Lydia Marcus-Staff Writer
The Dordt College Center for Economics Education (CEE) helped the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) develop new standards for economics and financial literacy. These standards will be released in the summer of 2017, and Dordt students have been involved in the process through the CEE.
CEEs are resources for K-12 teachers that aim to help these men and women gain the skills and knowledge necessary to teach economics and financial literacy. The Dordt CEE – along with other schools, banks and teachers – helped determine how the standards were worded and organized. The Dordt CEE intends to remain involved with the Iowa Department of Education (DOE) by aligning existing economics and financial literacy resources to the new standards. Dordt students will conduct much of the realignment work.
Senior elementary education major Fayth Ponsen began working for the CEE as a sophomore. After spending the year learning about the economics education resources available, Dordt hired Ponsen for the summer to help align these resources to the then-current economic and financial standards.
“I became really familiar with the standards! This is huge for me as a teacher,” said Ponsen.
The new standards address teaching complicated concepts in age-appropriate ways.
“For example, in the 1st grade standards, the main idea is ‘Analyze Credit and Debt Levels’ with a benchmark of ‘Explain why something borrowed must be returned.’ Complicated idea— appropriate approach,” Ponsen said.
“Being a part of this project allowed me to see how much variety there can be in reaching those standards and discovering how practical the standards can be.”
Last semester, Ponsen also trained then-junior business administration major Miranda Hulstein. Unfortunately, the realignment work Ponsen and Hulstein completed will become outdated once the new economics and financial literacy standards are released this summer.
“It was really discouraging to face the fact that Miranda and I had to basically realign everything that had been completed that summer, but it was exciting to hear that new standards with broader ideas and more applicability were coming up,” Ponsen said. “I think the new standards will be easier for teachers to use in their classroom.”
In the fall, Hulstein accompanied Dordt CEE Director Vicki Vermeer to Des Moines, where they met with about 20 other people at the Iowa DOE.
“We got to read through the new standards, see the new layout and give them our feedback,” Hulstein said. “Overall, we were extremely impressed with how they are now organized and how much easier they should be for teachers to follow.”
Currently, Hulstein is formatting the economics and financial literacy resources so they will be easily accessible to teachers and is brainstorming ways to advertise the resources to local teachers.
“Although I am not a teacher, I have found that I have a passion for teaching kids about economics and finances,” Hulstein said. “I think this is an easy subject to overlook, but it is so important for kids to learn because it really applies to ‘real life.’”