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Sending Parents Useful Information About Attendance, Course Progress Has Big Effects, Social Scientists Find

When Todd Rogers, director of the Student Social Support R&D Lab at Harvard University, started doing research in schools, he found focusing on parents could offer big returns.

“Parents get so little information and so little of what they get is useful,” Rogers said.

A behavioral scientist at the Harvard Kennedy School, Rogers has completed a number of experiments measuring the impressive effects of simply mailing parents information about how important school attendance is.

Peter Bergman, an assistant professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University (The Hechinger Report is an independently-funded unit of Teachers College), has done similar experiments texting parents information about their children’s missed assignments, class attendance and grades. He, too, has seen significant results that are easy to replicate.