The case for financial literacy instruction

The Canadian Council on Learning recently released a report on the need for financial literacy instruction. This report highlighted recommendations from the Canadian Task Force on Financial Literacy and found that financial literacy instruction is a critical component to help citizens make responsible financial decisions that will help them achieve their personal goals and enhance their quality of life.

In this sense, financial literacy is “the ability to apply to apply knowledge across a range of contexts (both predictable and unexpected situations), and includes the ability to manage and resolve financial problems and opportunities” (Cappon, 2010, slide 7).

The task force argues that students, too, need to be equipped with 1) the knowledge of personal and broader financial matters, 2) the related skills to apply this knowledge appropriately in a variety of situations, and 3) the self-assurance to make necessary financial decisions confidently. As such, financial education and learning is an “essential skill” that needs to be included in the local school curriculum. In fact, it has been noted that the OECD will be including a financial education component in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (Cappon, 2010, slide 6).

Clearly, time needs to be set aside to address this important subject in our schools.

Important topics that need to be addressed include learning about budgeting, saving, investing, borrowing, keeping financial information safe, credit ratings and using credit wisely, understanding your rights and responsibilities as consumers, dealing with financial institutions, etc.

This instruction should address both the day-to-day situations that high school students may face, such as comparing prices online or saving for the latest gadget, and also help prepare them for future financial encounters, such as managing day-to-day living expenses in college, navigating financing options for a car or a home mortgage, deciding on investments, etc.

Ultimately, any instruction in fostering financial literacy should assist students to come to understand the economic implications of their financial decisions. Moreover, such instruction in a Christian High School is particularly important as it provides a discipleship opportunity to foster a biblical view of finance and stewardship of money.


Canadian Council on Learning. (2010, Dec.). Money-wise: The growing importance of financial literacy in Canada.  Retrieved Dec. 14, 2010 at

Cappon, P. (2010). The Changing face of literacy: The financial literacy imperative. Accessed Dec. 14, 2010 at

Task Force on Financial Literacy. Accessed Dec. 14, 2010.

Centrality of mission to the Christian school

I am learning that my understanding of Christian education is not as well developed as I would like. For this reason, I have been selecting some key resources that will help me to better understand Christian education and the Christian schooling movement. I plan on sharing some of the insights I am gathering in this blog site.

I very quickly noticed how different publications repeatedly emphasize the centrality of a carefully articulated mission statement to the Christian school. As Frost (2007) summarizes, the best, or most successful Christian schools reveal a “passion” (p. 39) for its mission. The mission serves as the school’s purpose and should distinguish the school as being Christian. The mission should drive excellence in the building. When conscientiously considered and acted upon, this mission should influence policies, financial decisions, the day-to-day interactions, etc. of the school. Perhaps most importantly, the mission should provide energy and focus for the curriculum. It should answer the question “What do we expect students to be like when they leave our school?”

Mission measurement should be a whole school community effort. It should involve the Christian school board, the administration, the teachers and even the students. It should address the mission as it applies to the various disciplines that make up the school’s curriculum. Students, too, need to be asked questions that reflect the mission and its goals. Alternative forms of student assessment such as portfolios, projects and performance exhibitions can help determine overall mission attainment. In addition to assessment activities that follow classroom instruction, mission assessment can also take various other formats such as alumni and community surveys, and accreditation reviews.

I am learning that most, if not all, Christian schools have a carefully articulated mission statement. Most, if not all, appear to work conscientiously towards fulfilling their mission. However, the biggest lesson I learned in reviewing From mission to measurement (Vander Ark, 2000) is that far too many Christian schools drift away from their mission over time by failing to assess the school’s attainment on their mission. This is a key component that needs to be remembered and addressed to keep the Christian school’s mission central to all life and purpose of the school.


Frost, G. (2007). Learning from the best: Growing greatness in the Christian school. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International.

Vander Ark, D. (2000). From mission to measurement. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International.

Categorizing my thinking

Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University recently launched the Developing Effective Schools Center (DESC), a national research and development center on identifying programs, practices, processes and policies that make some high schools more effective at reaching certain students than others. The DESC notes that consensus has grown among practitioners and researchers around the essential components of a successful high school. These include quality instruction, a rigorous curriculum, a culture of learning, professional behavior, connections to external communities, systemic use of data, system performance accountability, and learner-centered leadership.

Marzano (2003) reviewed 35 years of research of ‘what works in schools.’ He organized his results into three general factors of  influence on student achievement. These are 1) school-level factors (viable curriculum, challenging goals and effective feedback, parent and community involvement, safe and orderly environment), 2) teacher-level factors (instructional strategies, classroom management, classroom curriculum design), and 3) student-level factors (home atmosphere, learned intelligence and background knowledge, motivation).

As I reviewed the two lists, I wondered if considering these components and categories would be helpful as I continue to organize my thoughts regarding a new Christian high school. It seemed that each component and category could be applied to a Christian education context with little difficulty. I then recalled my recent site visitation experience at Monroe Christian School which introduced me to the accreditation standards that are central Christian Schools International. These are Standards 1) Community, 2) Staff, 3) Students, and 4) Curriculum. I mapped my understanding of the components suggested by DESC and the Marzano categories of what works in schools to the four CSI Standards and decided to include those additional components that a private institution needs to consider. This led to following organizing framework:

1. School

  • centrality of vision and mission of the Christian school (including the philosophical foundation of education/school)
  • connections to external communities (including parent and community involvement)
  • responsibilities & relationships among all participants in the learning process (including the student-level factors of home atmosphere, motivation, and learned intelligence and background knowledge)
  • systemic use of data to guide decision-making and inform system performance
  • facilities

2. Teacher

  • teacher development and support
  • healthy, professional, and biblical teacher leadership
  • developing a culture of learning

3. Students

  • discipleship and development
  • student services & programs
  • enrollment (admissions & retention)
  • graduation requirement

4. Curriculum & Instruction

  • a guaranteed, viable & rigorous curriculum
  • quality instruction & classroom management
  • learning environment
  • educational technology

I am going to start categorize and/or tag my posts in this blog according to this framework. This should help me as I continue to reflect and act upon this “whisper” for a Christian High School.


Christian Schools International. (2006). Vision to action. Retrieved October 12, 2010 at

Marzano, R. J. (2003). What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Peabody College of Education. (2010, Fall). Ideas in action. Peabody Reflector. 11.