Researchers know that texting programs can greatly benefit young children’s literacy. Now new research shows that parents’ participation in such programs can be boosted exponentially with one simple tweak: automatic enrollment, combined with the ability to opt out.
The new research from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy appears in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
In recent years, mounting research evidence has shown texting to be an effective, low-cost, scalable approach for engaging parents in their children’s learning. Some studies suggest text message interventions via tips for parents on how to support their child’s development can put young children’s learning 2-3 months ahead.
Yet getting parents to enroll in these beneficial programs can be challenging. With that in mind, researchers designed a study to test strategies for increasing program participation.
Aware of the problem, several previous administrators tried to alter the admissions system, but none of their efforts yielded concrete results. For many — although not for the handful of Black and Latino students and graduates — the issue faded into the background until this summer, when protests over the murder of George Floyd began to spread nationally. Around the same time, the Fairfax school system released numbers showing that Thomas Jefferson’s Class of 2024 included less than 10 Black students.
Those twin events led to a huge spike in activism, as students and alumni formed action groups, began sharing their own experiences with racism at TJ and lobbied school leaders to take action. Again and again, they rehashed the statistics: In 2019-2020, mirroring years-long trends, the student body of roughly 1,800 was 70 percent Asian, 20 percent White, 2.6 percent Hispanic and less than 2 percent Black.