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Periodically, the HSFPP commissions third-party evaluators to assess how well its curriculum is meeting the needs of teachers and students. The Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati conducted the latest evaluation over the 2016-2017 school year.
In addition to assessing the HSFPP, this evaluation is a snapshot of teen financial education as a whole — and offers insight into how schools can create the ideal climate for improving students’ financial capability.
This evaluation confirms that financial education increases teens’ confidence, knowledge and skills. Whether it is the HSFPP or another program, positive gains in financial education appear to be linked to a number of factors, including whether or not it is required by the school district.
Financial education requirements. Students in districts that require financial education display higher financial capability.
Access to financial products. Having checking, savings and investment accounts of their own improves student performance.
Increased financial responsibility with age. High school seniors significantly outperform younger students, indicating the teen years are a key growth period for financial capability.
Longer programs. Students in financial education programs lasting seven weeks or longer had better outcomes than those lasting one to three or four to six weeks.
Although students receiving any type of financial education benefit over those who do not, students receiving financial education based predominately on the HSFPP outpace those learning from other curricula and resources in positive behavior formation and confidence.
The HSFPP is reaching students that other programs miss. Teachers in districts with no financial education requirement are more likely to use the HSFPP than those in districts with a partial or full requirement.
HSFPP students have greater average gains in confidence. Students report having money management conversations with family and friends based on what they learned from the HSFPP.
HSFPP students are better at demonstrating and forming positive behaviors. Students report developing money management plans, opening savings accounts and paying more attention to spending habits as a result of the HSFPP.
Financial educators, researchers and practitioners have learned that, despite optimum conditions, any type of financial education based on knowledge and literacy will fade over time — but programs that create behavior change have long-lasting effects.
This study shows how the HSFPP’s plan-driven, competency-based approach is making a difference in long-term financial capability. The HSFPP doesn’t just teach information or show students how to manage a financial task — it guides them as they do it for themselves so they can apply it to their own lives and return in the future to do it again successfully. As a result, HSFPP students are better at demonstrating and forming positive behaviors than those who have taken alternative financial education courses. HSFPP students also had greater average gains in confidence than those from other programs.
The HSFPP treatment group consisted of 42 teachers and 1,700 students who used the HSFPP materials for 75 percent or more of their financial education program. The “other programs” group contained 51 teachers and 2,800 students who also received financial education but used the HSFPP for 25 percent or less. Students who received no financial education were omitted in this analysis. It would be expected that students receiving any financial instruction would outperform those who received none.
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