My bank sends me a text alert when my account balance is low. My wireless company sends me a text alert when I'm about to use up my monthly data. Somebody — I guess the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration? --sends me a text alert when it's going to rain a whole lot.
A few clever researchers said: "Hey! What if we could send text alerts to parents when students miss class or don't turn in their homework?" And what do you know, it worked.
"In a field experiment across 22 middle and high schools, we [sent] automated text-message alerts to parents about their child's missed assignments, grades and class absences. The intervention reduces course failures by 39% and increases class attendance by 17%."
That's from a draft paper they've just released. They say the intervention was especially helpful for students who were struggling academically. The students' GPAs improved by a quarter of a point on a four-point scale. And students were more likely to stay in school.
Bergman told NPR Ed that he has been researching the power of texting parents for about six years. In a previous study in Los Angeles, he tapped out the texts by hand.