the students and parents, just not sure how to make it a graduation requirement.”

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Passionate about financial education? Apply for NGPF's Gold Standard Challenge with opportunity to earn a $10,000 grant and a trip to San Francisco for the Changemakers Summit. Applicaation deadline is November 1st and details here. 

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.