Bridging The Financial Literacy Gap: Empowering Teachers To Support The Next Generation via PWC

Introduction

The wealth gap in the United States is threatening Americans’ aspirations for social advancement and equal opportunity. Minorities, women and the least educated have some of the lowest financial literacy rates in the nation, a major concern for businesses that see attracting a more diverse workforce as a business imperative.

Our nation’s teachers are critical to helping curb the gap in financial education. While the responsibility of financial education has traditionally been left to parents and guardians, K-12 educators increasingly view it as a shared responsibility that schools can and should take on, starting in the early grades. Educators see the value of teaching students to budget, prepare for the future and become better financial decision makers. But educators need more support to adequately teach these skills.

Financial literacy gap – What is the state of financial education in the US today?

10 Trends According to Educators:

  1. Teachers don’t feel comfortable teaching financial education. Only 31% feel “completely comfortable;” 51% feel “moderately comfortable” and 18% feel “not comfortable at all.”
  2. Few K-12 teachers incorporate financial education into their classroom. Only 12% address personal finance in their lessons.
  3. Four primary barriers exist. Many teachers lack appropriate curriculum, qualifications, take-home materials, and feel that financial education isn’t seen as a critical skill for college and career readiness.
  4. Teachers want more support. Teachers’ needs include curriculum materials and professional development. Respondents often crave time off and funds to attend related professional development.
  5. Teachers seek resources on their own. Respondents are often not provided with materials they need so they find them in other sources, such as free websites or from other teachers.
  6. Financial education should start earlier. 67% of teachers believe it should start in elementary school.
  7. Teachers worry parents/guardians aren’t doing their part. 65% of teachers feel that it is at least somewhat unlikely that their students are receiving any financial education at home.
  8. Millennials* are champions of financial education. The younger generation of teachers is more likely to think that instruction should come primarily from the classroom.
  9. Millennials are better at seeking funds than their more experienced colleagues. Less experienced teachers are twice as likely to seek money for financial education.
  10. Educators cite tremendous benefits in providing financial education to young people. Kids who receive education earlier are better at budgeting, planning for the future, understanding debt and decision making.

* Teachers born between 1980 and 2000

Teachers still don’t feel comfortable teaching financial education.

  • 18% are not comfortable at all
  • 51% are moderately comfortable
  • 31% are completely comfortable

Teachers are often asked to teach subjects that they are not fully credentialed in. For instance, marketing teachers might be asked to teach personal finance because they have a business background. Educators are also personally struggling with financial concepts, so they expressed a concern with teaching a subject they still don’t fully grasp themselves.

Financial Literacy Gap

Overall, very few teachers incorporate financial education into their classrooms.

While 92% of K-12 educators surveyed nationwide believe financial education should be taught in schools, only 12% do so.

Teachers cite four top barriers to teaching financial education.

Teachers currently teaching financial education cite the following challenges:

  1. A lack of appropriate curriculum (78%)
  2. A lack of qualified teachers (69%)
  3. A lack of financial education materials to share with parents/guardians (68%)
  4. A predominant view that financial education isn’t seen as a critical skill for college and career readiness (62%)

Financial Literacy Gap

Teachers want more support for teaching financial education.

Educators say they need more curriculum, professional development, and funds for financial education than their school currently provides.

Financial Literacy Gap

Many teachers turn to free online resources to teach financial education.

Since teachers are not provided with the resources they need to teach financial education, they often find materials elsewhere:

  • 64% found free supplemental resources online
  • 46% collaborated with other teachers to locate resources and/or develop curriculum
  • 39% had curriculum supplied by the school/district
  • 33% purchased resources with personal funds
  • 12% used grant money to buy resources

 

See the full study here