When it comes to expanding financial literacy at the high school level, the gold standard is a state requirement of a standalone personal financial literacy class that must be passed for a student to graduate. Unfortunately, only a handful of states have met this standard. Others have made progress toward it, such as Texas requiring that a Personal Financial Literacy class be offered by high schools. However, the Personal Financial Literacy classes in Texas and Florida are electives rather than required courses, meaning students do not have to take them. And many students may overlook these invaluable classes in their pursuit of academic excellence because they are not academically weighted like Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
Dual Credit Personal Financial Literacy Expands Options for Attracting Highly-Motivated Students
One misconception may be that AP-track high school students do not need Personal Financial Literacy classes, with people assuming that such students have financially-savvy parents who will help guide them when necessary. However, many AP students come from low-income families, and even upper-income families may not be financially savvy or have parents willing and able to teach their children about financial literacy. Therefore, it is important to try to reach even upper-income, AP-track students with Personal Financial Literacy courses as well. One tool for attracting them in states that do not mandate taking such a course for high school graduation is through dual credit courses. These courses offer college credit for completing an advanced-level high school class taught by a teacher who is affiliated with a local community college or university.
In Jamestown, New York, high school students can earn dual credit through SUNY (State University of New York) by taking BUSI 1610: Personal Finance. While students at Jamestown High School attend class in person, some colleges and universities allow high school students to take dual credit classes remotely. As a result of the recent Covid pandemic, more colleges and universities are offering remote dual credit courses, either synchronously or asynchronously. Synchronous classes are taught on high school campuses at the same time the course is taught on the college campus, with high school juniors and seniors using teleconferencing to experience the material at the same time as their college-age classmates. Asynchronous classes are taught primarily through learning management systems (LMS) that deliver content and assignments through an online portal.
Fortunately, many individual colleges offer Personal Finance as a dual credit class that can be taken remotely. Some of these colleges are looking to partner with high schools to open entire dual credit classes instead of just having individual students work independently. States should look for ways to expand access to these types of courses so that all students can receive college credit while learning such important real-life material. The option to earn college credit would reduce complaints that adding Personal Financial Literacy to the required curriculum would reduce the GPAs of students who primarily take advanced classes that are more heavily weighted on the GPA scale.
Requirements for Offering Dual Credit at a High School
While state laws differ, a general requirement for offering an existing high school class as a dual credit course through a local college or university is that the classroom teacher has a Master’s degree that includes 18 credit hours in the subject to be taught. The affiliated college or university must approve the teacher, who is expected to follow certain college rules and guidelines. Finally, the high school class must be the same as a class offered at the college. Personal Finance is typically classified as a BUSI (business) course, so interested high school students should check to see if their local community college has a BUSI course listed as Personal Finance or Personal Financial Literacy.