Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Personal finance class now part of schools' curriculum
Ninth-graders (from left) Tyoshla Redd, Alexis Jamison and Nitaysha Mitchell log in to Virtual Virginia for their economics and personal finance class Aug. 27 at Martinsville High School. The course uses blended learning, or a combination of online learning modules with classroom instruction. (Contributed photo)
Monday, September 3, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
As of this school year, high school students are required to take an economic and personal finance course as a state graduation requirement.
In the city schools, students are taking their economic and personal finance course through Virtual Virginia as well, according to Aji Dixon, principal at Martinsville High School.
The course is a graduation requirement for entering freshman this year and freshman classes that come after, Dixon said.
The Virtual Virginia curriculum supplements the instruction that teachers offer in class. It’s a “hybrid form of instruction” with Virtual Virginia professors providing instruction online and then teachers at the high school providing instruction as well, Dixon said.
Business department teachers are teaching the 127 students enrolled in the course this year, he added.
Last year, the high school used a program called EverFi, which is an interactive curriculum to help to increase students’ understanding of personal finances, how to write checks and what credit scores are, Dixon said. EverFi was offered to all students as an elective in the business department, he added.
EverFi also is being used some this year in conjunction with the Virtual Virginia course, Dixon said.
The financial literacy requirement is beneficial because “anything we can do to make our students to do better in life after high school, the better off our community will be,” Dixon said.
Starting next year, the Virginia Department of Education also will require students to take at least one virtual course to graduate. Through Virtual Virginia, students will be able to meet both requirements, Dixon said.
In Henry County Schools, the semester-long course is being taught in a traditional classroom setting. Social studies, marketing and business teachers are certified to teach the course and were trained over the summer in preparation for the new requirement this year, said Superintendent Dr. Jared Cotton.
Entering ninth and tenth graders are required to take the course before graduating; current juniors and seniors are not required, Cotton said.
The students can take the course at any point during their high school years, but the school system is encouraging them to take the course during their 10th-grade year so that students are not scrambling at the last minute to take the course when they are seniors, Cotton said.
Currently, 251 students are enrolled in the course with a majority of them being 10th-graders, according to Cotton.
The online option for the course is being looked into for the future as the school system looks to expand online course opportunities for students overall, Cotton said.
The course teaches “workplace readiness skills that our students need to have,” he said.
The state did not provide additional funding for the course, but the school system had time to prepare for its implementation, Cotton said.
Prior to the requirement, financial lessons were taught in certain career and technical education courses, but not all students participated. The requirement “ensures that all students have the experience” of learning those skills, Cotton said.
Also, economic and personal finance concepts were taught previously in math and social studies courses, but the new course is “much more on the application” of the concepts with students developing their own budget plan and learning to manage their own money, Cotton said.
In Patrick County Schools, the students take the semester-long course online through Virtual Virginia, according to Moriah Dollarhite, principal at Patrick County High School.
The students complete the online curriculum with a Patrick County High School teacher present as a facilitator during the class, Dollarhite said.
Two teachers were trained as facilitators through training offered by the state, she added.
In the class, students learn about budgeting, banking, insurance, taxes, how credit works, investing and how to live independently, Dollarhite said.
The entering freshmen class (and those hereafter) is required to take the course before graduating; students currently in the other grade levels are not required to take the course, but it is offered to 10th-graders as an elective, Dollarhite said.
Dollarhite feels that the course requirement is a step in the right direction because students need to know the basics for financial decisions before entering adulthood, she said. Learning how to save money and budget for the future are “good skills to have,” she added.
Also, by offering the course online, it’s a good opportunity for students to become accustomed to the online class format, which they may experience in college, Dollarhite said.