February 2015

Financial Literacy and Economic Education Information for Pennsylvania Teachers
Are You Registered for Next Week's Webinar?

Pennsylvania teachers and administrators are encouraged to learn more about implementing the new Model Curriculum for Pennsylvania Financial Education Programs on the 2014-2015 Making Cents webinar series. Each webinar provides valuable content information as well as free curriculum resources to help teach the core concepts and reach competency in all six big idea areas.  Mark your calendars with the dates below and register now. A separate registration is required for each session.


All Making Cents webinars are available at no charge. Two sessions will be held each day to accommodate various schedules: 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  


The upcoming February 18th webinar will feature Chris Rockey from PNC Bank and Tricia Heisey with Belco Community Credit Union discussing financial services including new products, trends in banking, and the financial education resources financial institutions provide. 


DateBig IdeaCurriculum Resource
2/18Financial Services
Bank and Credit Union Resources
3/12Risk ManagementNext Generation
4/22Saving and InvestingTBA


If you missed previous webinars, check them out in the archive of the Making Cents Project website.

New Model Personal Finance Curriculum for Pennsylvania Schools Announced

The state's new Model Personal Finance Curriculum for grades PK-12 is the featured content on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's (PDE) Standards Aligned System (SAS) website. 

The model can be used by districts as they review their efforts to integrate personal finance and/or offer a standalone personal finance course at the high school level. 


To access the complete set of materials, educators need to first log-in to the SAS website. From the Teacher Tools menu proceed to Curriculum Mapping and then select the PA Standards instructional Frameworks: Personal Finance.  

The model curriculum provides overarching long-term transfer goals and six big ideas with essential questions, core concepts and competencies and alignment to the academic standards. Grade band and grade level summaries are offered for grades Pre-Kindergarten through eight. For the high school level, a complete model course is available with six modules - one for each big idea - and pacing recommendations for a one-semester course. 


The big ideas/modules are:

  • Money Management 
  • Earning Income
  • Borrowing Money
  • Financial Services
  • Risk Management
  • Saving and Investing  
In addition, the Model High School Course can be downloaded in its entirety in a PDF format in the Personal Finance Professional Learning Community. To join, log into SAS then go to Teacher Tools --> My Communities and search with the keywords: Personal Finance. 

For more information about the model curriculum or to discuss how to use or implement it in your school, please contact Hilary Hunt, Project Coordinator.
Financial Algebra: Integrating Math and Financial Education  


Is your school offering a course in Financial Algebra or an equivalent course integrating math and personal finance? 


If so, The Making Cents Project wants to know. Please email project coordinator, Hilary Hunt, to share your information.


Chris Hess, a math teacher at McCaskey High School in Lancaster, was featured in a recent news article that shared Mr. Hess' current Financial Friday lessons and shared the news of a new financial algebra course adopted by the district. You can read the full article here.

Resource Spotlight: Math in the Real World


The Council on Economic Education has a new series of lesson plans that demonstrate the overlap between math and economics and personal finance. Math in the Real World currently features nine high school level lessons on topics ranging from earning credit and profit maximization to payday loans and inflation. Additional lessons will be added in the near future. 


The lessons are free of charge once teachers create a user profile on the EconEdLink website. 


The Council is offering a webinar on February 17th from 4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. to introduce the new lessons. Register here

C Bowen
Expand Your Knowledge:
Taxing Matters
by Cathy Faulcon Bowen, Ph.D.


It is tax filing season again and a teachable moment for first time taxpayers and seasoned taxpayers! 


Taxpayers of all ages should be lifelong learners as the tax laws change a little each year. Below are a few misconceptions that occur among taxpayers who are still learning about income tax laws followed by brief explanations to understanding the misconception.  Also listed are resources you can use to stay on top of yearly tax law changes made by Congress, just before the filing season starts.

"I have been held responsible for taxes I know nothing about."  


James Brown

Misconception: I can deduct my contributions to charitable organizations on my income tax return.

Yes you can but only if you itemize your deductions using a Schedule A. Federal tax laws gives you opportunities to reduce your income before the amount of your income that will be taxed is determined. One reduction comes when you determine if you will itemize your deductions using the categories on a Schedule A or use the standard deduction amount.  The standard deduction amount is a number set by the tax laws for your filing status (single, married filing joint, married filing separately, head of household). You will use the higher number of the two amounts (itemized deduction or standard deduction). Standard deduction amounts are adjusted up each year for inflation. For 2014 standard deduction amounts, see page 2 of the Form 1040-under Taxes and Credits. In general, if you are a homeowner and pay mortgage interest and have property taxes combined with other items listed on Schedule A, it is usually more beneficial to itemize your deductions.


Misconception: I can deduct my out of pocket medical expenses on my income taxes.

Yes, but only those expenses that EXCEED 10% of your adjusted gross income (line 37 on the Form 1040).  (In 2014, this percentage increased from 7.5% to 10% for everyone born after 1950). Unless you or a dependent have extremely high medical bills, you are not likely to have expenses that exceed 10% of your AGI-adjusted gross income.  For example, say your total income was $60,250.  You spent $250 of your own money for supplies used in your classroom that were not reimbursed by your district (see line 23 on Form 1040).  You can subtract the $250 from your income as an adjustment making your AGI (line 38 on Form 1040) $60,000.  Receipts for your medical expenses totaled to $1000.  When you multiply your AGI ($60,000) by 10% the total is $6,000.  Only expenses ABOVE $6000 can be included on the Schedule A as an itemized deduction.  In short, keeping tracking of out of pocket medical expenses is great information for other purposes but you may not be able to list the amount on your tax return as a deduction!


Misconception: I worked a part-time job in the summer but did not earn enough money to file a tax return.

Teenagers and others who work occasionally might not earn enough to have a legal requirement to file a federal tax return in a given tax year.  However, if federal taxes were withheld from their pay, (see box 2 on the form w-2) you may be able to get the taxes withheld back if you file a tax return.  Caution:  Even if you don't have to file a federal tax return, you are required to file a tax return in Pennsylvania if you earned $33 or more of taxable income in Pennsylvania. See page 7 of the Form 1040 Instruction Booklet to see filing requirements applicable to most people.


Learning about or keeping up with tax law changes can be fun!  You earn the money that is subject to tax. The best way to pay your fair share and no more is to be informed about the laws and how to apply them to your personal situation. It's not hard. It just takes a little time to learn the tax language and the basic formula of how income taxes are calculated.  Once you understand the basics, you have the foundation to keep up with the never ending changes that we get each year. To see the new changes in the income tax code each year, consult the "What's New" section of IRS Publication 17 or the 1040 Instruction Booklet.


Finally, you will have to work and pay taxes, what you learn about them is up to you. Start today because you will be held responsible for paying them.

Mark Your Calendar:
Professional Development Opportunities


Teacher Training Programs from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's economic teachers offer one-day, three-evening, and week-long professional development programs aimed at equipping K-12 teachers with the skills and knowledge to better teach their students about economics and personal finance in their own classrooms. Pennsylvania teachers receive Act 48 credit. Visit their website for more information and to register. 

Personal Finance for the Middle School Classroom II: March 11, 18, and 25, 2015

- Keys to Financial Success Teacher Training Program: July 16-10, 2015

- Making Sense of Money and Banking: July 20-24, 2015


Financial Literacy Summit 2015

"Improving Millennials' Financial Literacy with Mobile Technology" is the topic of the 2015 Financial Literacy Summit sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Visa. The event will take place April 15, 2015 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can register here to watch the live webcast or attend the program in person.  
Visit us online!

Find even more resources from The Making Cents Project at www.makingcentspa.org!
Quick Links
2015 Webinars
Model Curriculum
Financial Algebra
Resource Spotlight
Expand Your Knowledge
Mark Your Calendar
Research Report
Literature Connection
PA Teacher Chosen
Research: Mandatory High School Personal Finance Course Improves Credit in Long Term 

A newly released study funded by the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, "State Financial Education Mandates: It's All in the Implementation," 
shows that intensive mandates for high school personal finance courses makes an impact on the future credit behavior of the students. 

The study shows increased credit scores and decreased 90-day delinquency rates in the three states studied with the greatest gains coming three years after the students completed the course.


Authored by researches from the Federal REserve Board, Montana State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, the results may be found here.

Children's Literature Connection:
Math Start Series


Stuart J. Murphy's popular Math Start series of children's books includes a number of stories with personal finance and economic connections. 


Sluggers' Car Wash features a baseball team raising money to buy some new team T-shirts through a car wash. Click here for activity page and more information.


The Penny Pot is a story about children at a school fair wanting to have their faces painted. Click here for activity page and more information.


follows kids as they run a lemonade stand and track their sales on a bar graph. Click here for activity page and more information.


Less Than Zero's main character is a penguin

that earns, spends, finds, loses, and borrows clams to buy a scooter. Click here for activity page and more information.

Take Charge Today Selects PA's Sharon Baillie as Master Teacher


Congratulations to Burgettstown Middle/High School teacher, Sharon Baillie! She has been selected as a Master Teacher by Take Charge Today. In this capacity, she will help to further develop their financial education program. Sharon has presented on the Making Cents Webinars and is a member of the team that developed the Model Personal Finance High School Course. Get to know Sharon and the rest of the Master Teachers here


About this Message 

Making Cents is a cooperative effort by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania State University. If you find the content useful, please consider forwarding it to your colleagues. 


Team Members:

Sally Flaherty, PDE

Cathy F. Bowen, PSU

Hilary Hunt, Consultant

PDE small horizontal logo
View Previous Messages 
Have you missed a message from us in the past? Get caught up! Visit our archive of previous Making Cents eBlasts here.