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Report gives Puerto Rico an ‘F’ in financial literacy education

Puerto Rico is one of only four U.S. states and territories to receive an “F” on the Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy, a review released every two years by the American Public Education Foundation.

Despite the failing grade — which Puerto Rico has received since the last report in 2021 — the nonprofit acknowledged the island for integrating financial education into the curriculum of social studies and mathematics in digital lessons.

Furthermore, the report stated that Puerto Rico “needs to require a high school stand-alone personal finance course and implement grade-specific K-8 financial literacy standards.” The other three jurisdictions that earned a failing grade are Alaska, the District of Columbia and South Dakota.

In its assessment of the island’s approach to financial literacy, the American Public Education Foundation cited Act 85 of 2018, which enabled the Puerto Rico Department of Education to establish a Financial Education Program through “alliances with different organizations in the public and private sectors” to “implement an integrated curriculum on Financial Education from Kindergarten through 12th grade.”

In that year, Charleston, South Carolina-based EverFi signed a memorandum of understanding with the Puerto Rico Education Department to become the digital financial education provider for the island’s public schools. The agreement required the company to make the program available to every elementary and high school on the island.

Last year, former Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos renewed the agreement through June this year, according to a document filed at the Puerto Rico Office of the Comptroller.

Attempts to reach EverFi officials were unsuccessful, making it unclear how many schools are accessing the online financial literacy program.

“Although Puerto Rico has established private/public partnerships to make financial literacy lessons and objectives accessible to schools, it still receives an ‘F’ as these lessons do not appear to be required and do not include state standards in all grade levels,” the Foundation said in its assessment.

“Puerto Rico should develop a required stand-alone course and ensure grades K-8 integrate personal finance standards to raise its grade,” it stated, noting that as of the report’s publication, several pending bills in the Legislature would establish a financial education curriculum required for graduation.

The 2023 analysis found that 65% (or 34 states including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) earned either an “A” or a “B.” This is a stark difference compared to the foundation’s 2021 report card that found only 17 states earning high marks, it stated.

“While it is extremely encouraging to see so many states making the right decisions for their students since our last report card was released, there is still much work to be done,” said David Pickler, executive director of the American Public Education Foundation.

“The 35% of states that earned a ‘C’ or less is what we are focused on. The American Public Education Foundation will continue fighting for financial literacy, and our goal is to continue producing this report card until all 50 states, our capital, and Puerto Rico earn ‘A’s’ across the board,” he said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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