Economic Education Program Shows Positive Results in Local Schools

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An economic education program established to help Madison County schoolchildren learn how to make wise financial decisions has proven successful in its inaugural year.

Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for Economics Education, Central Bank, the Kentucky Council on Economic Education and Madison County Schools partnered to implement “Economics: Math in Real life” in grades K-5 throughout the local school district. The initiative included economics and finance curriculum training for K-5 teachers throughout the local school district, and lessons then were integrated into mathematics and social studies content areas so students could learn real-life applications of the subjects.

A comparison of test scores before and after implementation shows that both teachers and students benefited from the curriculum.  According to Dr. Cynthia Harter, director of EKU’s Center for Economic Education, students in grades 2-5 performed better on economics post-tests after teachers taught the relevant lessons than they had on economics pre-tests. Also, students in grades 3-5 performed better on math post-tests after the lessons than they had on math pre-tests.  Teachers also improved their own test scores after the training.

“So, teachers learned economics, and students learned both economics and math,” Harter concluded. “We were able to provide teachers not only with training but also with a superb set of curriculum and materials not only to use in teaching the lessons we presented but to keep in the classroom and use for other lessons and activities in the future. This is the most effective teacher program we have implemented in terms of training, test scores, community involvement, and resources provided to the teachers.”

Technology applications added to the curricula will help teachers extend coverage and technology integration. “Several teachers tied these lessons into business ventures and community projects that involved students in actual applications of the content to their own lives, including a food drive, a visit to a pet store, candy grams, and many others,” noted Madison County Schools Superintendent Tommy Floyd.

Jeff Fultz, president of the Madison County Market of Central Bank, said the program has “met and exceeded our high expectations. Central Bank is very proud to be a part of this very successful and unique partnership, and we look forward to exploring additional ways we can further increase our students’ learning opportunities in the areas of math and economics. The world of personal finance continues to become more complex, and it’s great to see that the Madison County Schools are stepping up to ensure that our students will be prepared to make good personal finance decisions when they become adults.”

Kathie Hickey, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Council on Economic Education, called “Economics: Math in Real Life” a “model for the state and nation to follow. The results speak for themselves.”

The mission of EKU’s Center for Economic Education is to improve the economic literacy of Kentucky citizens by providing education, training, and materials for teachers in grades K-12, with particular emphasis on the EKU service region. Consultants are available for any type of economics instruction that may be needed; however, the Center is primarily involved in professional development workshops and graduate instruction for in-service teachers, undergraduate instruction for pre-service teachers, and research in economic education.

Published on November 17, 2010