Using Behavioral Insights to Improve School Administrative Communications: The Case of Truancy Notifications

19 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2019 Last revised: 10 Mar 2021

See all articles by Jessica Lasky-Fink

Jessica Lasky-Fink

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Carly Robinson

Brown University; Harvard University

Hedy Chang

Attendance Works

Todd Rogers

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: August 20, 2019

Abstract

Many states mandate districts or schools notify parents when students have missed multiple unexcused days of school. We report a randomized experiment (N = 131,312) evaluating the impact of sending parents truancy notifications modified to target behavioral barriers that can hinder effective parental engagement. Modified truancy notifications that used simplified language, emphasized parental efficacy, and highlighted the negative incremental effects of missing school reduced absences by 0.07 days compared to the standard, legalistic, and punitively-worded notification — an estimated 40% improvement. This work illustrates how behavioral insights and randomized experiments can be used to improve administrative communications in education.

Suggested Citation

Lasky-Fink, Jessica and Robinson, Carly and Robinson, Carly and Chang, Hedy and Rogers, Todd, Using Behavioral Insights to Improve School Administrative Communications: The Case of Truancy Notifications (August 20, 2019). HKS Working Paper No. RWP19-026, August 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3440376 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3440376

Jessica Lasky-Fink

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

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

Carly Robinson

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Harvard University ( email )

13 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Hedy Chang

Attendance Works ( email )

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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