Arkansas high school students are now expected to pass a semester-long course in economics. The new state mandate is a requirement for graduation.
In order to help students meet course standards, a coalition of groups created an economics curriculum and training sessions for teachers in the state.
Robert Hopkins is a regional executive at the Little Rock Branch of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. He says the Little Rock Branch of the St. Louis Fed crafted a free economics and personal finance course for educators with support from instructional specialists at the nonprofit Economics Arkansas.
“We’re not starting at ground zero in Arkansas with regards to training educators. There has been a lot of work that has been done by teachers at all levels in the state, K through 12,” said Hopkins. “We just hope that we can, over time, make a difference in the economic lives of the citizens of Arkansas.”
The new curriculum created for teachers adheres to Common Core State Standards in math, English, language arts, and reading. The course also conforms to state and national standards for economics education.
Hopkins says this educational initiative is one more way the Fed's Little Rock Branch is making sure Arkansas teachers have the tools necessary to improve the economic and financial literacy of their students.
“From our perspective at the Federal Reserve, our mission is to ensure that we have maximum sustainable economic growth within the country,” Hopkins said. “Our view is that the only way we can have maximum economic growth is if we have an educated populous that understands economics and personal finance… this effort is our avenue to help educate students, particularly those in high school.”
The semester course provides high school economics teachers online and print resources from the St. Louis Fed and the Federal Reserve System.