Rogers, Todd, and Avi Feller. "Reducing Student Absences at Scale by Targeting Parents’ Misbeliefs." Nature Human Behaviour 2 (Spring 2018): 335–342.
Student attendance is critical to educational success, and is increasingly the focus of educators, researchers and policymakers. We report the results of a randomized experiment examining interventions targeting student absenteeism. Parents of 28,080 high-risk students in grades kindergarten to 12th grade received one of three personalized information treatments repeatedly throughout the school year or received no additional information (control). The most effective versions reduced chronic absenteeism by 10% or more, partly by correcting parents’ biased beliefs about their children’s total accumulated absences. The intervention reduced student absences comparably across grade levels, and reduced absences among untreated cohabiting students in treated households. This intervention is easy to scale and is more than one order of magnitude more cost effective than current absence-reduction best practices. Educational interventions that inform and empower parents, such as the one reported here, can complement more intensive student-focused absenteeism interventions.