Home - Research and Science
AllHere is steadfast in our commitment to incorporating well-accepted research into our innovative solutions. An extensive body of research about effective ways to improve participation and attendance and how people communicate drives every aspect of our design and development of our solutions. The following information and publications summarize the frameworks that propel outcomes for our students, families and schools. They also detail how we carefully translate critical research into our solutions.
Schools and districts are increasingly looking to keep up with how families and students communicate in today’s mobile-centric world as it can have a major impact on their continued ability to offer the students the education they want and need. It is important to acknowledge the preferred methods of communication to ensure families and students receive the information provided.
The graphs below show how adults use different communication channels, which mirrors the rise in mobile adoption:
If you’re one of the 91% of adults in the U.S. who owns a cell phone, chances are that you use SMS (texts) daily. Since the 1980s, SMS has become one of the most prevalent forms of communication. More than 560 billion SMS are sent monthly all over the world. SMS messages are an easy and effective way to communicate and the data does not lie:
The Institute of Educational Sciences “Making an Impact” report speaks to the science with research data showcasing the power of nudging in increasing student attendance and participation. More recently, studies by Dr. Peter Bergman of Columbia University highlight the results of nudging with SMS texting and the increase in student outcomes at scale. You can read the study listed in the right column.
Why does nudging work so well? To understand this one must understand that the information being communicated around a student’s education is complex while at the same time, communications from the many different school contacts are infrequent. With the promise of solutions to scale and simplified communications, schools can make these valuable nudge communications more relevant, more frequent and more consistent.
In our first research study in LAUSD, 11% of parents did not understand an A-F grading scale
31% of parents did not know how many report cards they should get each year
57% of parents in lower-performing schools are not satisfied with the communication they receive from their child’s school
Scale, relevancy, personalization and timeliness of communications via SMS texting is made possible with the use of various artificial intelligence approaches including mimicking “cognitive” functions and using machine learning algorithms. Combining these technologies results in what is called an AI Chatbot. Rather than humans sending personalized nudges and messages to families and students, the AI Chatbot is able to offload that communication as well as respond to questions posed to the bot.
An AI Chatbot can respond 24/7 to a nearly limitless number of students and families at once. Chatbots have the potential to provide unprecedented support in real-time – which can streamline processes like attendance, student engagement and interventions. This enables advisors and support staff to focus on students who need more hands-on and personalized support.
The research shows that weekly, automated alerts to families about missed assignments, grades and absences positively impacted student attendance and outcomes. Read the entire Dr. Peter Bergman research paper – click here.
A new Institute of Educational Sciences report titled “Can Texting Parents Improve Attendance in Elementary School? A Test of an Adaptive Messaging Strategy” has just been published and highlights further evidence that SMS texting does improve student participation and outcomes. The report is in the right column for download.
The Proof – Personal contact with parents and families improves outcomes
Reported by Aft.org in 2019/20; schools with exemplar attendance recognize families as a resource to improving attendance and work to strengthen connections with them. Although this is essential, engaging with hundreds or thousands of families each school year can be time-consuming and expensive, and not all schools and districts have the resources to support this type of activity. The good news? There is new information that points to a new promise of using technology to engage students and families at scale.
Below are articles capturing details from Peter Bergman, Associate Professor of Economics and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Co-Chair of the Education Technology Initiative at J-PAL and his studies on engaging parents through technology to improve academic outcomes.
The Background – Researchers are also testing the effect of giving parents more information about their children’s efforts in school. A school in Los Angeles, in collaboration with Peter Bergman of Columbia University, sent personalized text messages to parents of middle and high school students.
The Research – CNN reports: Parental Involvement Overrated? Randomized experiments, modeled after medical clinical trials, are the “gold standard” for understanding whether a given behavior causes a change in a specific outcome. Results from these experiments suggest that involving parents is a powerful, cost-effective, and scalable way to increase student achievement in any number of settings.
The Results – BOLD expert reports: Engaging Parents Through Technology Improves Academic Outcomes “These findings reinforce promising evidence about how timely, actionable information can engage parents and improve student performance at a low cost.”
0.23 points in GPA increase
38% reduction in course failures
17% increase in class attendance
Read the entire Peter Bergman research paper – click here
Can Texting Parents Improve Attendance in Elementary School? A Test of an Adaptive Messaging Strategy to Improve Student Participation at Scale. Full research documentation included.Read Research Paper
Parent-Child Information Frictions and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Field Experiment. Peter Bergman's paper studies information frictions between parents and their children, and how these affect human capital investments.Read Research Paper
Leveraging Parents through Low-Cost Technology: The Impact of High-Frequency Information on Student Achievement. Peter Bergman is an assitant professor at Columbia University and Eric W. Chan is an assistant professor at Babson College.Read Research Paper