Massachusetts Financial Literacy Standards

Every state in the U.S. receives a biannual grade from the American Public Education Foundation (APEF) Report Card, which ranks state financial literacy standards in schools. For the most recent year in the APEF initiative – 2022 – the Bay State earned a “C” in that regard. While Massachusetts has no financial literacy-specific requirement for high school graduation, legislation enacted in 2019 did require that the state’s Department of Education establish standards that “promote an understanding of personal finances” within its Curriculum Framework.

In 2012, the Massachusetts State Legislature launched a three-year grant titled the Financial Literacy Pilot Program, which was implemented in 11 high schools in 10 Gateway Cities. This pilot stated a mission to “equip high school students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become self-supporting and make critical decisions regarding personal finances.” The evaluation showed gains in financial literacy among most of the students who participated. The APEF suggests that Massachusetts could earn a higher grade if the pilot program models were applied to create a standalone personal finance class required for high school graduation.

MA Financial Education Standards by Grade Level

Although the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released curriculum standards related to financial literacy that are aligned with the Senate Bill 2374 (Chapter 438) legislation signed in 2019, the standards do not adequately cover all grades K-12. Massachusetts does provide a personal finance resource guide broken down by grade and availability of professional development for teaching the subject.

Financial Education Requirements K – 3rd Grade
Financial Education Requirements 4th – 6th Grade
Financial Education Requirements 7th – 8th Grade
Financial Education Requirements

“Standards” may be a somewhat subjective term when it comes to defining what guidelines are in place with regard to financial literacy. The “Chapter 438 of the Acts of 2018, An Act Relative to Financial Literacy in Schools“, which was signed into law in 2019, has the word throughout its text. And while these standards are required to be incorporated into existing high school courses, a standalone course or a specific assessment on personal finance is not required in high school.

MA Financial Literacy Standards Review – NFEC Ranking

Massachusetts has no current financial literacy mandates. The proposed Bill 4199, “An Act Related to Personal Finance,” fails to meet the minimum education standards for other core subjects taught in high school; and students who complete the coursework proposed will not be prepared for near-term financial challenges. Read more about Bill 4199.

Overall Breakdown of Bill 4199

National Standards for Financial Education

Financial Literacy Standards for Older Youth & Adults (High School through Adults)

Although there is no direct mandate by the Massachusetts State Board of Education, it is recommended that national standards be implemented. Financial education is a unique subject; all participants have developed financial habits and relationships with money before instruction begins.

National standards are those that have been proven in empirical and theoretical research to produce the highest improvements in participant test scores.

Financial Literacy Standards for Kids (Kids PK through 8th Grade)

In collaboration with education leader Heidi Jacobs, the NFEC created these financial literacy standards to define learning goals and educational targets for optimal child financial education. Guided by strong pedagogical theory, the standards ensure that instructional targets are age- and developmentally-appropriate and that lessons can be effectively scaffolded. Standards represent five sections based on topic areas in the NFEC curriculum.

Standards for Financial Education Instructors

The NFEC teamed with the well-known Danielson Group to develop the first and only national standards for financial educators – The Framework for Teaching Personal Finance – to define optimal educator skill sets and performance levels. The framework also identifies the financial educator responsibilities empirically proven to produce highest gains in participant test scores. This framework is used in all 50 states, including Massachusetts.


American Public Education Foundation (2020). The Nation’s Report Card on Financial Literacy,

AFSA Education Foundation.

Chapter 438 of the Acts of 2018, An Act Relative to Financial Literacy in Schools

Ellis Cropper comments on Massachusetts financial literacy standards