Making Cents of Financial Literacy and Economic Education
information for Pennsylvania teachers in grades K - 12
 June 2013 
Reports on Economic and Financial Education in Pennsylvania Released
Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education Issues Recommendations


The Pennsylvania Task Force on Economic Education and Personal Financial Literacy Education, established by Act 104 of 2010, spent fourteen months studying research, best practices and trends in financial education in order to formulate recommendations on how to improve financial education in Pennsylvania's schools. The entire report can be viewed here.  The four recommendations of the Task Force are:


  1. Require every Pennsylvania high school student to complete a standalone capstone course on personal finance in order to graduate.
  2. Adopt comprehensive, standalone Pennsylvania K-12 academic standards devoted to personal finance
  3. Provide dedicated funding to support high quality K-12 personal finance instruction and teacher training.
  4. Develop a financial education instructional endorsement for secondary teachers in Pennsylvania and corresponding guidelines for professional educator programs.
For additional information on the report, contact Mary Rosenkrans, Chair of the Task Force, at or 717-214-4755.
Report on the Status of Economic Education and Personal Finance Education in the Commonwealth


Concurrent with the Task Force report above and in accordance with Act 104 of 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities have issued a biennial report on the status of economic education and personal finance education in Pennsylvania.  The report can be downloaded in its entirety here. Below are some of the findings of this report:

  1. Economics and personal finance are two distinct (albeit related) disciplines.
  2. Twenty-eight percent of Pennsylvania's high school students take a course devoted to economics or personal finance.
  3. Thirty-eight (or 7.6 percent) of the state's 500 school districts require students to take a course in personal finance before graduation.
  4. While economics is taught promarily in the social studies, personal finance lacks a "home" subject area.
  5. There are numerous resources available to help school districts teach personal finance--many of which are free.
  6. Teachers want additional professional development to adequately teach both subjects. 
In addition to these findings, the report identifies challenges faced at the state and local levels and makes recommendations for improving economic and financial education. For additional information on the report, contact Sally Flaherty, PDE Social Studies Advisor, at or 717-783-1832.
Summer Professional Development Opportunities
FRB Philly
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia - Summer Programs in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Reading

The following programs will be offered this summer by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • High School Personal Finance - for grades 7-12 educators
    • July 31 - August 1 in Reading/Wyomissing
    • August 7 - August 8 in Harrisburg
    • Registration: $25 
    • Act 48 Credits: 13
  • The Federal Reserve and You - for grades 7-12 educators
    • July 30 in Reading/Wyomissing
    • August 6 in Harrisburg
    • Registration: $10  
    • Act 48 Credits: 6.5 
  • Making Sense of Money and Banking - for grades K-12 educators
    • July 15 - July 19 in Philadelphia
    • Registration: $50 
    • Act 48 Credits: 30 

For full details on all of these programs or to register, visit  

Family Economics and Financial Education (FEFE) National Financial Educator Trainings in Nearby Maryland this Summer
The following FEFE National Financial Educator Trainings are being held this year in Owings Mills, MD at Stevenson University. 
  • Elementary Education
    • July 30 - July 31
    • Registration: $120
  • Deep Dive 
    • July 30 - August 1 
    • Registration: $150
  • New and Improved Resources
    • July 31 - August 1
    • Registration: $120 

For full details on all of these programs or to register, visit 

Expand Your Knowledge
C Bowen Online Banking: Are You in the Game or on the Sideline?   by Cathy Faulcon Bowen, Ph.D.

Online banking allows customers of financial institutions to conduct financial transactions on their institutions secure websites. Most national banks and large regional banks offer online banking. It is a growing component of the banking (credit union) business. At the end of 1999, less than 1% of consumers used this option. The number of online banking users is expected to grow to 70 million by 2014 and mobile banking users to 72 million this year.


So where do you stand on the continuum of online banking? Are you on the sideline watching and waiting for a major event to confirm that clinging to banking practices of earlier years (cash, paper checks, in person service) is still just fine; after all, they still work. On the other hand, have you jumped in with both feet to use the new tools of online banking? Admittedly, in some regards, I am a slow adapter. I prefer to sit on the sidelines and let others be test cases as new products and services are refined. Eventually I come around for things that have personal application.


My first adventure with nontraditional banking was with direct deposit in 1978 when I decided I was wasting time waiting to deposit paychecks in person. Time constraints and the opportunity to save the cost of postage stamps also moved me to pay utility bills by telephone that year. Fast forward to 2013 and I have embraced many of the tools and advantages associated with online banking listed below. Three factors have kept me in the loop with online banking: 1) the savings on the rising cost of postage, 2) the need and desire to stay current so I can teach young adults about banking with the tools they are most likely to use and 3) the convenience of online banking. It is a real time saver. Besides saving the cost of postage for bill paying and the convenience of being able to bank on your own time terms, online banking is faster and can be used all over the world as long as you have access to a computer or your bank's app (application) on your smart phone.


Advantages of Online Banking

  • Pay bills and save on mailing costs.
  • Set up automatic payment for recurring bills like utility payments.
  • Transfer funds between accounts within an institution.
  • Link accounts between financial institutions.
  • Set-up multiple sub-accounts for savings goals.
  • Download transactions from financial accounts into an electronic checkbook maintained on your personal computer.
  • View account balances.
  • View recent transactions.
  • View images of paid checks.
  • Makes banking easy for those who travel for work.

Disadvantages/Concerns with Online Banking

  • Safety concerns or trust that websites and data are secure.
  • Learning to use features.
  • Websites updated periodically which mean learning new formatting.

Mobile Banking

Once cell phones became more readily available, large financial institutions started offering services that could be accessed from a mobile phone. Cell phones with texting features can be used to check account balances in checking and savings accounts and the last check deposited; and retrieve payment details for a credit card issued by the bank or credit union. Cell phones with a web browser can handle the previously mentioned transactions as well as pay bills online. In addition to all of the above transactions, smartphones such as Android devices and iPhones can be used to deposit checks by sending pictures of the front of the checks and the endorsed back of checks.


Finally, just when you think you finally have a handle on the new online banking tools, something new surfaces. Square is an electronic payment tool, provided by Square Inc. Square allows users in the United States to accept credit cards through mobile phones by swiping the card on the Square device or manually entering the details on the phone. While small businesses such as vendors at fair-like events may use these to accept payments, individuals can also use Square. One user described how he pays his son for babysitting using Square. Whenever his son babysits for his siblings, he receives an electronic payment. The Square is inserted into his son's cell phone and the father (the payer) swipes his debit/credit card to transfer money between their two credit union accounts. There is a small flat service fee (2.75% of the transaction amount) for swiped transactions and a slightly higher fee for manually entered data.


If you teach older teens about banking and have been sitting on the sidelines or not using online banking, consider gradually learning more about online banking to increase your comfort level. Just look for the same safety features that you use for brick and mortar banks accounts (i.e., federally insured accounts --FDIC, NCUA, or FSLIC symbol at the institution). Experimenting with free mobile financial applications is another way to stay current and increase your comfort level with online and mobile banking options. There are many apps that range from tools to help you track expenses to apps that can handle multiple financial tasks that may or may not relate to online banking.


Additional Resources:
  • Your own financial institution: Check your bank or credit union's website for videos about online and mobile banking options. 
  • Mobile applications: Search your mobile phone's application store for financial applications or apps.
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation:  Safe Internet Banking
  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York:   Tips for Safe Banking over the Internet
Quick Links
New Reports Issued
Summer Programs
Enhance Your Knowledge
New Video
Common Core Resource
Federal Reserve and You
New Video Available  

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released a new series of videos to help teachers explain the role of the federal reserve, monetary policy, and more. The video can be viewed online in segments or in its entirety.  You can also order a free copy of the DVD to show in your classroom if internet access is a challenge. Learn more here

Meeting the Common Core
Money as you Learn

The "Money as You Learn" website launched in April to help teachers and administrators find ways to integrate personal finance with the math and english common core standards. 

Educators can search the site by grade level and then by math, english, or personal finance content. Visit the website for more information.
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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

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