OECD PISA Looks at Students and Money and Asks: What’s the Level of Understanding?

The OECD PISA international assessment of financial literacy released last week reveals that around one in seven students in the 13 OECD participating countries and economies are unable to make even simple decisions about everyday spending, and only one in ten can solve complex financial tasks.

So, to answer the question posed in this post’s title: Not very high.

What was this study about?

PISA 2012 is the first large-scale international study to assess the financial literacy, learned in and outside of school, of 15-year-olds nearing the end of compulsory education. It assesses the extent to which students in 18 participating countries and economies have the knowledge and skills that are essential to make financial decisions and plans for their future.

What points did the study cover?

Four broad points were covered in the study:

  • Students’ performance on a financial literacy assessment across and within countries and economies.  In other words, what students know about financial literacy and how well they can apply what they know.
  • Relationship between financial literacy and student background, including factors like gender, socio-economic status, parents’ education, parents’ occupation, immigrant background, and language spoken at home.
  • Students’ experiences with money matters (through holding bank accounts and debit cards and through their sources of money), and their performance in the financial literacy assessment.
  • Selected policy and practical implications

How did the U.S. score compared to other countries?

American 15 year olds performed around the average of the 13 OECD countries and economics that participated in the assessment.  We will be posting in much greater detail about the U.S. assessment data next week, so be sure to check back or subscribe to updates in the upper right hand corner of this screen.

In the meantime, take the PISA financial literacy test questions yourself and see how you do.  Also, use the interactive data visualization tool below to compare countries’ survey performance (a full screen version is available here).   What was your reaction to the PISA study results?

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