Credit cards, car loans and mortgages: Should financial literacy be required for students?

Does your high school student understand interest rates, car loans and mortgages? That type of knowledge on financial literacy could become mandatory to get a diploma in the Montgomery County, Maryland, school system.

“We as a system do believe that financial literacy is important. And it’s certainly important for our students so that they can become those citizens who have this information to better prepare them for their futures,” Superintendent Monifa McKnight told the Montgomery County Board of Education last week.

The board is now weighing whether to make a half-credit financial literacy course a requirement to graduate from high school.

The options for classes to complete this requirement would include a personal finance class, financial mathematics and online courses where students would meet with a teacher once a week.

“This is critical information for our students to have as they leave us,” said Board of Education President Karla Silvestre during a meeting on May 25. “We make a lot of mistakes when we don’t have this knowledge as we enter the world of workplace, etc.”

Thousands of students have already been taking such courses as electives for several years, and many graduating in the next few weeks will receive a special graduation cord recognizing their financial literacy.

The vast majority of students taking these course have passed, around 97%, according to data gathered this school year.

“We do think that personal finance, as a course, is a very engaging course and the students would continue to have a high success rate because it is engaging in particularly for upperclassmen,” said Maria Tarasuk with Montgomery County Public Schools’ Department of Curriculum. “It’s highly relevant. They’re interested in learning about it and really putting it to use.”

If the new curriculum is approved, Montgomery County Public Schools would join several districts in the area, such as Prince George’s and Fairfax counties, to require classes on understanding money.

The school board will discuss financial literacy curriculum further during its June 6 meeting.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up