In many aspects of life, America seems to advance faster than most countries. Everything from technology to food trends launch right here in the United States. But one of the most important pieces of knowledge a young person can have is lacking on the home front in comparison to other countries. A recent study has shown that American teenagers are significantly behind compared to their global peers when it comes to financial literacy. These results raise serious questions. Not only about America’s education system but also society’s role in teaching the important lessons of finance.
An assessment conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), displayed the gap in financial literacy between students in the U.S. versus those in China and Russia. By using a test (called PISA) researchers determined that one in five U.S. students “failed to meet the level to be considered financially literate.” On the contrary, only one in ten Chinese and Russian students failed to make the passing grade.
The main reason these results exist, is due to the fact that the American mathematics curriculum has changed minimally in the past 200 years. One factor includes the fact that math becomes broken down by subjects (geometry and trigonometry) and are not taught as a whole. Other countries consider this method as a waste of time and resources. According to the education director of the OECD, the American school systems should make financial literacy a top priority. As curriculums are always changing in social studies, language arts, and science, many wonder why math has failed to adapt to realistic opportunities.
Ranking seventh out of the fifteen countries that participated in the exam, the United States has some lessons to take away from the results. A demographic breakdown of the results also demonstrated differences in financial literacy between low and high-income homes. There is a multitude of ways to bridge the gap not only around the world but within the U.S. alone. Offering personal finance classes at young ages, can advance a student’s financial knowledge. Many high schools around the country offer such courses as electives. By making them a graduation requirement more students will receive the skills for adulthood.
Upon the deliverance of these results, it is time for the education systems to make changes. Financial literacy is one of the most important skill sets a person should have. Learning them before graduating from high school sets young people up for a more successful real world experience. After seeing the results collected by OECD, educators, parents, and mentors alike must come together. Let’s set students up for the successful financial future they deserve.
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