When the Jump$tart Coalition first began measuring financial literacy in 1997, the term was literally unknown. Over the next decade, Jump$tart’s Survey of Financial Literacy Among High School Students became one of the most widely referenced resources in understanding what young people know—and don’t know—about personal finance.
The Jump$tart Survey, as it came to be known, was written by Lewis Mandell, Ph.D., currently of the Aspen Institute and the University of Washington. He conducted the first survey of high school seniors on behalf of the Jump$tart Coalition in 1997, and then repeated it biennially between 2000 and 2008. In 2008, he administered the survey to college students, as well.
Dr. Mandell’s book, The Financial Literacy of Young American Adults, outlines results of the 2008 surveys, as well as the history of the survey research. It can be downloaded as a .pdf file at no cost. The actual high school and college surveys, including responses, are also available here.
Each year, results of the Jump$tart Survey have been announced at a press conference at the Federal Reserve Board. Chairman Ben Bernanke has been the featured speaker at each press conference since 2004. Chairman Bernanke’s Remarks, 2008 Press Conference.
In 2010, the Jump$tart Coalition announced that it had hired Learning Point Associates, now part of the American Institutes for Research, an independent non-profit research firm, to develop and administer “Version 2” of Jump$tart’s survey research, building on the foundation laid by Dr. Mandell, while striving to take the research project to new levels. Funded generously by a seed grant from Bank of America, the research team at AIR has strengthened the survey methodology, developed a pool of new questions, and has migrated the test from paper-and-pencil to a secure, online format. The survey is currently being pilot tested. Look for new announcements here.
Additional funding is needed to administer the new survey. Interested sponsors/funders should contact Jump$tart.
Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy