DP15949 Reducing Parent-School Information Gaps and Improving Education Outcomes: Evidence from High-Frequency Text Messages

Author(s): Samuel Berlinski, Matias Busso, Taryn Dinkelman, Claudia Martinez A.
Publication Date: March 2021
Keyword(s): Chile, Education, information experiment, parent-school communication
JEL(s): D8, I25, N36
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15949

Grade retention and early dropout are two of the biggest challenges facing education systems in middle-income countries today, representing waste in school resources. We investigate whether reducing parent-school information gaps can improve outcomes that are early-warning signals for grade retention and dropout. We conducted an experiment in low-income schools in Chile to test the effects and behavioral changes triggered by a program that sends attendance, grade, and classroom behavior information to parents via weekly and monthly text messages. Our 18-month intervention raised average math GPA by 0.09 of a standard deviation and increased the share of students satisfying attendance requirements for grade promotion by 4.5 percentage points. Treatment effects were larger for students at higher risk of later grade retention and dropout. We find some evidence of positive classroom spillovers. Leveraging existing school inputs to implement a light-touch, cost-effective information intervention can improve education outcomes in lower-income settings.