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St. Louis, Atlanta Feds Grading Education Programs


The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, has begun a thorough assessment of the two Reserve banks' economic and financial education efforts. The assessment, which will conclude in 2010, will identify the most effective education programs used by the St. Louis and Atlanta Feds. The results will help optimize the Reserve banks' resources supporting economic and financial education.

The assessment is being conducted by Paul Grimes, associate dean and professor of economics at Mississippi State University, and Bill Bosshardt, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for Economic Education at Florida Atlantic University. The first phase of the study examined teacher workshops that help prepare middle- and high-school educators to teach personal finance (workshop topics include budgeting, saving, credit cards, credit reports and taxes) as well as programs to help these educators to teach economics (workshop topics included the role of the Federal Reserve). This phase also looked at adult financial education programs designed to help consumers reestablish checking accounts.

The assessment's early findings included the following:

  • Participants' (teachers') scores on post-workshop economics tests were on average 19 percent better than their pre-workshop scores.
  • Ninety percent of teachers said they planned to use workshop materials and knowledge gained in the classroom.
  • Eighty-six percent of teachers reported using the materials and content learned in their classrooms immediately after their attendance at a workshop.
  • Educators spent an average of three class periods using the materials and content learned.

The Federal Reserve banks provide economic education opportunities for teachers, students and others through a variety of programs, publications and outreach efforts. The banks also provide financial education training to organizations serving low-to moderate-income adults. The participation and support of an informed public is important to the Fed's effectiveness in conducting monetary policy and banking supervision, in developing and enforcing regulation, and in maintaining a stable economy.

"We target teachers in our education efforts because most of them have less training in economics than in other social studies areas," said Joel James, assistant vice president of public policy and external affairs. "And, by training the teachers—or training the trainers—the Banks widen their reach. The results of the assessment indicate that each teacher who attends a workshop teaches more than 75 students in a school year."