Grade 10 students from Martingrove Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, Ont., participate in a financial literacy seminar on Feb. 26, 2020. ANDREW RYAN

Ontario’s high-school students will be required to pass a financial literacy test to earn a diploma, starting in the 2025-26 school year.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that plans are under way to develop a financial literacy component in the Grade 10 math curriculum, as well as a high-stakes test, for September, 2025.

“Too many young people, notwithstanding valiant effort in our schools, are graduating without those fundamental financial literacy skills,” Mr. Lecce said at a news conference at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“This elevates the criteria, it elevates the standard, and forces all of us, educators, government, families, and students, to work harder and smarter to elevate that knowledge from theoretical knowledge to practical knowledge that they can apply every day in their lives.”

The new financial literacy requirement will provide students the skills to create and manage a household budget, save for a home and learn to invest, the government said.

Students in Grade 10 will be required to earn 70 per cent or higher on the test.

Teens who don’t pass in the first attempt will be given a second opportunity to write the test in Grade 10. If they are not successful by the end of the Grade 10 math program, they will be enrolled in a credit recovery course where students will focus on learning concepts and meeting expectations.

The model is similar to the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which students must pass in order to graduate.

The government said the financial literacy test will be developed by TVO, a publicly funded network that has expanded its mandates to offer online courses, and the Education Quality and Accountability Office, which administers the province’s standardized tests in reading, writing and math.

Mr. Lecce said he’s heard from parents and employers who are demanding that students learn financial literacy skills.

“It’s critical that students know how to create and manage a budget, to save for a home and their retirement and how to protect themselves from financial fraud. Too many parents and employers and students themselves tell me that young people are graduating without the sufficient financial literacy or those basic life skills,” he said.

Karen Littlewood, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, welcomed the introduction of the financial literacy requirement but was concerned about how teachers would deliver it in an already jam-packed math curriculum.

“I think it should be an essential part of the curriculum. I’m just concerned about fitting everything in,” Ms. Littlewood said in an interview Thursday.

She said that her teachers’ union was not consulted and that she hoped the government would discuss it further with educators before rolling it out in schools.

As part of the announcement on Thursday, Mr. Lecce also said the government would consult with parents and experts in the fall about reintroducing home economics education. Students would learn practical life skills, such as cooking and nutrition, changing a tire and sewing a button.

It would “help students prepare for life even well beyond the classroom,” Mr. Lecce said.

Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, said in an e-mailed statement that it is necessary to educate students on personal finance and life skills so that they have an equal opportunity to succeed. She said that school boards would work with the government to implement the initiatives.

The government also announced that it would provide funding for career coaches for students in Grades 9 and 10 to help them explore careers in the skilled trades and other economic sectors.

The Globe and Mail, May 30, 2024