ETHS students receive certificates in financial literacy after completing the TCF Bank Financial Scholars Program. Photo by Hannah Prokop

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Evanston Township High School is working to better students’ skills in financial literacy. On  May 20, students at ETHS were honored for achieving certification in financial literacy after completing the TCF Bank Financial Scholars Program.

TCF Bank partnered with EverFi, Inc., to bring the interactive, web-based program to ETHS and other local high schools at no cost, according to EverFi.

Stacey Nord-Hamilton, an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) teacher at ETHS who used the program, said it takes about 30 to 40 minutes for the students to pass each of nine modules. These modules cover the topics of savings, banking, credit cards, credit scores, financing higher education, renting versus owning, taxes and insurance, consumer fraud and investing.

Ms. Nord-Hamilton’s students were given two weeks to complete the online program and had six days in class to work on it, she said. The rest had to be completed at home.

Ms. Nord-Hamilton said one of her students did not understand financial topics such as credit scores and taxes, but after the program she had a better understanding of these topics.

In her class of 40 AVID students, only two did not finish the program and receive the certificate. Ms. Nord-Hamilton said she would “absolutely” use the EverFi program again.

Participating in the TCF Financial Scholar’s Program is just part of the way ETHS is teaching consumer education.

Shelley Gates, Career and Technical Education Department chair at ETHS, said the state of Illinois requires all high school students to take a course to learn about financial literacy. Sean Pitt, the outgoing student representative on the District 202 Board, asked that ETHS talk about the financial literacy curriculum and wanted to make sure that there was standardization so all students had the basics, Ms. Gates said.

The career and tech departments have been working on a common assessment for financial literacy. Some have already used the assessment, but it needs to be tweaked a little bit, Ms. Gates said. 

Ms. Gates described the EverFi program as being a supplemental program and not part of the curriculum. However, she said EverFi could become part of the curriculum. Administrators will look into that possibillity this summer.

“EverFi is definitely something that I know the teachers in my department are really happy with, and it’s a good teaching tool, but there are a lot of other good programs as well,” Ms. Gates said.

This summer, she said, the Career and Technical Education Department will work on coming up with the units and areas they want to focus on, and teachers will have some flexibility on which programs they want to use.