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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nudges Help Poorer Children

There are enormous inequalities in education in the United States. A child born into a poor family has only a 9 percent chance of getting a college degree, but the odds are 54 percent for a child in a high-income family. These gaps open early, with poor children kindergarten less prepared than their classmates.

How can we close the gaps thes? Contentious, ambitious Reforms of the education system crowd the headlines: the Common Core, the elimination of teacher tenure, charter schools. The debate is heated and sometimes impolite (a recent book about education is called "The Teacher Wars").

Yet as thes Debates rage, Researchers have been quietly finding small, effective ways to improve education. They have identified behavioral "nudges" that prod Students and their families to take small steps that can make big differences in learning. These measures are cheap, so that schools could use them Nonprofits Immediately.

Let's start with college. At every step of the way, low-income Students are more likely to stumble on the path to higher education. Even the summer after high school is a perilous time, with 20 percent of those who plan to attend college not actually enrolling - a phenomenon known as "summer melt." Bureaucratic barriers, like the labyrinthine process of applying for financial aid, explains some of the drop-off.

While they were graduate students at Harvard, two young Professors Students designed and tested a program to help them stick to the college plans. Benjamin L. Castleman, now at the University of Virginia, and Lindsay C. Page, at the University of Pittsburgh, set up a system of automatic, personalized text messages that Reminded high student, about the their college deadlines. The texts included links to required forms and live Counselors.

The result? Students who received the texts were more likely to enroll in college: 70 percent, compared with 63 percent of those who did not get access them. Seven percentage points is a big increas in this field, similar to the that cost Gains Produced by Scholarships Thousands of dollars. Yet this program cost only $ 7 per student.

The same Researchers also tested a texting program to keep students from dropping out of college. The problem is importante because the graduation rate of low-income college students is dismally low; two-thirds leave without a degree. Community college students received their texts reminding them to complete the re-enrollment forms, Particularly aid applications. Among freshmen who received the texts, is 68 percent went on to complete their sophomore year, compared with 54 percent of those who got no nudges. This, too, is a big impact - especially for a program that cost only $ 5 per student.

We know because they were Evaluated These programs worked, like all the innovations cited in this column, using a randomized, controlled trial. Randomized trials, once rare in education research, are Increasingly common. The What Works Clearinghouse, which reviews and rates the quality of education research, lists 242 randomized trials.

Continue reading the main storycontinu reading the main storycontinu reading the main story
Students were randomly assigned to receive or not receive texts I thee. Because the two groups were randomly defined, they were basically indistinguishable at the start of the study. They diverged as the texts altered the behavior of those who got them compared with those who did not.

Text messaging will not help everyone get through college, and cheap Interventions will not solve every problem. But they solve some problems for some students The, freeing up time and financial Resources for those who need other kinds of help.

Some Students need personal counseling to help them balance the Demands of school, family and work. Unfortunately, Counselors are stretched thin, often carrying caseloads of Thousands of students.

Continue reading the main story

edintheappl 23 hours ago
Social media rules! Commonly I love them college students are sources of news, reporter Teitt Virtually all are, none responder newspapers. Teachers ...
siwankov 23 hours ago
I am happy. I grew up poor. In elementary and middle school, my peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch consısted of a, and a chocolate milk ...
ttrumbo 23 hours ago
The biggest problem with the education of children in poverty is poverty. That is where they live and breathe and try to survive, many times ...
Two Researchers at Stanford University, Eric P. Bettinger and Rachel Baker Analyzed an innovative program in which a professional academic counseling at-risk students The coach calls to talk about time management and study skills. The coach might help a student plan how much time to spend on each class in the days approaching finals, for example. The results are impressive, with coached Students more likely to stay in college and graduate. This program is more expensive than texting - $ 500 per student, per semester - but the effects persist for years after the coaching has ended.

Can nudges help younger children? Susanna Loeb and Benjamin N. York, both also at Stanford, developed a literacy program for preschool children in San Francisco. They sent texts describing simple Activities that parents develop literacy skills, such as pointing out the words that rhyme or start with the same sound. The parents spent more time with them receiving the texts are on thes Aciviies and their children's children were more likely to know the alphabet and the sounds of letters. It cost just a few dollars per family.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and University of Toronto are also working on Methods to develop literacy. Ariel Kalil, Susan E. Mayer families and Philip Oreopoulos you with tips about how to read texts with their preschoolers. The result was that the substantially parents spent more time reading with their children.

Researchers are also testing the effect of giving parents more information about their children's Efforts are in school. A school in Los Angeles, in collaboration with Peter Bergman of Columbia University, personalized text messages sent to parents of middle and high school students. The texts told their parents when the children did not hand in homework assignments, listing page numbers and specific problems for students to complete. The parents and students The Responded: Completed homework grades and test scores went up 25 percent and rose. Other forms of communication between the school and parents who improved, too, with parents are twice as likely to reach out to their children's teachers.

These light nudges can not solve every problem by a long shot. But at a low cost, they can help many students.

Why are not schools, districts and states rushing to set up the measures thes? Maybe because the programs have no natural constituency. They are not Labor- or capital-intensive, so they do not create lots of jobs that are lucrative contracts. They do not create a big, expensive initiative that a politician can point to in a stump speech. They just do their job, effectively and Cheaply.

Susan is a professor of economics Dynars that, education and public policy at the University of Michigan. She has advised the Obama administration on the findings of each student-aid policy research. Follow on Twitter atdynars of each.

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