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State students lack personal knowledge, outperform others

By Don Mecoy Published: April 29, 2008

Three out of four Oklahoma high school seniors failed a national test designed to assess knowledge of personal finance.

Only 6 percent of the Oklahoma students correctly answered 70 percent of the test questions, the equivalent of a "C” grade. However, that poor showing was better than the scores of all U.S. students, of whom less than 5 percent correctly answered 70 percent of the questions.

Lack of knowledge is the chief problem with people who are struggling with debt, said Jennifer Wallis, vice president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Oklahoma.

"Honestly, most people just don't know,” Wallis said. "It's really kind of unfair to expect someone to know how to do something when they've never been taught how to do it.”

Educators, economists and financial services experts hope new financial literacy education requirements that take effect this fall can improve those poor scores.

All students entering seventh grade this fall must complete 14 financial literacy standards by graduation in 2014. If a school district chooses not to teach the curriculum until high school — as many districts are —implementation of the coursework won't need to begin for a couple of years.

Students at 11 Oklahoma schools were among the 6,856 The national score is a decrease from the 2006 mean, which was 52.4 percent.

Much of the work of Wallis' organization is teaching basic money-handling skills to clients, and providing education to younger Oklahomans which should help them make better choices with their money, she said.

"They're going to have more financial knowledge and better tools to take into their adult life,” Wallis said.

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