The curriculum for the Summer Institute has two objectives: to provide teachers with resources, curriculum, ideas and tools to help them integrate personal finance into their classrooms and to help teachers better understand their own financial situation. Studies show that teachers who are confident about their personal finances are more confident about teaching these subjects. Between 50% and 60% of the 45 hours of instruction are devoted to this personal understanding.
During the process of creating the academic core of the Summer Institute, research by the Center's Director connected the Summer Institute with the national curriculum development initiative led by the Jump$tart Teacher Training Alliance's national steering committee, a collaboration between the Jump$tart Coalition, National Endowment for Financial Education, Council for Economic Education, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Family Economics and Financial Education, Junior Achievement, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of the Treasury. The seven core topics identified by the Alliance became the framework for the Summer Institute : Global Economics and Personal Finances; Spending and Financial Planning; Saving and Investing; Enhancing Your Earning Capacity; Financial Services and Identify Fraud; Managing Credit and Debt; and Risk Management and Insurance.
By adopting this curriculum framework, the Summer Institute became one of five participants in a national pilot test. In addition the Center for Financial Literacy was asked by the national steering committee to build and deliver the Pilot Project's only online curriculum demonstration, a well-received module on saving and investing delivered in South Carolina. The results of the national pilot are captured in a research report titled Content-Based Teacher Professional Development (April 2013) authored by Dr. Billy Hensley, NEFE's Director of Education. The report concludes:
This approach, which allows teachers to learn the concepts of personal finance for their own use first, is shown to have significant impact for those working to "catch up" to the plethora of new and changing content standards. If, by way of more thoroughly designed and implemented teacher training models, personal finance topics are presented in a way to increase teacher knowledge for personal use, this pilot project demonstrated that educators can become more comfortable with the subject area and begin to teach the topics more frequently and effectively. While this approach is not the single answer to address the gaps identified by previous research, it is an effective step forward. . . . A teacher-participant said it best, "This was one of the best conferences I've ever been to. I wish I had learned some of this 20 years ago when I was just starting my career."