The Importance of Parent Alerts

Peter Bergman and Eric Chan, researchers at Columbia University, decided to research the effect of texting parents by building a texting system for the largest school district in West Virginia. Texts were sent to parents when students were failing a class or missing school. One such message, went something like this:

“Jaden has 5 missing assignments in science class. For more information log online.”

What happened is that most parents did not log online. However, the very act of texting parents “seemed to make all the difference. They contacted the school more often. And presumably, they talked to their kids.”

The researchers’ experiment with texting yielded incredible results. Using texting as an intervention reduced “…course failures by 39% and increased class attendance by 17%.”

And why did texting have such a profound effect? Because it is such an easy and simple means of communication that nearly everyone uses. Not every family will have a computer and access to the internet so that they can check grades or email teachers. And even if they do, they may simply be too busy to use it. But nearly all parents will have cell phones with the ability to send and receive texts, and a few seconds to read and respond to them. Meeting parents on their level and communicating with them via the channels they use makes all the difference.

Justin Reich, who studies education technology at MIT, says simple interventions like this should be used as much as possible . “If we can adopt a technology that is almost universally accessible to parents, it has positive outcomes on their kid, and it doesn’t cost very much, that seems like a positive thing to me.”

If your school would like to see incredible results like the ones yielded in this experiment, consider our Parent Alert service. Parent Alert can provide information to parents via text about grades, assignments and attendance. Parent Alert can also communicate other important information to your school community, like:

  • Emergency notifications
  • School closings/delays
  • Bus delays
  • Scheduling changes

For more information about Parent Alert sign up for a webinar here.

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