This past September the State Board of Education approved revised personal finance standards for Missouri public schools. Missouri is one of only 17 states that require personal finance coursework in high school. This was the first review of the state’s personal finance standards since 2006.
“Financial literacy is a vital component in the education of Missouri students,” said then-Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “We are committed to ensuring all high school graduates are prepared for life, and personal finance courses can help them reach that goal.”
Vandeven was since dismissed after Gov. Eric Greitens made a series of appointments to the state board seeking a board majority that would vote to remove her.
The State Board authorized the personal finance work group in June 2016, and the group met for the first time in December that year. The group consisted of classroom personal finance teachers, school administrators; representatives from higher education, financial institutions, and small business; the Federal Reserve Bank, parents and other interested individuals.
“Everyone was so enthusiastic and ready to share that it was obvious from the first meeting that the group would be dynamic,” said Patricia Palmer, a curriculum consultant in the Office of Financial Literary at the University of Missouri Kansas City, who chaired the standards work group. “It has been quite a journey and worthy of every minute for the sake of our youth.”
The standards specify levels of attainment for high school students in the areas of financial decision making, earning income, buying goods and services, saving, using credit, protecting and insuring, and financial investing. Each area builds on the previous areas as students move through the course.
The movement toward personal finance courses in Missouri public schools began as a grassroots effort by financial leaders around the state to ensure that Missourians have a better understanding of their personal finances. A half-credit of personal finance is required for Missouri students to graduate.
Missouri school districts will develop their own curriculum to teach the revised standards, which will be implemented in the 2018-19 school year. Assessments on the standards will begin in the 2019-20 school year.