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UA Part of America's Financial Test
The Norton School's Take Charge America Institute has a number of lesson plans in the 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge.
It should come as no surprise that several components of the "educators toolkit" contained in President Barack Obama's 2011 National Financial Capability Challenge come from the University of Arizona.
The White House released a set of lesson plans on Thursday – including the three from the UA's Take Charge America Institute – that teachers can use to help students prepare for the upcoming exam.
The challenge, which will include a voluntary online exam for high school students that begins March 7, helps teach young Americans about saving, budgeting, investing, and other important skills critical to building a strong financial future.
The highest scoring students will be recognized at a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. Other high-scorers will receive official certificates.
The Take Charge America Institute, part of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, has been offering financial education programs and researching consumer finance issues since 2003.
The TCAI tools in the new toolkit include: Understanding Your Paycheck (especially all of the deductions), Take Charge of Your Finances (insurance basics) and The Essentials to Take Charge of Your Finances (about combating identity theft).
"I don't think anyone disputes that young adults today face a marketplace with complex financial products that require careful decisions," said economist and TCAI director Michael Staten.
"The more we can do to increase their financial savvy, the better choices they'll make. The White House Challenge exam should give high school students a valuable wake-up call as to whether they're ready for the market because we know the market is ready for them."
"Empowering students with the knowledge they need to make smart financial choices about saving, budgeting and investing for the future is good for the long-term strength of our economy," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in a statement. "It will help ensure that young people have the skills they need to achieve financial security, and that will help us continue to build this recovery on a strong and sustainable foundation."
"Our students need to graduate high school ready for college and career if they're going to compete in a global economy," said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in the White House news release.
"Incorporating financial literacy, through Treasury's online educator toolkit or other significant learning materials, will encourage students to make smart long-term investments, such as preparing to pay for college."
The educator toolkit covers five core competencies of financial education: earning, spending, saving, borrowing, and protecting against risk.
It includes lesson plans from the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and non-profit organizations that are designed to help teach students important financial skills, such as developing a personal spending plan, balancing checking and savings accounts, understanding the costs of benefits of buying insurance, using credit wisely, minimizing exposure to identity theft and making smart investments in their future through education.
Additionally, for the first time, this year's educator toolkit will include interactive online lessons and Spanish-language materials. The toolkit can be used not only to help prepare students for the Challenges online exam, but also for year-round classroom instruction on financial capability.
More than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators in all 50 states participated in last school year's National Financial Capability Challenge. This year's exam will be available online between March 7 and April 8. Educators can administer the exam to their students at any time during that window.
To register for the Challenge, educators should visit http://www.challenge.treas.gov between now and April 8.
The White House has offered a number of steps they say can help empower Americans through improved financial capability. In November 2010, they unveiled the National Strategy for Financial Literacy. The administration also established the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability to offer advice on coordinating private and public sector efforts.
Also last November, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration and U.S. Department of Education announced a new partnership to encourage schools and financial institutions to work together to increase students' financial capability, access to federally insured deposit accounts and savings.
In January2011, Treasury launched a pilot program to offer safe, convenient and low-cost financial accounts for electronic delivery of federal tax refunds to Americans with either limited or no access to traditional banking services.