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New information will help U.S. improve financial literacy

New information released today shows how well American teens understand financial concepts and can apply them to their own situations. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published results of the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) financial literacy assessment. This new information will help us develop targeted programs and initiatives to ensure our young people move toward adulthood with the financial knowledge, skills, and habits that could help them to reach their own goals in their adult financial lives.

This information is a result of the OECD adding a section on financial literacy to their PISA in 2012 and continuing to include it in 2015. PISA is given every three years to 15-year-olds in countries around the world. It also assesses students' reading, math, and science skills.

What we can learn from the 2015 financial literacy component of PISA

Graph comparing U.S. results of financial literacy component of PISA in 2012 and 2015.

While the results show there is room to improve, there are some bright spots.

  1. One promising thing is that 66.5 percent of the teens in the U.S. said they discuss money matters with their parents weekly or monthly. In most participating countries, students who had talks with their parents at least sometimes did better than those who did not talk to their parents about money.
  2. Holding a bank account was associated with higher financial literacy results even after taking into account family economic circumstances. In the U.S., students who hold a bank account performed better in financial literacy by over 20 score points than students of similar socio-economic status who do not have a bank account.

How we prepare the next generation for the complex financial choices that they will face as adults is of fundamental importance.

At the CFPB, we are committed to helping everyone who wants to help our nation’s children build money skills. There are roles for parents, teachers, librarians, education policy leaders, financial institutions, and others to help our nation’s children develop the money skills that will help them as adults.

How you can help children and youth to develop financial literacy

We are working to support those most involved in youth financial education, and we are looking to people like you in communities around the country to help.  

Here are some resources to explore:

  • Money as You Grow - This site has activities for parents and guardians to teach children about money at different stages in their development. Additionally, there is the Money as You Grow book club, a resource that provides discussion guides to use with children’s books.
  • Guide for advancing K-12 financial education - This recently updated guide seeks to connect community and education leaders with information, insights, and best practices about what works in K-12 financial education.
  • Building blocks to help youth achieve financial capability - This report can help educators understand the childhood origins of financial capability and well-being, and identify those roots in order to find promising practices.
  • Personal Finance Teaching Pedagogy - In this guide for teachers, we’ve identified teaching techniques and learning strategies to address the three building blocks that develop in childhood and support the development of lifelong personal finance decision-making skills.

For more information about PISA and to view the just-released 2015 results, please visit the National Center for Education Statistics site .

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