U.S. students show average financial know-how in study

The United States runs in the middle of the pack when it comes to the financial knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds, according to an international study released by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
By JENNIFER C. KERR, Associated Press Published: July 10, 2014
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The United States runs in the middle of the pack when it comes to the financial knowledge and skills of 15-year-old boys and girls, according to an international study released Wednesday.

China’s financial hub of Shanghai had the highest average score for teens who participated in the testing for the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. A total of 18 countries and economies were studied. Shanghai was followed by the Flemish Community of Belgium, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, the U.S., Russia and France.

At the bottom of the list: Croatia, Israel, the Slovak Republic, Italy and Colombia.

Test shows strengths

The testing is part of OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment, which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide. This is the program’s first assessment of financial literacy of teens.

The questions on the two-hour paper test ranged from simple to complex.

The easiest questions asked students to display basic financial literacy skills, such as recognizing the purpose of an invoice or comparing prices per unit to determine which had a better value.

The most difficult asked students to analyze more complicated scenarios, such as reviewing two loan proposals with differing rates and terms and choosing the better offer.

Shanghai notched the top average score of 603 points on the test. The U.S., by comparison, had an average score of 492, and Colombia, at the bottom, scored 379.

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Oklahoma ties

Oklahoma public school students must demonstrate an understanding of banking, taxes, investing, loans, insurance, identity theft and eight other areas to graduate, under a law passed in 2007. Districts are permitted to implement the requirements in the seventh through 12th grades and use curriculum provided by the state Education Department or whatever they choose.

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