Findings and Next Steps

Significant Findings

Increased Confidence to Teach Personal Finance

A major outcome of the course is the ability of this one week class to raise the confidence of participants to teach personal finance. Based on pre-class and post-class testing, the data shows teacher confidence increases dramatically. Each year we asked participants to respond the question “I have the knowledge necessary to effectively teach my students about personal finance” with one of the following: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree or strongly agree. In the pre-test, 39% of the total said they either agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. After taking the class, 94% of the teachers agreed or strongly agreed with that statement – an increase of 139% over pre-test survey results.

Extensive Data Collection & Program Evaluation

In collaboration with Dr. Billy Hensley, the Education Director of the Denver-based National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), each year the Summer Institute participants were asked identical questions pre-class and post-class to assess changes in both attitudes and behaviors associated with personal finance in their lives and with teaching personal finance in their classrooms. This evaluation protocol was developed and implemented at pilot projects based in Colorado, South Carolina and Vermont. The results are summarized in the NEFE report Content-Based Teacher Development: Pilot Project.

Statewide Impacts

By reaching over three-quarters of the Vermont’s supervisory unions, the Summer Institute is reaching students across the state. Moreover, several schools and school districts are taking steps to institutionalize personal finance education as a result of attending the Summer Institute. For example, in 2013 two school Boards - Fair Haven Union and U-32 in Montpelier - voted to require a one-semester financial literacy course for high school graduation beginning in 2018.

Extended Impacts

Almost 20,000 Vermont students reached over 5 years: Teachers educated at the Summer Institute are delivering personal finance education through dedicated courses and through integration into existing courses and will continue to do so for many years to come. Based on self-reporting, we project each teacher will, on average, reach 63 students per academic year. Over five years, assuming 8% of teachers leave the profession annually, we estimate the 92 classroom teachers trained will reach 19,815 students with personal finance education informed by the week long Summer Institute. Over 10 years, 37,760 students will be engaged by Summer Institute graduates.

Next Steps

Assessing Knowledge and Behavior Change in the Classrooms of Participants

To further assess the value of the Summer Institute’s curriculum, 12 participating teachers from three high schools (Burlington, Fair Haven Union and Union 32) are being followed back into their classrooms. Over the next three years (2013 – 2015), as part of the Financial Literacy Program in Vermont High Schools (“Pilot Program”), students at these schools are being tested to assess the impacts of learning about personal finance both on their knowledge and on their financial behaviors. Testing began in the fall of 2013. In addition, identical tests are being administered to three “control group” schools where students have not received financial literacy training. The assessment portion of this project is being conducted in collaboration with NEFE (the National Endowment for Financial Education). Merchants Bank continues its involvement as a sponsor of this initiative that furthers the work of the Summer Institutes.

Spreading the Summer Institute Model

Using the lessons learned running the Vermont Summer Institute, the Center is seeking partners and hosts in other states to convene similar Summer Institutes. Over the long term, the Center may add online delivery to a national audience.