VALLEY FORGE, PA (September 21, 2016) — Students participating in My Classroom Economy (MCE) show consistent gains in financial knowledge, budgeting behavior, financial socialization, and economic experience1, according to the results of a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security (CFS), with funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury, and in partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County Florida.
The study also shows the My Classroom Economy approach is appealing to teachers because it is easily integrated into the school day, helps minimize time away from core learning requirements, and does not require extensive teacher training. The results highlight the promise of financial learning programs for elementary school–age students.
The survey measured outcomes related to financial knowledge, budgeting, planning, self-control, financial socialization, and economic experience. Specifically, the MCE students showed an increase of: 5% in financial knowledge, 9% in budgeting, 5% in financial socialization, and 11% in economic experience. Parents of students in MCE classrooms were more likely to report that their child has a bank account in his or her name and makes his or her own money decisions. Nearly all (95%) of teachers surveyed plan to continue using MCE.
MCE is an innovative method for teaching elementary school students the fundamentals of financial decision-making and responsibility. The free K-12 classroom program was designed by Vanguard in partnership with educators and is experiential, in contrast with more traditional financial education programs based around lesson plans. Students participate in a classroom economic system and learn the importance of earning, saving and delaying gratification. The program has reached more than half a million students nationwide since its launch in 2011.
For the study, CFS surveyed students, parents, and teachers in Palm Beach County, Florida, the 12th-largest school district in the country with 175,000 students.2 Nearly 2,000 students in 115 3rd to 5th grade classrooms participated, which makes this study unique because previous financial literacy research has largely focused on the high-school level. Additionally, the Florida Department of Education has new financial literacy standards and increased requirements for hours of financial education instruction, which gave researchers the opportunity to study the program in an environment with more rigorous standards. The school district was also chosen for its size and diverse socioeconomic population.
The study was funded through The Treasury Department’s Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund which supports the development, testing, and evaluation of new products and services that make safe and affordable financial services available to more Americans and that help young people become savvy consumers of financial services.
The UW CFS will host a special webinar to announce the evaluation findings and discuss the research from noon-1:00 p.m. CST on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. Click here to register and here for the full survey results.
1 After ten weeks in the program.
2 Source: National Center for Education Statistics
About the partners
Vanguard is one of the world’s largest investment management companies. As of August 31, 2016, Vanguard managed more than $3.8 trillion in global assets. The firm, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, offers more than 350 funds to its more than 20 million investors worldwide. For more information, visit www.vanguard.com. For more information about My Classroom Economy, visit www.myclassroomeconomy.org.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Financial Security specializes in research evaluation, project implementation, as well as outreach and education on strategies that help individuals to build financial capabilities and security over their lifetimes. For more information, visit https://cfs.wisc.edu.
The evaluation was funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Empowerment Innovation Fund. The Treasury Department’s Office of Consumer Policy administers the Fund to support the development, testing and evaluation of new strategies to promote access to financial services and improve the financial capability of American Families. For more information, visit www.treasury.gov.