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Saturday June 16, 1998

High School Seniors
Lack Money Handling Skills

By William Heartstone, Daily Republican Staff Writer

WASHINGTON DESK - Most high school students graduate with few of the personal financial skills they need to support themselves, show survey results released this month.

A nationwide survey, conducted by Lewis Mandell, Ph.D., an economist and researcher, Dean of Business at Marquette University, looked at 12th graders' level of knowledge within four areas: income; money management; saving and investment; and spending. Students were asked questions on a wide range of topics and concepts, such as taxes, retirement, insurance, credit use, inflation and budgeting.

On average, survey participants answered 57% of the questions correctly -- a failing grade based upon the typical grade scale used by schools (90% - 100% = A, 80% - 89% = B, etc.). The fact that students were able to choose correct answers, on average, more than half of the time was due largely to several questions that tested terminology rather than reasoning ability, said Mandell. For example, 88.7% knew that salaries, wages and tips constituted primary sources of income for most people age 20-35, but fewer than half suspected that if a person's income doubled (from $12,000 to $24,000 per year), income taxes would at least double.

The survey results underscore serious concerns about young people's ability to make educated financial decisions once they're out on their own, according to Dara Duguay, executive director of the Jump$tart Coalition,which is taking-on a national campaign to address and correct dismal public school performance in finance education.

'...Clearly, this demonstrates the need for schools to provide personal finance curricula for the nation's 50 million students in grades K-12...' Duguay said.

The 1997 survey results provide a baseline measurement by which to gauge progress toward the coalition's goal of financial competency among all 12th graders by the year 2007.

In addition, the coalition will provide schools with a set of guidelines to assist elementary, secondary and high school teachers, as well as numerous other educators throughout the country

The survey, conducted in March and April, 1997, consisted of a written 40-minute examination administered to 1,509 12th graders from schools across the U.S.

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