Financial Literacy Lacking In Wyoming Schools

Oct 28, 2015

Credit Flickr Creative Commons via Jacob Edward

Wyoming does not do a great job teaching students how to manage their money, according to an annual report card released this month by Champlain College’s Center for Financial Literacy.

Wyoming earned a ‘D’ grade on its efforts to produce high school graduates with financial literacy skills. Wyoming does not require any specific personal finance classes for graduation and the state’s content standards don’t address the area much either.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow says, while some schools offer helpful instruction, Wyoming deserves its low marks overall.

“Financial literacy is kind of scattered,” says Balow. “There are some pockets of really good financial literacy programs delivered to some students in the state. And there are other kids who don’t get any, and that’s unfortunate. And we deserve a score of ‘D’, maybe even ‘F’ in financial literacy.”

About one-third of states scored a ‘D’ or ‘F’ on the annual report.

The Wyoming Department of Education recently surveyed school districts on what personal finance programs they offer and is analyzing the results. Balow says she and State Treasurer Mark Gordon are working together to improve financial literacy education in Wyoming’s K-12 schools.

“It’s egregious that we do not have a mechanism to equip all students with financial literacy,” says Balow. “It’s something that’s been on my mind since day one. The treasurer and I have taken a look at other state policies. We’ve talked to other states about programs they’ve put in place.”

In November, Gordon will make a presentation to school district superintendents and offer each a personal finance study guide students could use.

Any statewide improvements to get Wyoming up to grade would require changing state standards or graduation requirements, Balow says.

She says the state should consider partnering with private financial institutions or non-profits to help bring innovative money management lessons into schools.