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Priority Outcome: Children and youth are productive and equipped to reach financial self sufficiency

Percentage of young adults who are financially literate

Significance of indicator: Youth transitioning into adulthood need basic skills in financial management to avoid costly errors that follow them throughout their financial life. Young adults who make wise employment decisions, live within a budget, and develop savings are more likely to build assets and less likely to fall into poverty.

How we are doing on this indicator: The results for Texas' score on the 2012 National Financial Capability Challenge have declined from the last time this test was given in 2010; the current score is 64.86% down from 67.61%. This survey is distributed nationally every spring, although in 2011 it was not administered because it was being updated. All high school teachers and other educators working with high-school aged students (ages 13-19) are encouraged to register for the Challenge, prepare their students, and administer the online exam. In Texas, 4,649 students of 79 educators participated in the 2012 spring survey. Texas scores below the national average, about a C-/D+ on a scale where 90% is an A.

graph showing the average score for high school age youth, ages 13-19, who participated in the National Financial Capability Challenge

Definition: The average score for high school age youth, ages 13-19, who participated in the National Financial Capability Challenge

Data Source: Department of Treasury, 2012

Data Considerations: 3,323 students participated from Texas, only 71% of the previous participation in 2010 of 4,640. This is a small representative sample of high school students, and the scores are not available by county or region. This survey was distributed for the first time in the spring of 2010, no test was given in 2011.

The story behind the data

The recent economic crisis and the increasing complexity of our financial system make it clear that strengthening the financial knowledge and skills of our young people is critical to their future success and to the future financial stability of our country. To better navigate their financial futures and be prepared to make smart choices, students need to learn more about earning and spending, saving and investing, using credit wisely, avoiding fraud, paying for college, and more. The National Financial Capability Challenge is an awards program designed to increase the financial knowledge and capability of high school aged youth across the United States so they can take control over their financial futures. 1


In 2005, the Texas government issued an unfunded mandate for all high school graduates to receive personal finance training. The Texas Educational Agency (TEA) has established guidelines for financial literacy course content. However, adherence to the education directive depends on the teachers and is not universal. We are not aware of any effectiveness testing for the classes that are taught or adherence tracking for teaching them.


1 National Financial Capability Challenge

Local efforts to improve the indicator

Various non-profits around Austin have financial literacy programs for youth, including the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas and Junior Achievement of Central Texas. Junior Achievement currently has a project to develop financial literacy testing software. Using this program, students will take a pre and post test to determine measured improvement in financial literacy against the Texas Educational Agency's financial literacy requirements. Educators in Austin Independent School District will be able to teach the curriculum in class and the students will take assessments online.


Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas