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Leveraging Text-Messaging To Improve Kindergarten Attendance

Smythe-Leistico, Kenneth (2018) Leveraging Text-Messaging To Improve Kindergarten Attendance. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Poor school attendance in the early grades is predictive of poor subsequent educational outcomes. We report on a pilot intervention aiming to reduce chronic absenteeism in kindergarten. We designed and implemented a two-way, text-based parent-school communication system to encourage daily attendance, provide parents with personalized feedback on their child’s attendance, and provide support to mitigate challenges that threatened parents’ ability to get their child to school regularly. We piloted this intervention with two kindergarten classrooms (N = 45 students) within one elementary school. This study aimed to address the following research questions: 1) To what extent can the implementation of two-way text message communication between schools and families focused on the importance of school attendance and barriers that families may face getting their child to school regularly reduce rates of chronic absenteeism and improve rates of daily attendance? 2) To what extent do improvements in attendance translate to improvements in downstream outcomes, such as academic achievement? The program was well received, with nearly all families registering for participation and three-quarters of those receiving outreach responding and engaging with school personnel via text. The pilot school’s kindergarten chronic absenteeism rate was substantially lower in the intervention year relative to prior trends. Further, in the intervention year, the pilot school’s kindergarten chronic absenteeism rate (13%) was substantially lower than for that of a synthetically constructed comparison school (24%). We discuss implications for sustainability and scaling of an effort such as this.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Smythe-Leistico, Kennethkensl@pitt.edukensl0000-0002-1418-5216
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairPage,
Committee MemberBachman,
Committee MemberKelly,
Date: 25 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 April 2018
Approval Date: 25 September 2018
Submission Date: 6 July 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 61
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: attendance, chronic absence, technology, text-messaging, parent engagement
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2018 03:20
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2018 03:20


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