Workshop Helps Iowa Educators Build Financial Literacy Skills in Students



AMES, Iowa – As Iowa students begin a new school year, many can look forward to developing better financial literacy skills along with their more traditional subjects. That’s because their teachers, who were trained in the Family Economics and Financial Education (FEFE) curriculum in July, are better equipped and confident to teach them what they need to know about financial literacy.

“There is a demand for financial literacy training among teachers and school counselors,” said Iowa State University Professor and Extension Specialist Cynthia Needles Fletcher. “The FEFE curriculum training gives teachers the tools and confidence to teach financial literacy skills to students.”

This is the second year Iowa State offered the three-day workshop, which filled to capacity and had additional educators on a waiting list. The trainings centered on the semester-long middle and high school FEFE curriculum that is supported by the faculty and staff at the Take Charge America Institute for Consumer Financial Education and Research at the University of Arizona. The workshop featured hands-on activities and keynote presentations by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission staff; Craig Goettsch, director of investor education and securities counsel with the Iowa Insurance Division; and Jeanne Hogarth, manager of the Consumer Education and Research Division, Federal Reserve Board.

The keynote presentations focused on three current issues, Fletcher said:

  • Financial fraud and identity theft
  • Career preparation and the link to financial decisions
  • New federal consumer protection rules

“I’ve taught high school for 26 years and nearly all staff development has a focus on theory and little else,” said Ted Banning, a business teacher for the Albia Community School District. “It was refreshing to be exposed to materials that demonstrate a theory already taken into practice. It was information created by educators at Arizona to share with educators around the United States, without any agenda-driven distractions.”

As Iowa implements the Iowa 21st Century Skills, the new Core Curriculum requires Iowa schools to teach financial literacy skills to K-12 students, beginning with grades 9-12 by the 2012-2013 school year, Fletcher said.

“In the past, I found from both personal and professional perspectives that teachers receive little formal education in finance,” said Kathy Paul, a family and consumer sciences teacher from North Sentral Kossuth High School. “Many teachers are not confident with all of the concepts of financial literacy and rely on personal experiences to teach their students. This curriculum gives teachers like myself the knowledge, which turns into confidence to teach students relevant financial literacy skills.”

The long-term goal of this workshop is to prepare students to make wise financial decisions in an increasingly complex environment, Fletcher said.

“With our current economic issues, this is a prime time to teach the value of money and how poor credit decisions can adversely affect your life almost forever, or at least, for many years,” said David Wendt, a school counselor at Keokuk High School.

ISU Extension and Outreach and the College of Human Sciences partnered with the Iowa College Student Aid Commission and the Iowa Insurance Division to offer the training.

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Note: The teachers in the picture are playing the Jenga® game to reinforce family finance concepts and vocabulary.