The mission of the Virginia Council on Economic Education is to provide Virginia's students with the economic knowledge and financial skills needed to thrive in our dynamic economy.
The Virginia Council on Economic Education (VCEE) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to have all Virginia students graduate with the economic knowledge and financial skills needed to thrive in our dynamic economy. VCEE seeks to infuse economic and financial education in each grade level (K-12) so that Virginia students will gain a basic understanding of how our economy works and develop the lifelong decision-making skills needed to be effective and informed citizens, consumers, savers, investors, and productive employees and innovative entrepreneurs . Founded in 1969, VCEE is a public-private partnership funded by businesses, foundations, individuals, universities and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
To most effectively pursue its mission, VCEE seeks systematic changes that will most directly benefit students. The Council has been, and continues to be, a strong partner and advocate at the state level, as well as with local schools and school divisions, for including basic economic principles and personal finance in Virginia’s K-12 classrooms.
Teacher education is the Council’s primary means for reaching students, on the premise that by educating a teacher, one can reach hundreds or even thousands of students over the span of the teacher’s career. Research shows that n effective teacher is a significant, if not primary factor, in student learning and achievement. Resources and professional development opportunities for teachers are delivered through a statewide network of affiliated university-based centers for economic education.
Utilizing these centers, VCEE builds and nurtures ongoing relationships with school divisions and their teachers. Annually, VCEE’s centers help K-12 teachers to gain the background and to receive curriculum and materials to effectively deliver the essentials of economics and personal finance that today’s students need.
The greatest challenge for any teacher is motivating students to learn. VCEE and affiliated centers provide teachers with hands-on materials and activities to help them achieve this goal. In addition to teacher classes at all grade levels, programs include: the Stock Market Game ™, a statewide competition for grades 4-12, allowing student teams to invest and manage a $100,000 portfolio. Students research stocks, study how capital markets work, and learn about saving and investing. Mini-Economy and Mini-Society® programs offer elementary and middle school students the chance to act out real-life experiences in entrepreneurship. Economics Challenge gives middle and high school students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of economic concepts in an academic competition. Color the Economic Concepts Contest, co-sponsored with The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, gives students the opportunity to illustrate their knowledge of economic concepts in a creative and fun way.
VCEE is affiliated with the Council on Economic Education at the national level.
Collaboration takes place on a number of levels.
Universities that are partners in supporting centers for economic education.
Christopher Newport University, George Mason University, James Madison University, Lynchburg College, Old Dominion University, Radford University, UVA’s College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech.
VA Department of Education and the Board of Education as well as local school divisions
The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond
In connection with the Virginia High School Economics and Personal Finance Initiative, leaders in the financial services industry have stepped up and provided initial funding to enable VCEE and affiliated university-based centers for economic education to provide professional development for high school teachers—Bank of America Charitable Foundation, BB&T Charitable Foundation, Capital One, Genworth Foundation, SunTrust Mid-Atlantic Foundation, Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation, Virginia Credit Union, and Wachovia/Wells Fargo. The following organizations participated in developing instructional materials and making presentations at the personal finance institutes—Virginia Bankers Association, Bureau of Insurance/State Corporation Commission, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Virginia Department of Taxation, and the Financial Planning Association. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond assisted with the economics institutes.
Teacher education is the Council’s primary means for reaching students, on the premise that by educating a teacher, one can reach hundreds or even thousands of students over the span of the teacher’s career. It’s undisputed in the research that having an effective teacher is a significant factor in student learning and achievement. VCEE and its affiliated university-based centers for economic education seek to be a strong partner for Virginia’s K-12 teachers by providing resources and professional development opportunities, at little to no charge, around Virginia’s economics related SOLs. VCEE and affiliated centers build and nurture ongoing relationships with school divisions and their teachers to promote and enhance economics education. In 2010, more than 2,500 teachers (totaling more than 18,000 contact hours) participated in programs to gain the background and receive materials to effectively deliver the essentials of economics and personal finance that today’s students need.
Beginning with students entering the ninth grade in 2011, they must pass an economics and personal finance course in order to graduate. VCEE is working in a number of ways to help ensure the successful implementation of this course. It served as a resource for Virginia’s Board of Education in its adoption of Economic and Personal Finance Standards of Learning (SOLs) and curriculum framework. The SOLs are a model for other states in terms of the concepts, knowledge and skills that students are supposed to learn.
Because many teachers will be new to teaching this course, VCEE has developed and launched a five-year Professional Development Plan (2010 – 2015) to provide an estimated 2,000 teachers the knowledge, creative lessons, and materials to teach these new SOLs. Implemented with support from the public and private sectors, teachers are provided a 42-hour economics institute and a 40-hour personal finance institute available at no charge unless taken for college credit.
The Stock Market Game™ is a competition for grades 4-12, allowing student teams to invest and manage a virtual $100,000 portfolio. Students research stocks, study how capital markets work, and learn about saving and investing. This online program is valuable teaching tool in math, social studies, business, economics, and language skills while also focusing on the importance of long-term saving and investment. The program includes 10-week competitions each semester and a year-long option that allow student teams to compare the performance of their portfolios with other teams in Virginia and their region. Several studies have shown the value of this program for student learning. For example, an independent study released in August 2009 by Learning Point Associates found that participation in the Stock Market Game™ substantially improved student math scores on standardized tests and improved student investor knowledge. The study also showed increased financial literacy for teachers.
The greatest challenge for any teacher is motivating students to learn. VCEE and its network of centers offer student programs that help teachers achieve this goal. Mini-Economy and Mini-Society® programs offer elementary and middle school students the chance to act out real-life experiences in entrepreneurship. Conducted as a unit of study, this high energy simulation focuses on economic and financial literacy, classroom management, and “real-world” market situations. Economics Challenge is open to any middle or high school student enrolled in a course that includes some economics and gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of economics concepts in an academic competition. Color the Economic Concepts Contest, co-sponsored with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, gives students a chance to illustrate their knowledge of economic concepts in a creative and fun way by designing a poster of any of the economics concepts included in the VA Standards of Learning.
Each year, VCEE encourages teachers to submit original and creative lesson plans that promote student understanding of economic principles and help make economic and financial decision-making skills come alive in the classroom. The top two lesson plans deemed outstanding in their ability to infuse economic and financial literacy concepts into the classroom curriculum are selected for the elementary level and the secondary level. Similar selections are made for units. Cash awards of $300 to $1,000 are provided. An Outstanding Economic Educator is also selected by each VCEE affiliated center to recognize the educator’s sustained history of commitment and contribution to economic and financial education. Each receives $100 and from these, Virginia's Outstanding Economic Educator of the Year is selected and awarded $1,000. All economic educators are recognized at a luncheon held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
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