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Reducing Student Absenteeism in the Early Grades by Targeting Parental Beliefs


  • Robinson, Carly D.

    (Harvard University)

  • Lee, Monica G.

    (Stanford University)

  • Dearing, Eric

    (Boston College)

  • Rogers, Todd

    (Harvard University)


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.

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  • Robinson, Carly D. & Lee, Monica G. & Dearing, Eric & Rogers, Todd, 2017. "Reducing Student Absenteeism in the Early Grades by Targeting Parental Beliefs," Working Paper Series rwp17-011, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp17-011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kraft, Matthew A. & Rogers, Todd, 2015. "The underutilized potential of teacher-to-parent communication: Evidence from a field experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 49-63.
    2. Susan Athey & Guido Imbens, 2016. "The Econometrics of Randomized Experiments," Papers 1607.00698,
    3. Maxwell, Nan L & Lopus, Jane S, 1994. "The Lake Wobegon Effect in Student Self-Reported Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 201-205, May.
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