Invest Ed® « STARS « FAQs

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Q: Who sponsors this program?
A: Invest Ed® is program of the Oklahoma Department of Securities.
Q: How long has the Invest Ed® STARS program been in existence?
A: since July 2005
Q: What is the purpose of the program?
A: Investment and Financial Education—The program offers teachers a free, unbiased tool (online portfolio) with the capability of improving students’ financial futures. Invest Ed® STARS strives to educate and raise awareness about financial independence and securities fraud awareness and prevention.
Q: Why is investment education an important topic for high school students?
A: Time! Traditional pensions are history. Will Social Security be available when today’s students are ready to retire? Who knows? If it is available, will it be sufficient? Will inflation exist? Investment fraud? Most likely students are going to be responsible for their financial futures. What are our students to do? Who is going to teach them? Most people desire financial independence. Many people lack the knowledge or skills or discipline to make it happen. Education is essential. Time is a critical factor.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Zero! There is absolutely NO cost to the district, school, teacher, or students—free! Teacher training is also free.
Q: How does this program differ from other online stock programs?
A: Student winners are selected solely on the quality of their required reports. Winners are not selected based on the value of their portfolios. Invest Ed® feels rewarding students based on portfolio values promotes trading. Invest Ed® does not promote day trading; it discourages day trading. This program’s focus is on investing for the long term.
Q: What makes this program credible to educators in Oklahoma?
A: It aligns with PASS Standards (documentation on Website) and will align with Common Core Standards. The State Department of Education recognizes Invest Ed® STARS as a resource for the Passport to Financial Literacy Act of 2007.
Q: I don’t know anything about the stock market. How can I be expected to implement this program?
A: TEACHERS ARE FACILITATORS. Teachers are not expected to be subject-matter experts. Invest Ed® STARS provides guidelines and training to enable teachers to facilitate effectively. And, the STARS support staff is readily accessible and eager to help.
Q: Can I implement STARS even if I haven’t been trained?
A: Secondary teachers of grades 9-12 are required to attend a 6-hour training session to learn how to implement the program. Teachers have two training options—one-day workshop or summer Teacher Institute. Once trained, teachers may implement again and again. Optional summer Refresher Workshops are provided for participating teachers. All teacher training events are free.
Q: When and where are one-day workshops?
A: By contract, we conduct 8 one-day workshops annually. We travel to each of our regions: NE, NW, SE, SW, Central, and South Central. In the spring we travel to OKC and Tulsa. Dates and locations are posted on our site at the Workshops page.
Q: Do I have to live in the specific region to attend a One-Day Workshop?
A: No, teachers may attend any workshop date/location. Trained teachers may attend a one-day workshop as often as they wish to re-fresh. However, Invest Ed® STARS cannot pay workshop stipends to repeat teachers; all materials and lunch are provided.
Q: Can I implement STARS with my 7th and 8th graders?
A: By contract with the Oklahoma Securities Commission, the STARS program is for students in grades 9-12. If you teach a ‘combined’ course, let the 7-8 graders participate unofficially. They are not eligible to be a report winner. Do not report them as participating students on the form you submit (our official count); and do not submit their reports.
Q: I teach in a Technology Center, so I have both high school and adult students. May my adult students participate?
A: Officially no which means they are not eligible to be a report winner. Absolutely let them participate unofficially. Do not report them as participating students on the form you submit (our official count), and do not submit their reports.
Q: Are all students in my class (or classes) required to participate?
A: Teachers may require students to participate, or they may make participation optional. Teachers may implement the program in their courses or in organizations the sponsor, or both.
Q: How do teachers receive an end-of-semester stipend?
A: Participating teachers who have a minimum of three students complete the program in its entirety AND complete the pre-, post-surveys (semester, trimester, and OKC year-round only) receive an end-of-semester stipend. Participating teachers receive a form via email to submit with due date.
Q: I teach (fill in the blank) course/s or (fill in the blank) academic level. May my students participate?
A: We have students at all academic levels and in a diverse range of courses. Our goal is to offer this life-changing opportunity to as many students as possible. ALL students can benefit from this information, and ALL students deserve to be made aware of this information.
Q: Do students have to have a social security number to win the scholarship?
A: HB 1804: “Effective 11/1/2007 any person fourteen (14) years of age or older who receives public benefits under the provisions of Title 56 O.S. Supp Section 71 must execute an affidavit under penalty of law stating that they are a U.S. citizen or qualified alien.” Student report winners must sign a waiver requiring US citizens to provide SSNs; qualified aliens are required to provide I-94 and Alien numbers.
Q: Does Invest Ed® provide investment advice or counseling.
A: NO. The STARS program is a learning process intended for classroom use and then only to make students and teachers aware of the benefits and risks of savings and investing. We do not recommend any particular investment strategy or plan or value any type of product or securities professional over another. No part of the STARS program is investment advice.


Q: Are pre- and post-surveys required?
A: Pre- and post-surveys are optional. Teachers receive an email with teacher id#’s and instructions. A new survey link is provided each semester. The time involved is minimal. Student pre- and post-surveys are identical.
Q: How do you introduce this program to the class?
A: There are several good ways to introduce this program. One way is to show a securities fraud documentary video provided by Invest Ed® to participating teachers. Some teachers have students list some products they use on a regular basis and research those companies. You can have students list all the companies they encounter during a day and research those companies. Another option is to use the financial calculator (teachers learn this at training) to compute time value of money—focus on goals. Teaching opportunity cost (problems provided) is a great way to start. Teachers may use tutorials from various sites provided. Invest Ed® provides numerous resources to teachers with ideas and lesson plan options to help implement the program into any curriculum.
Q: How much class time should be spent on the program?
A: The amount of class time utilized by this program is flexible. It varies from teacher to teacher. Each teacher is provided a timeframe including due dates. At the beginning teachers may spend a few class periods explaining the program, viewing a fraud video, showing students how to research, discussing risk and completing a risk assessment, and setting goals. Once the students create a portfolio, the program pretty much runs itself; students may track portfolios in class or out of class, or both. Teachers are facilitators.
Q: Where is the best place to research – to get started?
A: Resources provided by Invest Ed® include lists of Websites as well as books and other resources. At the teacher training, teachers learn research tips.
Q: Where can I get a copy of (any) form?
A: Semester, Trimester, Quarter, and OKC year-round forms are available online at | STARS link | Handouts and Resources page. Also, they are on a CD provided for teachers at the workshop or teacher institute. If you need a customized schedule, contact the STARS staff.
Q: Can you lose money and still compete for the report monetary awards?
A: Yes. The report competition is not decided by the portfolio’s gain or loss but by the amount of knowledge gained through the process, as expressed in the written report.
Q: Do we have to buy or sell throughout the program?
A: No. Students may choose to stick with their initial choices and see how the investments perform, which is acceptable and encouraged. Students are allowed to buy or sell during the process.
Q: $500,000 is unrealistic; why do students have so much money to invest?
A: After the first semester of the STARS program, teachers were polled regarding the $500,000. Before the semester started, teachers thought the amount was too high. At the end of the semester, teachers requested the amount remain unchanged because… If the amount were smaller, students would experience ups and downs, but they would be minor/mild repercussions. With $500,000 invested, students experience a real jolt—an impact. The amount remains unchanged based on teacher feedback. It is an over-exaggeration to make a point.
Q: Do students have to spend all of the $500,000?
A: It is recommended they spend at least 80% initially. This allows them extra $$ to purchase additional stock as the program progresses. They are expected to invest most of their virtual money throughout the process.
Q: May students buy foreign stocks?
A: Yes – No contract rules against this practice exist.
Q: May students buy mutual funds?
A: Yes – No contract rules against this practice exist.
Q: May students buy ETFs?
A: Yes – No contract rules against purchasing exchange traded funds.
Q: Can we buy/sell before Printout 1?
A: The first printout is immediately after creating the portfolio; dates are on the timeframe handout. Additional purchases or sells are made after the tracking process begins. However, if a mistake was made in the initial purchases, it can be edited prior to printing.
Q: Can students access their portfolios outside of school?
A: Yes. Students create a Google Finance portfolio, so they may access their portfolios from any computer with Internet access. A video by our subject-matter expert walks you through the portfolio setup. Video is located on every STARS page in the STARS Resources box.
Q: Tracking Log: The directions say “Initial the date you check your Portfolio. If the Value and Gain columns are UP, initial in the plus column. If the columns are DOWN, initial in the minus column.” Please explain.
A: Teachers have two choices: (1) use the total portfolio’s gain or loss, or (2) use one tracking log per stock. Students may initial in the plus or minus column on that date or write the $ or % up or down. The purpose of this log is to verify students are checking their portfolios. It is turned in to the teacher only. Trust us; students are going to check their portfolios often.
Q: What printouts do I send you?
A: Teachers, do not send any forms to program staff during the program. Only send the two required printouts per student report submitted at program’s end. See Report Requirements handout under General Information at | STARS link | Handouts and Resources page (top of page). Dates are on the Project Timeframe.
Q: How many reports do I send?
A: Teachers send the top two reports per class.
Q: Are sample reports available?
A: Yes, all previous winning reports are available for viewing at | STARS link | Awards page (bottom of page).
Q: Does report material have to be in a specific order?
A: Yes as far as cover page, body, and works cited components are concerned. The report order is outlined in the Report Requirements handout available at | STARS link | Handouts and Resources page.
Q: What if I need help?
A: Contact the STARS staff with any questions. Jo Ann Dysart, Project Director ~ 405.280.7728 ~

Fiancial Calculator

Q: Do options exist for the financial calculator?
A: Yes. An app is available from TI for your phone. The TI 84 graphing calculator has a finance application similar to the financial calculator, per math teacher feedback. Teachers teaching Excel may choose to use a function. Of course, you can search online and find numerous financial calculators for a wide variety of purposes. Remember, the financial calculator is optional; it is not a requirement.
Q: Where can I find practice problems for the financial calculator?
A: Invest Ed® provides several practice problems as well as a working list of online resources with additional instructional practices and lesson plans at workshops and teacher institutes.
Q: Where can I get a financial calculator and emulator?
A: Effective 2010 Texas Instruments no longer provides free financial calculators and emulators to high school teachers. At this time, Texas Instruments is not selling emulators. The financial calculator may be purchased at most retail or discount stores for approximately $55, or less. The BA II Plus Professional costs more than the BA II Plus. The BA II Plus does everything this project needs and more.
Q: Is there a TI BA II Plus calculator troubleshooting source?
A: 1-800-TI CARES
- Also, at this link is a Support tab with contact info. Under the Downloads tab is a Guidebook. Additionally, this site has a BAII Plus App, but it is not free.


Q: Where can I access the current project timeframe forms?
A: All program forms are available at | STARS link | Handouts and Resources page. If you do not see what you need of if you need a customized schedule, contact the staff.
Q: How do I get a copy of the fraud video?
A: Teachers attending a free teacher training event receive a free fraud video. Also, the documentaries are available on at the Documentaries tab.
Q: How do I get copies of resource handouts for the program?
A: Teachers attending a workshop or summer institute receive all resource handouts in hard copy and digital format. Forms are also available on our site.

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