Invest Ed Helping Teachers Help Students Secure Financial Futures


The Invest Ed Teacher Institutes trained 66 Oklahoma high school educators in June in the Students Tracking and Researching the Stock Market (STARS) Program to prepare students for financial independence. Administrators give credit for their ninth year of success to the program’s relevance and the STARS staff access and support.

At the Invest Ed Teacher Institute, an OU Outreach program held in Norman, teachers received free training in teaching equities, investment, stock research, time value of money and fraud prevention, qualifying them to administer the STARS program curriculum in their classrooms.

“Nobody has to be a math teacher to understand this,” said Patti Palmer, English, psychology and life skills teacher at Calvin High School. “I really enjoyed myself. I was so worried that I would drown in stats and other numbers, but I learned so much and everyone was so friendly and inviting. It was the best, most useful conference I’ve been to in 24 years.”

The Teacher Institute’s two four-day workshops began July 2005. As of May, 1,557 state teachers have been trained and 25,573 students have participated.

“The program is wildly successful,” said Irving Faught, Oklahoma Securities Commission administrator. “We measure our success by changing one person’s life.”

The spring semester 2014 had 1,914 student participants—a record high for the STARS program.

“STARS students receive free training that provides for a path to financial literacy,” explained Jo Ann Dysart, STARS project director.

STARS’ goals include teaching students how to achieve financial freedom and raising securities fraud awareness. Students research investments, assess risk, set goals, create and track online portfolios and, at the project’s conclusion, write a report. The required report differentiates this program from other online stock portfolio programs, said Dysart.

“The students don’t try to achieve investment statistics in order to beat somebody in a game,” Faught said. “They analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and then they write about it.”

Rather than provide advice in investment strategy or speculation, STARS is a classroom learning experience that teaches students skills that are important for managing their personal finances, by educating them on the risks and benefits of saving and investment, according to program literature.

“Nobody cares about your money like you do,” Faught said at the Teacher Institute.

The conference changes to adhere to change in today’s economy, finance, and government policy. Faught explained that the program is a success because it is relevant and evolves with the times.

Invest Ed added Refresher Workshops to its summer events June 2007. The workshops offer participating STARS teachers a two-day opportunity to increase their knowledge and share best practices.

Through the STARS initiative, a recognized fulfillment of the Passport to Financial Literacy Act of 2007, requiring financial literacy education to be administered to communities, University Outreach is working to help students achieve a financially stable adulthood.

“We did not come into being as a result of House Bill 1476; we were already going strong at that point,” Dysart said. “We came into existence because high school is not too early to form good habits and to learn to make wise financial choices.”

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