Smarter Texans Save Results Promising

Smarter Texans Save Results Promising

April 28, 2014 – Amarillo ISD recently teamed with OpportunityTexas to pilot a money-minded program for fourth graders in our district. The program, Smarter Texans Save, aims to help this generation of students learn more about financial responsibility through hands-on education initiatives. Results from this pilot program were recently released and show the effect of classroom-based financial education and access to a bank or credit union branch in school on students’ financial knowledge, behavior and attitudes.

Overall, the study’s results were encouraging for this hands-on approach:

  • Even relatively short classroom financial education significantly improved student financial knowledge and the effects of the education persisted up to a year later.
  • Both the financial education and access to in-school savings accounts were found to improve students’ attitudes toward saving and about financial institutions.
  • A student with access to banking in his or her school also was more likely to have a savings account than a student who did not.
  • A $25 “seed” deposit, which was randomly offered to students to encourage them to open an account, increased the likelihood a student opened an account by 18 percent.

Half of the 2,500 fourth grade students in Amarillo ISD – one of two school districts nationally that participated in the study – were given the opportunity to open savings accounts through Happy State Bank’s in-school banking program. The $25 seed deposits, randomly assigned to encourage student enrollment, were provided by the Amarillo Area Foundation.

The study provided a great opportunity to get feedback on Texas’ new K-8 personal financial education math curriculum, passed in 2011, which goes into effect this fall and to understand if connecting the curriculum with student account access enhances student learning.  

“We are happy and honored to be a partner in this project. Our desire is that kids and their families acquire the financial skills necessary to be successful with their money,” said J. Pat Hickman, Happy State Bank Chairman and CEO.

“This ground-breaking research provides promising evidence for the impact of school-based financial education and account access on students’ academic performance and attitudes about saving,” noted Laura Rosen, OpportunityTexas Coordinator. “This study’s findings make the case for expanding the opportunity for Texas students to open savings accounts in connection with Texas’ new K-8 personal financial literacy standards.”

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