Frequently Asked Questions

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REAL LIFE MATHEMATICS

Everyone can benefit from additional financial, tax, and investment knowledge. That said, students who need to graduate career and college ready and do well on their SAT, must have a solid foundation in Algebra and possibly Geometry and Trigonometry, although only 10% of the SAT is in those subject areas. Pre-calculus and calculus is needed for those students entering STEM college majors. Therefore, there is normally time to schedule the rigorous RLFM course and provide students with material they will use the rest of their lives.

Six reasons:

  1. The course is written by award-winning financial professionals with decades of experience in solving real-life financial problems. It is not written by a team of educators who, of course, have experienced personal finance but have not practiced personal finance.
  2. Because RLFM is a CTE funded course, districts receive on average $385 more funding per student enrolled in the one-year course than other math classes. One hundred students taking RLFM translates to $38,500 in addition funds.
  3. RLFM material is updated annually. This is a extremely important because finances, tax, college funding and career information changes daily. To keep the curriculum relevant and motivational, it must be updated. Who wants to read and make decisions on a five year old article from the Economist magazine? No one, yet it is our understanding that other publishers have made no commitments to update their materials. This situation translates into less accuracy and relevance for the student and more work for the instructor.
  4. Just like real-life, RLFM is challenging. It is not a fluff course. Students must master 102 Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS), which places RLFM as one of the most demanding courses to come out of the TEA process. In addition to the TEKS, RLFM is structured to teach students the skills they will need to be employable in the 21st century knowledge economy - critical thinking, problem-solving, communications, team-building, and project management.
  5. RLFM is a blended on-line one year course. Students learn to act independently and responsibly as they master the materials. Teachers guide students through projects and interactive questioning assignments and research designed to stimulate the prefrontal cortex of the brain. RLFM applies a new instructional methodology, supportive of T-TESS and Accomplishment & Accountability Standards and offers districts a new set of real-life outcomes, which go beyond passing  a final exam.
RLFM is the only course approved by TEA for financial mathematics. It is also accessible for those students who are  hearing and visually impaired.
In addition to the material being updated by the publisher, the material is modified to accommodate suggestions by instructors. In 2018, the following changes were made: At teacher request - The order of the Units was modified to reflect seniors taking the course and needing college funding and selection in the fall, rather than the spring. At teacher request - TEKS relevant to each Unit are identified at the beginning of the unit with essential statements and sentence stems. The introduction to each lesson has a new student Learning Objective to provide students guidance and focus. A new RLFM Index allows instructors to quickly view where material is laddered. New topics, links, videos are highlighted in red. If a link is broken, instructors can email D&A and we will fix it. At teacher request - A new Google Translate link is located with the Vocabulary to facilitate the translation of words to a second language. This is beneficial to ELL, ELPS and students who want to function in a world where having a second language adds to your marketability. Vocabulary is combined with Engage to save students time and increase their focus on using words in presentations and essays. A RLFM Table of Contents document is added to the course menu to get a better understanding of scope and sequence. Student Learning Outcomes and a Grading Matrix is added n the Instructor’s Guide to provide an alternative to a grading matrix heavily weighted on exams and tests. At teacher request - RLFM has a new end of Unit Quiz with automatic grading. At teacher request - Many students are not power users of adult applications, like Excel and Word. Because RLFM teaches significant information in only a year, teachers do not have the time to also teach computer skills. We therefore have students use a 5-section spiral notebook for assignment, quizzes, everything. Instructors have access to the notebook for reviewing student work and when the course is over, students can keep the notebook to implement their life plans in real-life. At teacher request - Several units were impacted by the tax law change of 2018 and these have been updated in the course material. In addition, the course content was reviewed with more than 50 updates added for increased relevancy. This will have also saved instructors more than 500 hours of out-of-school coursecreation work.
Both. Instructors may teach RLFM as a course. In this capacity they are more like Socrates, challenging students with questions, observing student interactions and advising students on projects and assignments. The financial, career, and PSE material serves as a foundation for the brain development cause and effect thinking exercises. As a course, the instructional methodology is different from the traditional modeled behavior, lecture, memorization instruction. Each unit builds on prior information, challenging students to create a vision for their future, and a ten-year life plan. Instructors who like to construct their own course will find RLFM should save time, since the publishers have vetted external information, update materials and is complete with challenging assignments. If used as a reference, instructors will need to design their own end of unit quizzes, and final exams since the material tested is only covered as a course.
Studies show that young adults are disconnected from their communities and many communities experience “brain drain” as their best and brightest leave town in search of more dynamic career opportunities. Many students, as part of brain development, strive to be independent and that often translates into leaving home. This is to be expected. What is desired is that students feel a need to return and make a positive difference in the community’s social and economic fiber. This is why we include a community project. In the fall, working in teams, students identify the problems faced by the community - not the school. They then use problem-solving skills to find solutions, implement the solutions and evaluate the results. In the spring, students revisit the community project from a critical thinking, cause and effect perspective - why do we have these problems and what can I do to solve it. By becoming a part of the solution, they connect with community leaders and discover how they can contribute to the socio-economic transformation of the community. We believe this is an essential component of being a leader in today’s real life economy and should not be left to a chance happening when they are adults with loans, mortgages, families to support and other obligations. Perhaps if they are taught how to make time and contribute their talent now, they will continue to do this as adults.
Contact Ken Decker, President of Decker & Associates, Inc., the publishers. His email is Ken@DeckeruSA.com. Discuss your licensing needs and you will receive an invoice. You then send Decker a purchase order for the number of student licenses and the names and emails of the instructors. The licenses will be sent to your instructors.
The publishers of RLFM have committed a lifetime to providing objective financial, tax, investment, career and estate planning advice to more than 100,000 families. They have won several awards from universities, communities, FDIC, and nonprofit organizations, have been frequently quoted in the financial press, have been expert witnesses in court, served in government leadership roles and have produce programs that achieve social and economic outcomes. Decker & Associates, Inc is a social impact entity. The pricing for the materials is cheap when compared to quality materials and the time and effort it has taken to compile the knowledge. Profits from publishing is invested in research to discover more efficient and effective ways to preserve democracy and the American Dream. Decker materials are copyrighted because they have invested a lifetime of experience in their development. What this means is don’t commit fraud by trying to steal the materials. We are aware of every license and if used without payment, there will be repercussions. You would not like someone stealing your compensation every month after you have done the work. Nor does D&A. Additionally Ethics and the Law are one of the TEKS in RLFM. We offer you and your district and opportunity to lead by example. Finally, applying financial education, cost should not be an issue. The district receives approximately $385 / student of extra CTE funding for students enrolled in RLFM. The student license is only $35. That leave $350 / student for extra discretionary district expenses.

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