Scope and Sequence for Economic Content

Developed for Use with the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics

The document is designed to assist educators as they use the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics to ensure that economic instruction is at the appropriate grade level and that it spirals through the K-12 curriculum. In reviewing the Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics, there were areas where new benchmarks were necessary. In this scope and sequence document, these benchmarks are designated as new.

Economic educators at the University of Delaware’s Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship and the University of Michigan’s School of Education developed this document in cooperation with economic educators at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

How to Use This Document

Educators can use this document by viewing the table of contents and then clicking on the grade level in which they are interested. Clicking on the grade level will allow educators to view a table that includes the benchmarks recommended for that grade level, as well as recommendations for whether those benchmarks should be introduced, reinforced, or mastered at that grade level. If a benchmark is followed by BE, it means the benchmark is related to behavioral economics. If a benchmark is followed by PF, it means the benchmark is related to personal finance.


The Voluntary National Content Standards in Economics was first published in 1997 and revised in 2008. The standards laid out the content and skills that economists, economic educators, and teachers felt were critical for a young person to know upon high school graduation. The resulting 20 economic standards guided teachers, district curriculum directors, and state-level supervisors of social studies to select important economic content and provide rich and accurate coverage at various grade clusters—K-4, 5-8, and 9-12—by breaking down the standards into benchmarks. Benchmarks were the building blocks underlying the economic principles embedded in each standard. You might think of these as little pieces of information or stepping stones that would eventually get a student to the level of the standard. What the standards did not do was provide guidance to help teachers know at what grade level each of the benchmarks should be introduced and how they would spiral through the grade levels. This “Scope and Sequence for Economic Content” corrects that problem. The document articulates at what grade level each benchmark should be introduced, reinforced, and ultimately mastered, based on best practices and available research on how children learn and think about economics. As with the original standards, this scope and sequence focuses strictly on K-12 classrooms and does not address advanced placement (AP) economics. Not everyone will agree on the grade placements of every benchmark. Some may think that content should be introduced at an earlier grade or reinforced at a later grade. However, the key point of the scope and sequence is that benchmark placements are designed to teach economic concepts in a sequential order and with increasing levels of complexity, building upon the knowledge that students gained at previous grade levels. Variations of benchmark placement may differ by school or district. The intent of the scope and sequence is to provide guidance in developing a spiraling economic curriculum that spans the grades. To that end, districts should find this scope and sequence useful when creating an articulated economics program for kindergarten through grade 12.

Find More Economics and Personal Finance Resources

Education Level: Pre-K-5 6-8 9-12
Subjects: Economics
Resource Types: Instructional Guide
Languages: English
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