Digital Tools Key to Financial Literacy, According to Study by Certell and Project Tomorrow

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 16, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The vast majority of high school students are not financially literate but respond well to economics and personal finance courses that include digital tools in their curriculum, according to a new study by Project Tomorrow and Certell, creator of the Poptential™ family of free, award-winning social studies course packages. Click to tweet.

According to the study, just 10% of teachers say that their students are at a level of proficiency higher than basic when beginning an economics course, and 53% report students at below basic proficiency levels.

“This lack of financial literacy among high school students shows why basic economics and personal finance courses should be required in high school,” said Fred Fransen, CEO of Certell. “Today, just 25 states require that students take an economics course in order to graduate, and just 15 require personal finance. If students don’t improve their understanding of economics and finance at the high school level, they may never be exposed to it.”

When it comes to teaching economics and personal finance, instructors report that they value the use of digital storytelling, popular culture, and simulations/games because they help connect the dots between theory and real life, according to the study. Teachers surveyed said the digital tools and resources they incorporate to support instruction include:

81% integrate digital content or online resources within most lessons
77% use digital, video or online games within instruction
76% customize digital content to meet classroom needs
68% use an online curriculum with students
63% include pop culture or multimedia references or content

The use of popular culture references (98%) and simulations (98%) are considered especially valuable for conveying key concepts. The most used pop culture content includes videos, music, TV episodes, and social media including TikTok videos.

Other interesting findings of the study include:

  • Teachers face challenges in using digital content to support teaching and learning goals.
    • 59% lack the time to find appropriate content for their class
    • 48% don’t have the authority to license or purchase digital content
    • 43% cannot find content that meets the different ability levels in the class
  • Instructors with experience are more comfortable teaching economics and personal finance, yet teachers with less experience are more comfortable using simulations during instruction.
    • 64% of the teachers surveyed overall say they are very comfortable teaching economics or personal finance. Only 11% of teachers with less than 3 years of experience with this content consider themselves very comfortable, and an additional 11% note that they are not comfortable at all.
    • 90% of teachers with just 1-3 years of experience are comfortable using simulations, compared to just 59% of teachers with 16+ years of experience.
  • Teachers using Poptential from Certell e-books and supporting content feel they are more effective.
    • 66% of the teachers say that their use of Poptential allows them to create more interactive and relevant lessons.
    • 50% of the teachers say that their use of Poptential helps them facilitate greater collaboration opportunities for their students.

In total, 257 classroom teachers representing schools in 34 states participated in the research study. 29% report using Certell Poptential e-books and supporting content within their courses. The study is available on the Poptential website.

About Certell, Inc.
Certell is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to foster a generation of independent thinkers. More than 100,000 users from throughout the United States have signed up to use Certell’s Poptential™ family of free social studies courses, and thousands more students are reached through Certell’s college-level courses in law and economics, and SensibleSchool™ instruction for home-schoolers, employees, and inmates. Certell course packages have won several awards, including EdTech Digest Awards for Curriculum and Instruction Solution, Tech&Learning Best Tool for Back to School, Tech Edvocate Awards, Bronze Award of Excellence from the National Association of Economics Educators, and Civvys Awards. More information about Poptential™ is available at

About Project Tomorrow
Project Tomorrow is a nationally recognized, education nonprofit organization with a focus on understanding the impact of new learning models and interventions on student outcomes and teacher effectiveness. Our mission is to help education, business and policy leaders make the best decisions for education through the effective use of research-based insights that highly leverage the authentic views and perspectives of K-12 stakeholders, notably students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Our work includes the highly regarded Speak Up Research Project and an annual series of customized evaluation, feedback and efficacy studies that examine key trends in education. Learn more at

For information contact:

Mara Conklin, (847) 340-6823

Kathy Zoeller, (312) 485-2422