SMS-Based School-Parents Communication Technology

Authors test whether a program of sending student data to parents using high frequency text messaging improves education outcomes


Schools around the world routinely collect high frequency data on student outcomes like absenteeism, grades, and student conduct, all strong predictors of grade repetition and school dropout. Yet parents rarely have access to these data in real time.

The authors test whether a program of sending data to parents using high frequency text messaging improves education outcomes in a sample of 1,500 students in eight elementary schools in a low-income region of Chile.

After 4 months, treated students had significantly higher math grades, improved attendance, a lower prevalence of bad behaviors, and were less likely to fail the grade at the end of the year. The authors found some evidence of positive spillovers from having more students (randomly) treated in the same classroom.

Treatment narrowed parent-school information gaps and treated parents reported a higher willingness to pay for continuing the messaging program at follow up. Results suggest that poor communication between parents and schools may be an important barrier to improving educational attainment.

Using low-cost technology to deliver existing data on student grades, attendance and behavior at higher frequency could significantly raise human capital attainment down the line.

This was funded under the J-PAL Post-Primary Education Initiative


Berlinski, Samuel, Matias Busso,Taryn Dinkelman and Claudia Martinez A. Reducing parent-school information gaps and improving education outcomes: Evidence from high frequency text messaging in Chile. Working Paper, December 2016, 51p.

SMS-Based School-Parents Communication Technology

Published 1 December 2016