For Immediate Release - April 06, 2006

JUMPSTART® FINANCIAL LITERACY FINDINGS SUPPORT NEED FOR STATE'S HiFi INITIATIVE

Massachusetts high school seniors surveyed for first time, results slightly better than national average

Seniors surveyed in Massachusetts high schools scored slightly better than their peers nationally in the latest biennial survey of personal finance knowledge conducted for the Washington D.C.-based JumpStart® Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

205 seniors took the survey at 10 undisclosed Massachusetts high schools and received an average score of 55.1 percent. Nationally 5,775 seniors in 37 states faired slightly worse with an average score of 52.4 percent, up one-tenth of one percent from the 2003-04 survey.

By subject area, Massachusetts seniors answers 62.5 percent of the Income questions correct, 50.8 percent of the Money Management questions correct, 45 percent of the Savings questions correct, 58.8 percent of the Spending answers correct and 53.6 of the Debt questions correct. By subject area, the national averages were: Income - 59.2, Money Management - 46.4, Savings - 42.6, Spending - 56.9 and Debt - 51.8.

Previous surveys conducted in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2004 for the JumpStart® Coalition yielded average national scores among seniors of 57.3, 51.9, 50.2 and 52.3 respectively.

The results come after the Romney administration on Monday proclaimed April as Youth Financial Literacy Month in Massachusetts and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey called on all Massachusetts high schools to join the state's voluntary financial literacy program known as HiFi. The state's Office of Consumer Affairs coordinates free teacher training and administers the year old program, which uses the free, highly regarded National Endowment for Financial Education curriculum.

Consumer Affairs Director Janice Tatarka was not surprised with the results of the JumpStart® Coalition survey. "We're still not seeing what would be passing grades so this certainly validates the need for this life skill and programs such as HiFi. We will continue to be part of this survey and our state's initial results give us a baseline to measure the impact of our program in the coming years," said Tatarka.

Since HiFi's launch in May 2005, almost 400 teachers in nearly 200 Massachusetts cities and towns are either teaching the six-unit personal finance course or have taken free teacher training seminars to use the course with existing curriculum in the next school year. It is estimated that during the next school year, over 34,000 Massachusetts juniors and seniors will have received personal finance instruction or 25 percent of the statewide junior and senior class populations.

HiFi Snapshot - April 2006
  • 2004-2005 statewide junior/senior class population = 133,293
  • 34,000 course texts distributed
  • 389 educators trained or scheduled for training
  • 63 financial professionals trained or scheduled for training
  • 192 cities and towns participating in HiFi