The Province of British Columbia (BC), Canada
British Columbia has a financial literacy course as part of its core curriculum. Developed by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), the goal of the “Planning 10” course is to give students the financial life-skills they need as adults. It was introduced into schools in 2005 and in the same year, it received Provincially Recommended status from the BC Ministry of Education. The BCSC has undertaken an ongoing programme to monitor the use and effectiveness of their Planning 10 financial education course and the Planning 10 Teacher Resource.
Working with a survey company, the BCSC designed an email survey to gather teachers’ feedback on their use and rating of the “Planning 10” resources in the 20042005 school years. The survey was repeated the following year. The following are key findings from the comparison of the survey data across the two years:
- • Resource use increased 14 percent.
- • Overall positive resource rating increased slightly.
- • Overall use of resource materials decreased slightly.
- • Student use of the resource increased by 30 percent.
BCSC are using the data from these surveys as a guide to update and refresh the resource.
In the summer of 2006, the BCSC worked with a research company to design pre- and post- tests to gather student feedback about “Planning 10”. Students were asked to indicate their responses to questions both before and after being exposed to the “Planning 10” course materials. Forty-two students were divided into two classes and were taught “Planning 10”: Finances over four days. Key findings from the research were:
- • The majority of students found the topics interesting, engaging and easy to understand.
- • 85% rated the course “B” or higher.
- • Students were most likely to use the financial life skills topic and vulnerability to fraud.
To gather further feedback from students about the “Planning 10” resource, the BCSC also conducted a student focus-group in one of the province’s high schools. Students were asked about the key characters in the student resource and the feedback has been used to inform the ongoing development of the resource.
BCSC undertook two high school graduate outcome surveys with one school district in BC in 2007 and 2008. For the past 14 years, this school district had assessed high school graduates (two years after they've graduated) on the following:
- • whether or not the graduates had gained employment;
- • whether or not they had gone on to post-secondary education or training;
- • whether or not their school learning and experiences had prepared them for life, work and further education.
In previous surveys, the graduates did not feel that their high school education had prepared them enough to manage their finances. To assess the recent graduates’ current financial life skills and whether their high school experience had prepared them to manage their finances, the 2007 survey added thirteen questions. The BCSC developed these questions in consultation with the research firm and the school district. By surveying recent high school graduates, the BCSC wanted to find out if young adults in BC were becoming more financially literate as a result of taking the mandatory Planning 10 Finances course.
The methodology involved the use of current high school students to conduct the survey with recent graduates as the school district found that the graduates were more responsive when being surveyed by students. Key findings were that the 2008 graduates learned more about managing their finances than 2006 graduates. The researchers concluded that Planning 10 Finances, taken by the 2008 graduates, may account for this increased learning. The BCSC considers this survey as longitudinal research and plans to continue to work with the school district on surveying graduates and finding out how they are managing their financial lives.
For the past five years, BCSC has also been tracking the use of Planning 10 website. The evaluation of Planning 10 by the BCSC has provided ongoing evidence of the effectiveness of the resource. This was important in influencing the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) when it was reviewing financial education initiatives across Canada to identify successful programmes. On the strength of the evidence of the success of Planning 10, FCAC partnered with the BCSC to build on this initiative and extend it across Canada in a resource called “The City”.