FDSH receives $1,000 prize for financial literacy programs

Fort Dodge Senior High has won $1,000 from the Iowa Financial Know-How Challenge, sponsored by Iowa JumpStart and the Iowa Department of Education.

For the prize, FDSH had to assess its students financial literacy skills in six areas: achieving financial goals, manage money effectively, debt decision making, risk management, investing and asset building, and legal and ethical behavior.

From the prize, $500 will go toward scholarships and $500 will go toward financial literacy curriculum development.

Through a random sampling of 100 students, including students taking business courses, the school acquired a baseline of its students’ financial knowledge, Peg Christensen, FDSH counselor, said.

“We got a report after we were done. They have the global average as 57 percent. And we ended up at 40,” she said. “We were at 40 percent on all of them except the debt decision making and the investing and asset building. That is where we fell off a little bit. But the other four, we were close to the middle of the pack.”

There has been some discussion, Christensen said, about making financial literacy a graduation requirement.

“The idea was yes, we need this. But we’re not a point where it is a requirement,” she said. “Last year there was an advisory meeting, where it was school personnel and community businesses, and they kind of determined what that might look like and what it should be.”

The test will help in this effort.

“If it becomes a requirement, we needed a baseline of what do our kids know and what don’t they know,” Christensen said. “It’s a good baseline data to use as we move forward and figure out what this requirement might look like.”

According to Christensen, it’s important for students to have good financial literacy skills.

“We’re all consumers,” she said. “And if we do not know what a good consumer looks like, whether that’s investing or handling your own money, being a wage earner, we’re not going to be able to survive very well in the world.”