Fort Dodge Senior High is considering making financial literacy a graduation requirement.
After consulting with the Fort Dodge Community School District board Monday, FDSH Principal Dave Keane is preparing to include the requirement in its future curriculum.
"Some schools have had that type of requirement for some time and they provide a choice between several courses that could satisfy that," he said. "One of my concerns is any time you add a requirement, for certain skills rather than content, there are some kids who already come to us with those skills."
Keane, who is in favor of a financial literacy requirement, wants an assessment in place for students who can already demonstrate proficiency and thus opt out of taking a class.
"That way, if they've already learned those skills, because their parents have worked with them, set up checking accounts, explain to them a lot of the financial happenings with their home, the kids aren't stuck taking a class on something they already know a lot about," he said.
Fort Dodge Senior High offers two financial literacy courses: Personal Finance and Personal Money Management.
"Both of those are courses that center around financial literacy standards," Keane said.
Senior High faculty was divided as to whether financial literacy should be a graduation requirement, Keane said.
"There were several of the graduation requirements that everybody, I think, was pretty much in consensus with, but there were a couple, like financial literacy, that we weren't quite sure, should it be a requirement?" he said. "And even though there's quite a few people that thought it should be, then the second question that came up was, what would satisfy that requirement?"
Keane brought the issue to the school board Monday for a recommendation. It's the board, not the school's principal, who decides the district's curriculum.
"The feedback they gave me was, yes, we want to explore a financial literacy requirement in the future," he said.
Going forward, Keane will look toward developing a curriculum by assembling an advisory team.
"I'll be putting a team together to take a look at financial literacy and the Iowa Core, what financial literacy really means to some of our people in our community, and what they think that level of expectation by the time kids graduate should be," he said.
For students completing and leaving Senior High, financial literacy is an important skill, Keane said.
"One of the concerns I think our society as a whole has is, are kids walking out of high school and entering college equipped to deal with some of the financial decisions that they're going to have to make?" he said. "If not, should that be part of our responsibility as a K-12 system, that we make sure they have those skills before they leave us? That's where the requirement comes in. It's not that we don't already offer those opportunities for kids, it's, should we require the kids do that?"
The Iowa Core Curriculum has a section on financial literacy and establishes proficiency standards, Keane said.
"If it's important enough to include in that document, we should at least spend some time in conversation about how we're going to ensure our kids are having exposure to that," he said.