What's New for 2019-2020

Before we get into some amazing improvements to Budget Challenge, it is important to comment on a major transition for our organization. This past year marked the end of five fantastic years of a large sponsorship from a national tax company. Before this sponsorship, we were a relatively new company with a paid subscription model. Because of the sponsorship, hundreds of thousands of students and teachers were able to participate in our simulation for free. In fact, many of our former paid customers naturally adopted the free version. We are forever grateful for that sponsorship because it allowed many teachers and students to use Budget Challenge who might not otherwise have had the opportunity. It does however, create a difficult challenge. How do we convince schools to pay for something they used to get for free? And why, with a wide variety of free materials and programs available, should a school or sponsor pay for Budget Challenge?

We believe that Budget Challenge is unique in its ability to help teachers create financially capable young adults. Its real-time real-world student experience is unlike anything else available. It does require significant resources to operate and maintain, but we believe the impact on students can be truly life-changing. We will continue to work with schools, teachers and sponsors to connect their students to the most realistic financial simulation available. With that, here are the amazing improvements we have for you this school year.

Simulations now start every week

With simulations starting every Thursday, teachers can select the simulation dates that works best for them. Take a look at our simulation schedule for relevant deadlines.  Students can also register for a simulation up to 3 weeks in advance (was 2 weeks) which can allow more time to make a budget and establish a game plan.

Trophies and Updated Scoring

One of the biggest changes this year is to the scoring. We wanted a way to help students prioritize among competing financial goals. With that in mind, there are now six trophies that students can earn during the simulation. Each trophy is worth 1,000 points and represents an essential financial skill. The trophy points are added on top of the previous scoring system to encourage students to practice the skills that adults struggle most with. The six trophies are awarded to students that accomplish the following:

  • Create an emergency fund
  • Pay off a credit card
  • Save for retirement
  • Pay bills on-time
  • Protect credit health
  • Pay down student loan debt

Privacy and Protecting Student Data

The default version of Budget Challenge now requires zero student PII (personally identifiable information). This is a true breakthrough in protecting students and we are excited to be on the cutting edge. In a world where data breaches are common, most address this problem with lengthy data protection agreements and additional required security protocols. With Budget Challenge requiring no PII, we eliminate any potential for harm. This approach is clearly safer than adding extra deadbolts to the doors. See our updated privacy policy for details.

Recognizing Sponsors

We understand that funding may be an issue at some schools. In order to encourage sponsorship, Budget Challenge now can display the logo of sponsors to teachers and students. This is a great way to recognize the generosity of sponsors that make a difference in the financial lives of students at the regional and local levels. Learn more about becoming a sponsor.

Custom Display of Leaderboard

We understand that the leaderboard is a powerful motivator for students to stay engaged. However, highlighting those at the bottom was never the intention. Starting in the Fall of 2019, teachers can choose whether to display the entire leaderboard, just the top five or ten students, or just turn it off.

Updated Quizzes and Integrated Curriculum

Every year we make efforts to improve our quiz questions and curriculum. This year, we set our sights much higher. Our curriculum has been revised and updated to match the quality of our simulation. Valid and reliable quiz questions, along with the options to include performance tasks in grading provide multiple assessment options for teachers. And we have listened to teachers who requested we separate quiz scores from the overall score. Teachers who wish to include them may manually add them if they choose, while those who want to use quiz grades as a separate category can do so.

Now fully optimized for OneNote in the Classroom

We have completed final testing of Budget Challenge in the Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook environment. With a few clicks the teacher can distribute individual copies of the Budget and Cash Flow spreadsheet and complete curriculum to each class. The teacher can also look at the current status of each student's budget without having students emailing them. So, if you are already using OneNote in the classroom, we have our curriculum and tools ready and waiting for you. Email the help desk at support@budgetchallenge.freshdesk.com if you are interested in this no additional cost option.