The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently stressed the importance of this financial literacy after an exam taken by the nation's high school students found that many had substantial room for improvement. The 76,000 participants in the National Financial Capability Challenge scored an average of 70 percent, according to a release from the Treasury.
High school students from all 50 states partook in the challenge, which was launched in December. The highest scoring states were Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming, according to the release, while Virginia, Iowa and Wisconsin had the highest participation rates.
"I'm so proud that so many teachers turned out to help teach students the basics of personal finance," Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "But the low scores on these test show us that, when it comes to financial literacy, we've got a lot more work to do to get our students where they need to be."
Teachers participating in the program received an Educator Toolkit to complement their lessons. Some administered the exam before teaching students about financial literacy, according to the release, while others used it as a gauge for the students' success. The highest scoring students will receive $1,000 scholarships through the Charles Schwab Foundation.
About 2,500 educators administered the challenge, according to the release, averaging about one for each of the nation's schools. Stonewall Jackson High School teacher Terri Carson was among these teachers. She implements a "financial literacy boot camp" to help students at the Manassas, Virginia, school improve their money management skills.
"Schools need to provide children with personal finance education to help them navigate our very complex economic system," she said. "My students will use the financial literacy skills that I teach them in my business classes every day of their adult lives."
Duncan and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged more teachers to embrace their role in shaping their students' financial future.
In addition to the Treasury and Educations Departments' efforts, President Barack Obama has recently put an emphasis on improving Americans' money management skills by declaring April National Financial Literacy Month. Many public and private organizations have seized this initiative to educate consumers about eliminating debt, avoiding risk and properly disposing personal documents.