Students need familiarity with finances

Studies have shown that many US high school students lack basic knowledge when it comes to personal finance.

And according to a recent study by the Washington-based JumpStart Coalition, the situation may be getting worse.

Earlier this year, the group tested high school seniors about such topics as paying taxes, credit cards, and saving for retirement. They received a failing grade of 51.9 percent. In 1997, 12th graders scored 57.3 percent on a similar test.

Dara Duguay, executive director of the JumpStart Coalition, points to a lack of personal-finance courses in schools to explain the declining scores.

"Schools everywhere have been put under intense pressure to perform well on [standardized] examinations," Ms. Duguay says. "As a result, teachers have created lesson plans that focus heavily on concepts and topics to be covered by the examinations - leaving little time in the classroom for anything else."

Lewis Mandell, researcher of the JumpStart study and dean of the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Management, feels the problem may be attributed to lack of hands-on participation for students.

"Personal finance is ... a skill that students learn when given an opportunity to apply concepts and practices," he says.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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