Survey finds K-12 economic education lacking

June 22, 2018 Staff Writer

Now in its 20th year, the Council for Economic Education’s “Survey of States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools” continues to highlight wide gaps in teaching and learning throughout the U.S.

A 2017 study from the American Psychological Association reveals that money is the second leading source of stress in the United States, and the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety, which financial woes can easily trigger.

Yet, according to the 2018 Survey of States, financial independence may be out of reach for many because K-12 students are not receiving adequate tools and training to make informed financial decisions; only one-third of the states require high school students to take a course in personal finance, while less than half require them to take a course in economics before graduating.

Survey findings indicate that progress has been achieved, yet gains have slowed in recent years. CEE unveiled the full results at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Find the report at

The research shows that students in states that require financial education have higher credit scores as well as more responsible spending habits and are less prone to compulsive shopping, reducing their financial risk greatly. However, 2018 Survey of the States findings reveal:

• The number of states –17 – that require high school students to take a course in personal finance has not changed over the past four years.  

• Since 2016, there has been no change in the number of states that include personal finance in their K-12 standards and require those standards to be taught.

• 22 states require high school students to take a course in economics – less than half the country, but two more states than in 2016.

• There has been no change in the number of states that require standardized testing of economic concepts since 2014.

While California requires economic education in high school, the survey shows it as one of four states where personal finance is not included in state standards.

“When we initiated this survey in 1998, only one state required enrollment in a personal finance course, while 13 states required enrollment in an economics class. So clearly, we’ve made some gains,” said Nan Morrison, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education. “Michigan, Georgia, Utah and Texas are leading the way by requiring personal finance and economics courses to be offered and taken, as well as by implementing state standards and standardized testing.

“However, the majority of U.S. states are failing our students by declining to offer these fundamental courses which are critical to their financial stability and security later in life.”

CEE conducts the Survey of the States: Economic and Personal Finance Education in Our Nation’s Schools every two years. The report collects data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and includes commentary from experts and educators in the field to provide a comprehensive look into the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States. 

The Council for Economic Education focuses on the economic and financial education of students from kindergarten through high school and has been doing so for nearly 70 years. The CEE’s mission is educating the educators: providing the curriculum tools, the pedagogical support, and the community of peers that instruct, inspire and guide.

All resources and programs are developed by educators and delivered by a national network of affiliates. Each year CEE’s programs reach more than 55,000 K-12 teachers and more than 5 million students nationwide.

EconEdLink at is a free, online educator gateway for economic and personal finance lessons and resources that attracts more than 1 million unique visitors annually.

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