In 2012, The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy exam was given to about 29,000 15-year-olds in 18 countries and economies. An analysis of results by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that US students ranked 8th (tied with Latvia, although the US students scored a few points below their Latvian counterparts and just below the mean score for all countries.)
Students from Shanghai, Estonia and the Flemish Community of Belgium led the pack, while Italy and Colombias scores trailed at the bottom.
A closer look at the US results revealed a number of useful insights into students’ understanding of financial knowledge and skills.
- More than one in six students in the United States 17.8% compared with 15.3% across OECD countries does not reach the baseline level of proficiency in financial literacy.
- About one in ten students in the United States is a top performer (9.4%, similar to the average of 9.7% across OECD countries).
- Financial literacy is strongly correlated with mathematics and reading performance. Around 80% of the financial literacy score reflects skills that can be measured in mathematics and/or reading assessments, while 20% of the score reflects factors that are uniquely captured by the financial literacy assessment.
- Students in the United States perform as expected in financial literacy, based on their performance in mathematics and reading.
In Ohio, financial literacy is a required component of high school curriculum, but there is no formally prescribed course of study. According to the Ohio Department of Education’s website, schools are expected to teach as part of the Social Studies Academic Content Standards:
- the relationship of income level to supply and demand in the market;
- roles of people in the economy;
- consequences of choices affecting budgets, savings, credit, philanthropy and investments; and
- the effect of interest rates on savers and borrowers.