Reducing Student Absenteeism in the Early Grades by Targeting Parental Beliefs

31 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2017  

Carly Robinson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Monica Ga Lim Lee

Stanford University; Harvard University - Center for Public Leadership (CPL)

Eric Dearing

Boston College

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: March 7, 2017

Abstract

Attendance in kindergarten and elementary school robustly predicts student outcomes. Despite this well-documented association, there is little experimental research on how to reduce absenteeism in the early grades. This paper presents results from a randomized field experiment in ten school districts evaluating the impact of a low-cost, parent-focused intervention on student attendance in grades K-5. The intervention targeted commonly held parental misbeliefs undervaluing the importance of regular K-5 attendance as well as the number of school days their child had missed. The intervention decreased chronic absenteeism by 15%. This study presents the first experimental evidence on how to improve student attendance in grades K-5 at scale, and has implications for increasing parental involvement in education.

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Carly and Lee, Monica Ga Lim and Dearing, Eric and Rogers, Todd, Reducing Student Absenteeism in the Early Grades by Targeting Parental Beliefs (March 7, 2017). HKS Working Paper No. RWP17-011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2929600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2929600

Carly Robinson

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Monica Ga Lim Lee

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Harvard University - Center for Public Leadership (CPL) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Eric Dearing

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Todd Rogers (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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