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Editorial: More economics exposure would benefit high schoolers

Apr. 27, 2013 @ 12:14 AM

The Great Recession affected millions of American households, but the high school students in those households weren't necessarily soaking up lessons about the impact.

A new U.S. Department of Education report says that the nearly 11,000 high school seniors who took an economics test as part of the 2012 National Assessment of Educational Progress performed basically the same as students did in 2006.

In between, of course, was the Great Recession, which saw the stock market and housing values drop sharply, unemployment soar and many Americans pinching pennies. Despite living through that, and supposedly a greater emphasis placed in economics in many schools, the scores barely changed.

The result is that many high school graduates will be ill-equipped to face the forces that will affect them financially, including how to handle money, how to be smart about making major purchases or how to adjust when the economy turns sour. "We need to do more ... so they can make informed decisions, whether they are negotiating a car loan, voting or reading financial news," said David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which runs the federal tests.

There has been some movement. In 2004, only 16 states required economics to be offered to high school students and only 14 required them to take the class. By 2011, those numbers rose to 25 and 22, respectively, according to the Council for Economic Education. During the 2011-12 academic year, all 50 states and the District of Columbia included some form of economics in their curriculum between kindergarten through high school graduation.

Apparently, that has not been effective enough -- something that education officials should address. Granted, it's not always easy to capture teens' attention about economic matters, but if the focus is placed on how they could be affected, they might pay attention.



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