Business math to become Personal Financial Literacy

In the 2024-25 school year, TPHS will offer a Personal Financial Literacy course, a district-wide replacement for the current Business Math class.

Business Math is offered to seniors and fulfills the Mathematics, Practical Arts or Electives TPHS graduation requirement.

The move to replace the course was an initiative by Business Math teachers across SDUHSD high schools.

“Teachers for the [Business Math] course really think that the personal financial literacy aspect is way more important to focus on,” Integrated Math 2 and Business Math teacher Stephanie Pearson said. “Students enjoy learning it more because … it’s more applicable to their everyday life and future.”

Instead of learning traditional mathematics, instruction in personal finance aims to convey financial knowledge that students can rely on to make future financial decisions.

“It really helps seniors out because we’re about to go off to college, going to be more independent and open our own credit cards,” Business Math student Josie Robbins (12) said.

The Personal Financial Literacy course, sharing the qualities of Business Math, will cover topics including checking and savings accounts, types of credit, managing credit, paying for college, budgeting, investing, taxes, career planning and insurance.

While the foundational content remains the same, new textbooks will be piloted next school year.

At TPHS, the class no longer follows a Business Math textbook, but instead is being taught according to a personal finance-based curriculum. The new textbook will align with, rather than change, the current direction of the class.

The replacement is also an effort to standardize existing variations in the Business Math curriculum across the district.

“I think the district realized that the content was different at each school site, and we wanted to make it more streamlined across campuses and make it a better course for students,” Pearson said.

Business Math is currently CSU/UC approved, and articulates with Mira Costa College. Students enrolled in Mira Costa College who earn a final grade of “B” or higher in the class receive three units of college credit for Mira Costa’s Accounting 158 course. Business Math can also earn students college credit at CSU schools, but not at UC schools.

SDUHSD administrators have applied to Mira Costa College for the new Personal Financial Literacy course to be eligible for college credit there; a decision on that issue will not be made until April.

Aside from receiving college credit, teachers and students recognize the value of learning financial fluency during the high school years.

“I think it should be one of the core classes you should have to take because it just reminds [students] to learn how to be financially responsible,” Lauren Panebianco (12), a Business Math student, said.

California lawmakers are also beginning to recognize the value of such courses. California Initiative 23-0022, which began accepting submissions on Nov. 9, 2023, states that one semester of a personal finance course in high school would be added as a graduation requirement, and may appear on the ballot later this year. If adopted, the requirement will become applicable with the graduating class of 2030. The initiative also mandates that high schools offer a personal finance course that meets the A-G requirements by the 2026-27 academic year.

“I really hope the California bill gets passed and that [the state] requires every student to take personal finance because it is applicable to your life and there’s no better time to learn it,” Kaitlin Hildebrand, an AP Calculus AB and Business Math teacher, said.

With such California initiatives currently in motion and SDUHSD’s development of the Personal Financial Literacy course, a wider implementation of personal finance education might be in the near future.

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