Updated February 2011
More than ever, economic and financial literacy plays an important role in the public's understanding of how the economy works. This understanding forms a foundation for critical decisions that we all face, ranging from the schools we attend or the jobs we train for to the amount of money we set aside for retirement.
The economic and financial education programs offered by the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis help teachers learn about the economy and the Fed's unique role in promoting maximum sustainable employment and stable prices. These programs also give teachers the tools to teach financial literacy to their students. Such were the findings of a recently completed independent assessment of the Reserve Banks' education programs that began in 2008.
The Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis partnered with Paul Grimes, Associate Dean and Professor of Economics at Mississippi State University, and Bill Bosshart, Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education at Florida Atlantic University, to assess the effectiveness of their economic education programs.
Findings show increase in knowledge, classroom application
The assessment measured the programs in two key areas—knowledge gains and usage in the classroom for K-12 teachers. The findings show that the Reserve Banks' education programs are demonstrably increasing teacher knowledge about the Federal Reserve and personal finance.
According to pre- and post-workshop tests, teacher training on economic topics increased teacher knowledge by about 25 percent. Furthermore, teachers are sharing their new knowledge with students and are using Federal Reserve materials to do it. Through a follow-up survey, 73 percent of the teachers reported using knowledge that they had gained from the workshops in their classes, and 65 percent indicated that they taught their students with Federal Reserve materials.
Well-informed public key to Fed's mission
The assessment's results will help the Reserve Banks focus their education efforts on proven strategies and tools, which will in turn allow the Banks to use their education resources more effectively. Further, by highlighting the practices that were most successful, the findings can help strengthen efforts within the Atlanta and St. Louis Reserve Banks and other interested organizations to inform the public and equip citizens to make informed financial decisions. "A well-informed public is essential to the Federal Reserve's ability to fulfill its role in the economy," noted Bobbie McCrackin, vice president in the Atlanta Fed's Public Affairs Department. "The assessment's results confirm that the economic and financial education programs offered by the Atlanta and St. Louis Reserve Banks are playing an important role in helping teachers and in turn their students understand the Fed's role in the economy and basic principles of personal finance."
The Atlanta Fed's economic education team has already modified many of its programs based on results from the assessment, explained Gary Tapp, the Bank's economic education director. "Going forward, we will be implementing many of the new recommendations, including a major initiative to use more online delivery methods," he added.
The full report, including the program evaluations and the consultants' recommendations, is now available online. Also, listen to a recent interview featuring Paul Grimes, in which he discusses the assessment and explains why economic education is so important.
Paul Grimes discusses the assessment and explains why economic education is so important. (November 2010)Listen |
Making the Grade
in Economic Education
Through an independent assessment, the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta and St. Louis gauged the effectiveness of their financial and economic education programs. The video highlights some of the banks' most effective education efforts and reports on the first year of the assessment process.
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