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Education Assessment

Atlanta, St. Louis Feds grading education programs

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of St.Louis, has begun a thorough assessment of the two Reserve Banks' financial and economic education efforts. The Federal Reserve Banks provide economic education opportunities to teachers, students, and others through a variety of programs and outreach efforts. The banks also provide financial education training to organizations serving low- to moderate-income adults.

The assessment is being conducted by Paul Grimes, associate dean and professor of economics at Mississippi State University, and Bill Bosshardt, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Education at Florida Atlantic University. The first phase of the study examined teacher workshops that help prepare middle and high school educators to teach economics. (Workshop topics include the role of the Federal Reserve.) This phase also looked at adult financial education programs designed to help consumers reestablish checking accounts. The early findings include the following:

  • Participants' (teachers') scores on post-workshop tests were on average 19 percent better than their pre-workshop scores.
  • Ninety percent of teachers said they planned to use workshop materials and knowledge gained in the classroom.
  • Sixty percent reported using Fed materials in the weeks immediately after their workshop.

Ending in 2010, the assessment will identify the most effective education programs used by the Atlanta and St. Louis Feds. The results will help optimize the Reserve Banks' economic and financial resources supporting financial education.

"Our education effort targets 6th through 12th grade economics teachers because, as dedicated and diligent as they are, most of them have less academic training in economics than in other social studies areas like history," said Bobbie McCrackin, vice president and head of the Atlanta Fed Public Affairs Department. "To sharpen our tactics and strategies, we need to know what is working best, and the assessment will tell us that."

The Atlanta Fed will conduct 15 teacher workshops throughout the Southeast from September through November 2009. By teaching the teachers—or training the trainers—the Banks widen their reach. Each teacher workshop attendee, for example, teaches more than 75 students in a school year.

The participation and support of an informed public is important to the Fed's effectiveness in conducting monetary policy and banking supervision, in developing and enforcing regulation, and in maintaining a stable economy.